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Why picking the right gun is like trying on shoes

Happy New Year! It's time to dust off the old Rose Blog and start writing again. A lot has changed since I last checked in; I earned a couple of very exciting new instructor certifications (Rangemaster, USCCA). I moved to a new town and am having a great time exploring the neighborhood. And I took a part-time job working behind the counter at a gun store with an attached indoor range.

That last part is what inspired me to write this post.

Ladies: imagine what would happen if you sent your husband into the department store to find you the best pair of heels to go with that little black dress you bought for Janet's annual birthday bash three weeks from now. You know that buying shoes is intensely personal, but your husband assures you that he and maybe the staff at the shoe store will know just what you need for the occasion. You don't even need to try your new shoes on before the event! Just take what he picks out for you, plan to wear them all night, and surely everything will work out.

If this sounds insane to you, perhaps you can begin to understand why it's a terrible idea to let someone else choose your everyday carry (EDC) gun. You need to have it in your hands, work all its parts, and fire it from a variety of positions to know whether a gun is right for you. And yet women frequently come to me with a .38 Special snub-nosed revolver and tell me that they're ready for their first lesson ever.

"Why did you buy this gun?" I ask.

Blank stare. "My husband picked it out."

Or, "The man at the gun store said I need a revolver since women can't rack a slide, whatever that means."

This is the equivalent of sending your man to the shoe department and giving him carte blanche to pick out your next set of heels--and then acting surprised when he shows up with the impossibly tall stilettos with rhinestones all over them that are a half size too small.

Simply put, buying a gun is not a group decision.

It's frustrating having to explain to a new student that the expensive little hand cannon her husband bought her might not be the best choice for a beginner because of the heavy trigger pull and intense recoil, and that she's unlikely to consistently carry it because it will be uncomfortable or even painful to shoot until she develops her shooting fundamentals. What feels good in the hand at the counter may not shoot so well or feel so good on the firing line. If only these students had been given better advice at the gun store! If only they understood how intensely personal it is to buy a gun.

Your best bet is to rent several different models and calibers at a firing range and spend an afternoon figuring out what you like, and what you don't like. And if you'd rather not navigate such waters alone, there's always your friendly firearms instructor ready to lend a hand.

Stay safe out there and we'll see you on the range!