Sunday, July 6, 2014

Confidence Crushers

​​Ladies, I'm going to ask a favor of you. After you read this, if it rings true for you, would you please pass it on to your significant other, brothers, and other male shooting friends? Because I think it needs to be said.

I run into this almost every shooting match. Most folks are very welcoming, and this makes shooting with them a really great time, which is why I keep coming back. In fact, there is a pack of regulars at my own club that I LOVE shooting with, and I almost never run into this issue with them. But at other clubs there often seems to be a tiny subset of guys who insist on not just shooting their own match, but mine as well. (At least in my experience it's always guys - sorry, it just is).

Look, I know that I'm a low-intermediate shooter. I know that my technique isn't perfect. I know that there is a lot for me to learn. But if I didn't ASK for you to "teach" me, then please don't. Like a lot of women who have started in the shooting sports in the past few years, my confidence can still be a bit on the fragile side. It's not that I don't want to get better, but if your delivery of unsolicited advice is angled in the wrong way, it can be a confidence crusher. I've been at this long enough, that I'm learning to just smile, nod, ignore these fellows, and move on. But some women - especially beginner women - may not be able to do that. This is a really good way to Crush and LOSE a Novice/D level shooter - and even some Marksman /C level shooters like me.

Now, being unsafe or doing something against the rules is an ENTIRELY different kettle of fish, and does need to be dealt with immediately. But if what you want to say has more to do with how "you" would game that stage, then please choose your words carefully, or better yet, keep your opinion to yourself unless that shooter asks for your advice.

Guys, it's not that your advice isn't well-meant. I'm sure it is. And I know that you are a much better shooter than I am. But as I mentioned above, the devil can be in the delivery. There is some truth to the Mars/Venus thing. What you "say", is not always what we women "hear". You may think that you are simply pointing out that I could have saved two-tenths of a second if I had done thus-and-such. But what I heard is that my performance wasn't good enough. I heard "What are you doing? Why did you do THAT?" I was happy with what I had done - I hit all the targets, didn't drop my magazines, and didn't fall down. I was having FUN -- and then you pulled the rug out from underneath me. You blew all of my confidence right out of the water. You took what had been a personal victory in even showing up and participating -- and turned it into a defeat. And that's really a shame. Because it happens to women ALL. THE. TIME.

When you do that, you are taking MY goals for MY match (however modest they may seem to you), and substituting YOUR goals for MY match. Do you see that? Does that make sense?

Again, if you are asked for advice, then that's different. But also bear in mind that even if they ask you, a D or C level shooter may not have the skills to do what you are telling them to do. For example, making up a shot in that two-tenths of a second and making sure that it's an A hit, and not a D hit, is not something that I can probably accomplish at this point. Thus, offering that advice may not be helpful and may only discourage me. With my middle-aged eyes, I'm not even sure that I could "see" that dropped shot in two-tenths of a second, let alone make it up. LOL! I'm not being defeatist - just realistic :-) And the thing is - I'm okay with that, so why can't you be too?

All of this surely doesn't apply to every female shooter either. If she is clearly a go-getter, and hungry for a plaque and a title, then by all means offer her as much advice as she can handle. But still let HER decide how much that is, okay?

Please by all means be generous with praise. Be encouraging. Be welcoming. Tell her you hope that she will be back next month -- but please be sparing with unsolicited criticism, however "constructive" you think it may be. If you absolutely can't help yourself, please at least be careful of your delivery - be sure to begin with praise and end with praise, and slide your advice somewhere inside that sandwich of positives. Keeping that new shooter coming back may depend on YOU!

Thanks so much for all of your support! See you on the range!


  1. I've been shooting a long time and this is one of the biggest complaints I have. I, too, have a group that I love to shoot with, who I've been shooting with for almost a decade. Yet, it never fails, there's always that one guy (who is usually new-ish to our matches) who just can't help himself. I chose to shoot my last match with my Glock 42. Yes, I know it's a pocket pistol. Yes, I know it's only a .380. Yes, I know it's got a very small maximum effective range. Thanks for pointing all of that out. But let me point something out to you, asshole: I just cleared the Texas Star at 10 yards with that "mouse gun" and I completed the ENTIRE match with a stock pocket pistol, not your highly customized race gun. You see, I'm shooting with the gun I carry, and I doubt you're going to be OC'ing your race gun. must have touched a nerve :)

    Sharing on the GunDivas' FB page - this is too good not to share.

    1. I'm glad I touched a nerve, because I loved hearing your story - go you!!!

    2. You should see their heads fall off when I show up to shoot the entire match weak-handed :) I do it at least once a year, just for practice. Why not? My ego's not involved in the scores, but I really do need the practice weak-handed (excuse me, support handed).