This past Sunday afternoon, I ran to my local indoor gun range to poke holes in paper and knock over some steel. As usual, I brought my carry pistol, and a suppressor for it.
I was shooting alone on one side of the range for a while, and a small group came in and set up about four lanes down from me. Because of my amplified, electronic ear-muffs, eavesdropping was unavoidable, and I quickly ascertained that they were a family, consisting of Mom, Dad, and a college-age daughter. They seemed like nice folks, and were all having a good time. The purpose of their outing was apparently to teach the daughter how to shoot a handgun, which I thought was really cool- Mom and Dad teaching their daughter to protect herself with a firearm.
From my peripheral vision, I saw a large silhouette target move out to about 7 feet on their lane, and I could hear the father giving instructions on safety, sight alignment, grip, etc. Everything he was telling her was legitimate and they both sounded excited.
Then, BOOOMMM! I heard (and felt) what sounded like a 45ACP. I glanced down to the silhouette and there was a single hole in the 10-ring. I could hear Mom and Dad giggling because their daughter had done so well on her first shot. BOOOMMM! Another hole in the 10 ring, nearly touching the first one. “Not too shabby,” I thought, for a first-time shooter! Then I heard something that made me kind of sad...
“I don’t want to shoot anymore. It's scary. It’s too powerful,” the daughter said.
The Dad had set the daughter up with a subcompact 1911 as her first gun to shoot and it was too much for her to handle. In all likelihood, he was operating under the archaic mentality of trying to put a smaller gun into a woman’s hand, rather than starting her off with a full size gun, or a smaller caliber, that may give less recoil and therefore ease the new shooter into things. I don’t blame him. It’s kind of how I was taught, and it’s probably how he was taught. Unfortunately, the indoor report, concussion and recoil of that larger caliber, smaller framed pistol was over-powering for the daughter, and she was completely turned off to shooting.
I tried to mind my own business and keep shooting for a while, but whenever I would step back from my lane, I could see that Dad was disappointed, though still shooting some, and Mom and daughter were sitting down, a little glum, and basically just watching him.
I decided to conduct a social experiment. I screwed on my suppressor and loaded up a few mags with subsonic ammo. We were the only people on that side of the range and I had been banging away with my 9mm, unsuppressed, so I figured this may attract some attention. I thumped off about 10 rounds (THUMP, THUMP, THUMP…) and paused.
I could hear whispers from down the way, “… silencer?...”
“Yep!” I pounced on the opportunity, “You want to check it out?” I said to the Dad.
"Sure!” he replied and came down to my lane.
The Dad finished off the magazine and had that “I-can’t-believe-how-awesome-that-was!” ear-to-ear smile on his face that literally everyone gets the first time they shoot a weapon suppressed.
I produced another full magazine, and with the Dad’s permission, offered it up to the Mom and daughter. I could tell the daughter was interested but was hesitant, and probably didn’t full trust Dad, as he tried to convince her to give it a go. Mom had no reservations, though, and came skipping over to take a few shots, which made for the second “I-can’t-believe-how-awesome-that-was!” ear-to-ear smile!
With a slight push, Mom convinced the daughter to come over. I could see she was initially intimidated by the size of the pistol and the suppressor on the end of it, so I let her Dad talk her through the first shots-
THUMP, THUMP, THUMP, THUMP!
And of course, a third, “I-can’t-believe-how-awesome-that-was!” ear-to-ear, glowing smile!
The daughter, who moments earlier had been completely turned off by a conventional, unsuppressed pistol was having fun, and was excited about shooting again!
This is one of the greatest aspects of shooting with suppressors- the ability to ease in novice, and first-time shooters. Guns don’t have to be loud, concussive, and uncomfortable to shoot. Suppressors not only reduce the report of firearms, they also reduce muzzle flash and felt recoil, making for a much more enjoyable shooting experience.
If you are interested in learning more about the legal aspects of suppressor ownership, please contact me with any questions.
- Joseph Cataldie