Fitting Handguns for Senior Women
Dr. John Woods 06.25.15
This past weekend I worked the grand opening of the Boondocks Firearms Training Academy’s Pro Shop in Raymond, Mississippi. I came away with one primary lesson learned. Older women want to learn to shoot. They want to have the empowerment of self-protection. Some of them are just downright scared and want to be able to defend themselves. They want to buy a handgun and learn how to handle it safely and shoot it well.
Accordingly, never let your husband buy a handgun for you. Let a professional firearms instructor appropriately “fit” a proper handgun to your hand’s feel and grip. The other thing I learned is that obviously no two person’s hands are alike, and not every handgun model fits everybody’s hands.
Older ladies especially with petite hands or even a slight touch of arthritis have a very difficult time manipulating handguns. Over the course of two days, I probably counseled with twenty ladies that fell into this category. First, they were somewhat apprehensive and scared to handle any firearm, but I found most of them could not operate some kinds of guns.
Some of the ladies could not cock a revolver. Others could not pull a double action revolver trigger. The strength was simply not there. One lady I worked with could not even open the cylinder on a .22 magnum rimfire revolver to simulate loading it. This inability to do these normal handgun operational tasks was very frustrating for them. Dedicated training and individual instructor assistance would help immensely with these situations.
Nearly universally these senior ladies could not cycle the slide on any striker fired, non-hammer operated pistols. After I showed them some of the semi-auto pistols with a hammer, they were able to cock them–sometimes with the palm of the hand, and surprisingly most could then pull the slide back. A decocking feature would be best for them.
Some were so frustrated they simply walked away. I was able to coax some of them back for more discussion. In a couple cases I handed them off to one of the range instructors. Hopefully some will come back for a formal class.
Ladies definitely want to learn to shoot a gun. Instruction is the key to their success, and they need a handgun custom chosen and fitted. Then they will feel confident to successfully shoot it.