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Discussion Starter #1
Good evening,
My name is Neil, and I am an NRA Certified Pistol Instructor, RSO, with certifications to teach In Home/Out of Home Protection.
I have been training students for the better part of this year, so I am fairly new to the party. While I train privately from my home, I also teach weekly with the chief instructor at my local shooting range.
I have a student who I taught a Basic Pistol course to (with her husband), and also tonight as a private class at the range - all shooting. We revisited foundation and fundamentals through discussion and demonstration prior to beginning shooting.
This student is very shaky. She continually tells me about how nervous she is, and her hands are visibly shaking, thus resulting in inconsistent shot placement.
I had her try some breathing exercises tonight, continually reassured her that she was doing fine, and that there is no pressure to be a sniper after only two trips to the range. Her stance, grip, and aiming look to be in order, aside from her nerves making her hands shake.
We are shooting 22LR semi-auto's at 15ft., and have tried a couple of guns, making sure she had a proper and comfortable grip and could reach and manipulate all the controls, etc. As well. I have her shooting at blank white paper, having her focus on shooting straight instead of focusing on specific areas of a target.

I am looking for different suggestions on how to help calm her and minimize her shakes. My chief instructor told me to take the target down and have her shoot a mag at the back wall, then joke with her that this is as bad as it will ever get. When she shoots at the next target, in theory she should feel more confident.

I'm looking forward to reading your suggestions, and I thank you for your assistance.

Kind regards,

Neil
 

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For my daughter it took lots of trigger time and I had her disassemble, clean and re-assemble the pistol until she was very familiar with it. I think the cleaning and getting more familiar with the firearm was a big help in getting her to not be so afraid of it. That's my 2 cents.
 

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The Shadow (Moderator)
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You're asking how a watch works, Neil.

You've been instructing her, so you tell us:
Why did she(not he)tell you she is there?
What did she(not you and not he) tell you she actually wants?
What did she actually tell you she's concerned about?

People don't normally violently shake when they are just "nervous", they do it when they are being made to do something they don't want to.

Welcome to the board.
 

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You're asking how a watch works, Neil.

You've been instructing her, so you tell us:
Why did she(not he)tell you she is there?
What did she(not you and not he) tell you she actually wants?
What did she actually tell you she's concerned about?

People don't normally violently shake when they are just "nervous", they do it when they are being made to do something they don't want to.

Welcome to the board.
Good points!
I’m retired after 33 years as a PE teacher.
We taught NASP archery in our class each year.
We had students who would be so nervous because they were conditioned that the bow was a dangerous weapon. Same symptoms as you describe.
Shaking, painfully nervous, etc....
How many people are also in the class?
many times students can’t perform in front of an “audience”. Even if it is just her husband.
Maybe this should be just a one on one session with NO ONE ELSE including the husband.
As someone else mentioned the more you shoot the easy it will be and the more familiar they get the less nervous.
Each student is different and we have to try as many things we can until we find what works.
 

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I use a long barreled .22 pistol from a sandbag rest to teach sight alignment and trigger control. Take away the 'holding up the heavy gun' part and concentrate on getting consistent hits even on ever smaller targets. Then, I teach the rest. Anytime bad habits creep in, go back to the basics from sandbags.
 
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The Troll Whisperer (Moderator)
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Holding NRA Instructor ratings for years and teaching people from 5 to 80 years old, both male and female, might be able to give you a few pointers that helped get the word across to them.
First - the firearm only shoots in the direction pointed.
Second - Newton's Law says for every action there is a reaction. In this instance, recoil and noise. Neither of which has killed the shooter to date.
Third - Learning to control thought, pulse and eye coordination are all conducive to good shooting results. If the person is continually keeping the thought of recoil and noise in their minds while holding the firearm instead of concentrating on sight picture, breathing and squeezing, the shot will invariably be off and the trigger jerked. Relax as much as possible, get breath and pulse under control and try to attain the best sight picture possible as the trigger is squeezed and not jerked. This is the most important part of instruction to develop the shooter.
Fourth - Recognize the fact the bigger the caliber and/or propellant charge, the more noise and recoil.
Fifth - Practice makes perfect. Lots to be said for dry firing if the firearm has a center strike. Rim fires not so much. Dummy ammo (plastic especially) is recommended for rimfires and don't hurt to use in centerfires.. Relax - an overly strong grip will cause tremors to affect the sight picture. That's not to say a handgun shouldn't be held with some firmness, just don't over compensate.
Sixth - Enjoy the sport.
 

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I am not a firearms instructor, just a faith counselor, but I can tell you she is uncomfortable if not very afraid of something that she is doing. You need her to tell you what is going on in her mind. It may have little to do with the gun or shooting it but it is connected to something personal in her mind. It might be the fact that she is being trained by a man or is undergoing performance anxiety. Ask her what is going through her mind that makes her shake and LISTEN to what she feels. After that you can work up a method to reduce her anxiety and promote calm.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks everyone for the replies, quite a bit of useful information here.
To clarify a bit further -
The female student is who really wants to learn and talked her husband into getting proper instruction. Her husband mentioned to me that she thinks about class all day, is excited about it, and he thinks she is overthinking it - almost to obsession. She seems to get to me pretty amped, and I don't mean drug amped, though I did question her use of caffeine/coffee prior to class.
It could simply be a case of "opening day" jitters, and with more trigger time, especially starting with a one-on-one class with me, she will start to calm down. She may be a natural "over-thinker", or even possibly suffer some form of anxiety. I am pretty confident it isn't a fear of shooting, or the downstream consequences, but more of a brain overload.
I have printed off your suggestions, and will certainly keep them in my bag of tricks.
The more feedback, the better it makes me, and the better I can help future students.
I appreciate your comments very much!

Best wishes,

Neil
 

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With your latest information, I would echo the thoughts of dry firing. I say this with the understanding that it is not fear or an unwillingness to be there that is creating her anxiety. Dry firing really helped me get a feel for the pistol and lets you see how the pistol reacts to your trigger pull and grip.
 

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I'd make sure there's no caffeine or cold meds involved---have her drink a glass of milk and make sure blood sugar is not an issue --- have her use a 22 rifle until she asks for the pistol back.
 

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Good evening,
My name is Neil, and I am an NRA Certified Pistol Instructor, RSO, with certifications to teach In Home/Out of Home Protection.
I have been training students for the better part of this year, so I am fairly new to the party. While I train privately from my home, I also teach weekly with the chief instructor at my local shooting range.
I have a student who I taught a Basic Pistol course to (with her husband), and also tonight as a private class at the range - all shooting. We revisited foundation and fundamentals through discussion and demonstration prior to beginning shooting.
This student is very shaky. She continually tells me about how nervous she is, and her hands are visibly shaking, thus resulting in inconsistent shot placement.
I had her try some breathing exercises tonight, continually reassured her that she was doing fine, and that there is no pressure to be a sniper after only two trips to the range. Her stance, grip, and aiming look to be in order, aside from her nerves making her hands shake.
We are shooting 22LR semi-auto's at 15ft., and have tried a couple of guns, making sure she had a proper and comfortable grip and could reach and manipulate all the controls, etc. As well. I have her shooting at blank white paper, having her focus on shooting straight instead of focusing on specific areas of a target.

I am looking for different suggestions on how to help calm her and minimize her shakes. My chief instructor told me to take the target down and have her shoot a mag at the back wall, then joke with her that this is as bad as it will ever get. When she shoots at the next target, in theory she should feel more confident.

I'm looking forward to reading your suggestions, and I thank you for your assistance.

Kind regards,

Neil
Sounds like she needs to get used to firearms with a .22 rifle. I don't know if thats possible in this case.
 

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I would take these two approaches.

Perhaps a better understandingof the mechanical workings of the firearm may help.
For my daughter it took lots of trigger time and I had her disassemble, clean and re-assemble the pistol until she was very familiar with it. I think the cleaning and getting more familiar with the firearm was a big help in getting her to not be so afraid of it. That's my 2 cents.
Familiarity of the shooting actions by repeated, safe dry-firing may also help.
, I would echo the thoughts of dry firing
 

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From different courses I've taken, taught and instructors I've worked with. Is she shooting with her husband there? If so have him step outside off the range.
She could be literally taking the course because hes making her and have no actual interest or he has attempted to "teach her to shoot" before. More often than not does more harm than good.
 

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Good evening,
My name is Neil, and I am an NRA Certified Pistol Instructor, RSO, with certifications to teach In Home/Out of Home Protection.
I have been training students for the better part of this year, so I am fairly new to the party. While I train privately from my home, I also teach weekly with the chief instructor at my local shooting range.
I have a student who I taught a Basic Pistol course to (with her husband), and also tonight as a private class at the range - all shooting. We revisited foundation and fundamentals through discussion and demonstration prior to beginning shooting.
This student is very shaky. She continually tells me about how nervous she is, and her hands are visibly shaking, thus resulting in inconsistent shot placement.
I had her try some breathing exercises tonight, continually reassured her that she was doing fine, and that there is no pressure to be a sniper after only two trips to the range. Her stance, grip, and aiming look to be in order, aside from her nerves making her hands shake.
We are shooting 22LR semi-auto's at 15ft., and have tried a couple of guns, making sure she had a proper and comfortable grip and could reach and manipulate all the controls, etc. As well. I have her shooting at blank white paper, having her focus on shooting straight instead of focusing on specific areas of a target.

I am looking for different suggestions on how to help calm her and minimize her shakes. My chief instructor told me to take the target down and have her shoot a mag at the back wall, then joke with her that this is as bad as it will ever get. When she shoots at the next target, in theory she should feel more confident.

I'm looking forward to reading your suggestions, and I thank you for your assistance.

Kind regards,

Neil
Have you thought about switching to a light weight 22 single shot rifle shooting shorts?
She might need some help from a woman instructor
 

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I too am an instructor, Pistol, rifle, shotgun and reloading. What I do is simple, I have a very tricked out Ruger 10-22 with a Simmons high power variable scope with adjustable Objective lens. I dial the power up, adjust the focus and sand bag the gun. After they consistently put 10 rounds into a quarter sized group at 25 yards, with little to no recoil, their confidence is way up and they've calmed way down.
 

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Get her to a female instructor and leave the husband at home.
 
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The Shadow (Moderator)
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Indeed.
Unfortunately it has all the appearances of a drive-by.
 
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