I'm from a hunting family, been hunting since I was six years old (carried an empty .22) I have a wonderful girlfriend who's entire family doesn't own a single gun. I have seven shot guns, seven rifles. and four pistols. ( I'm 23) Understandabily she used to give me a hard time for this. I recently convinced her to take a firearms class. She chose one devoted to pistols. I gave her my Beretta 9mm 92P to use. She wound up being one of the best in her class, and caught the shooting bug.
We recently moved to Montana from Nebraska and I got excited about the possibility of hunting elk and maybe an occasional bear. I've been working on getting the right setup for the larger game. She doesn't want to be left out and is excited about taking her first game of any kind.
This is fantastic for me to hear, but I'm concerned about what kind of rifle to set her up with. She has never fired a rifle, not even a .22, but she really wants to take home her own elk this next fall.
How do I get her started, and what caliber is best for a new big game hunter? (she is only about 115 lbs.)
Any help will be apreciated, I don't want to start her off with a .300 win mag and scare her off for good.
Welcome to the board and congratulations in getting your girlfriend interested in shooting. We really need to work ar getting more people envolved, especially women.
Af far as getting her into rifle shooting, I have two pieces of advice. One you already did with the pistol. Get her into a class. Correction is a lot easier to take from an instructor and there has been way too many relationships damaged by the frustrations of a firing line. Second, don't worry about what gun she will end up with, worry about which rifle she should start with. Recoil and muzzle blast will turn someone off faster than anything except a nagging boyfriend/coach. Start with a 22 at 25 yards, they are a lot of fun, and fun is what is all about [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif[/img]! Then start moving her up to small center fire rifles like a 223, especially if it is pretty accurate. Sucess and fun will pretty much lead to more sucess in the future. Gradually move up in size as she becomes comfortable with the recoil and noise. Let her progress at her pace which may not reflect yours. Remember it has to be fun for her and in the future you will have a hunting partner and a life partner and it just don't get any better than that [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/wink.gif[/img].
If you don't have a particular rifle look around. Either a friend or maybe someone at the range will let you borrow one.
Best of luck.
"When working with the public, there are two things you need to remember. - 1. The public is a bunch of ignorant morons. - 2. YOU and I are one of them!"
I was in a similar situation as you about 10 years ago with my girlfriend to be wife eventually. She had never shot anything at all or had the least amount of interest in hunting but I wanted to see if she liked shooting just as a recreational sport.
I got her(and myself [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif[/img]) a Ruger M77 MkII VT in 22-250 and decked it out with a good vrmint scope and took her out to the range. It took her litereally minutes to catch on and now she is as proficient as I am with a long gun.
My advise to you is do not push her to go hunting right away unless she is really wanting to. Remember that for the new hunter, especially a young lady, a bad experience could mean the end of her desire to hunt.
If everything works out good and the result is a good clean kill that is quick and efficent and she can see this she will get very involved in hunting. If she sees a wounded animal get away, more then likely this will be the end of her hunting.
Women tend to be much more connected to the game they hunt in a personal manor, something I feel we as men could learn from. Because of this they are far less willing to push the issue and take a risky shot just to get a game animal. Again, this make for a better hunter in my opinion.
The first thing you need to do is get her behind a rifle that is very accurate and very low in recoil. Youare teaching her shooting technique before all else here. A rifle like the 223 mentioned is about as ideal as it comes.
You want her to shoot ALOT, take her out busting gophers or just punching paper on the weekends and let her burn 200 rounds of ammo a day or as much as she wants just to get her comfortable on the rifle.
Most improtantly be patient, do not in any way pressure her to take a shot quickly or if she is having trouble finding the target in the scope do not rush her. Let her find her way and ALWAYS support and reinforce her.
Remember you are the experienced one and you have to provide her the experience but more importantly the confidence to be successful. If she knows you are confident in her, she will perform much better.
Once she is proficent with the lighter rifles youcan move up to the big game calibers.
One bit of advise I would also give, start her out hunting deer instead of elk or pronghorns. Deer hunting, while extremely challanging to harvest a big mature deer is generally much easier physically and mentally then the other big game species.
Elk hunting can be flat out destructive mentally and physically. Even the best elk hunters rarely harvest animals yearly.
Get her successful first on something like whitetails or Mulies on easy country before you start chasing elk in the high country or crawling 400 yards after a big pronghorn. Let her catch the bug and then do these other more extreme hunts.
Also, when hunting, if a shot presents itself, get her set up ready to shoot, make sure she is on the animal she should be and then "SHUT UP UNTIL SHE SHOOTS!"
If the animal walks away because she is not comfortable with the shot so be it, do not in any way rush her to take a shot or scorn her if the animal gets away without a shot.
This happened several times with my wife with big whitetails and she would be in tears after the big deer walked away and into the brush. My comment was always the same.
"Its better to let them walk the rush a shot and loose a wounded animal."
It is the most difficult thing you will ever do to watch a big buck stand out in a field with your girlfriend on the rifle with what would be a chip shot for you but for her things just are not perfect.
I have often looked away just praying for the rifle to bark and many times it never did.
No matter what you do, never make her feel she has failed if she doesn't take a shot. Reinforce her that its far better to be cautious then in a hurry because it is!
As far as rifles go, keep things in perspective. Some women can handle anything a man can, but many perform far better with a smaller caliber.
For deer, there is nothing like a lighter rifle with the correct dimensions chambered in something like a 260 rem, 7mm-08 or a 25-06.
While many will say these are light for elk, they are perfect for deer out to 300 yards. Farther then she should be starting anyway. As far as elk go, you put a quality big game bullet in any of these three and with proper lung shots, elk drop easily from these smaller calibers.
Once she gets used to larger rifles, something in the lines of a 270 or even better a 280 will serve her very well but she needs to learn to handle recoil a bit before she gets into this class of round.
I was kind of lucky, I was able to build my wife her rifle. Take her to the sporting good stores and see what she likes. Remember, women tend to like pretty rifles, laminated wood and such. Get her what she wants if you can afford it.
If she likes her rifle, thats just one more step taken in the journey.
Above all else, support her and never, ever pressure her. Believe me there will be times you will almost have to get up and leave but never rush her. YOu have to shut up and let her take that shot herself.
The rewards for your work together will pay off I assure you and you will be closer then you ever thought possible. You will also find the best hunting partner you could ever have.
Work as harder to help her be successful as you would for yourself and understand that even if a big buck walks away, reminder her that is the reason your out there, jsut seeing the animals is a throphy. Killing is certainly not the reward.
Good luck and have fun in the field!
Allen Precision Shooting
Home of the Allen Magnum, Allen Xpress and Allen Tactical Wildcats and the Painkiller Muzzle brakes.
CornHunter: Your first responder has given you some good advice. I started my fiancee (who is now my wife and mother of my kids) with squirrel hunting with a shotgun and then rabbit hunting later on. She also likes to shoot pistols.
For rifle hunting--and this is true of everybody, not just women---.22 rimfire,
The man, woman or child who masters basic marksmanship and riflery with the .22 rimfire first will always be the best shooters in the future. You probably already have a .22, but if you are itching for an excuse to buy a .17Mach2 rimfire--this could be it. It would function as a low-recoil marksmanship teacher for your gal and would have a longer range than a .22, so it would actually be good practice for deer and elk hunting.
You might also consider taking her prairie dog or woodchuck hunting first before you go after elk with her. I would suggest squirrel hunting too, but I don't know if Montana is the place to try squirrels!?
When you do buy a centerfire for her; please, do not get her anything that kicks more than a .270 Winchester--that would be no fun for her (or you).
A couple of guys at my deer camp love to hunt deer with the .257 Roberts. Perfect for deer. You might also consider a .260 for deer.
For elk, you can do no better than the .270 Winchester for a small framed gal or even a small framed man who wants to avoid heavy recoil. If she never flinches when shooting (watch for this) and recoil doesn't bother her any, perhaps a .308 Winchester or .30-06 in the future.
Another way to make recoil a piece of cake for her in a centerfire rifle is to get the lightwieght (alloy receiver) Browning BAR. Even in harder kicking cartridges, the BAR is always pleasant for the shooter because its gas-operation reduces the felt recoil. And they are accurate too.
Thanks for all the good advise. I'll get her started with the .22 and move up from there. The idea of prairie dog hunting seems like an excellent place to start after she is comfortable punching paper.
I guess I got a little to excited when she started asking me to take her elk hunting and forgot that everyone has to start with a basics. [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/crazy.gif[/img]
This is Mrs. 4ked Horn responding at 4ked Horn's request.
All the advice so far is good. Start small, let her shoot a variety of rifles (borrow from friends if you have to). But one thing I picked up on is that everyone seems to underestimate her due to her small stature. I can handle a .30-06 better than 4ked Horn's best friend because he is built like a brick wall and I yeild to the recoil. Let her decide when she wants to increase in caliber, but don't think she can't handle something.
My personal favorite for lack of recoil is the Mini 14. The gas operated semi auto action just rolls the shoulder back rather than slamming straight backward. Not great for your large game hunting, but I think you could use it as an intermediate step up to larger calibers.
Go easy on the idea of hunting prairie dogs and such. She may be opposed to killing an animal that she wont be eating. Don't be surprised if she is. Respect her opinion on such things, even if it is different from your own. She may become comfortable with varmint hunting after she is comfortable with big game.
Protect her from "Bubba's" at the gun counter. New shooters don't like being overwhelmed by know-it-alls. It would be nice if you go in ahead of time and establish a rapport with a calm, easy mannered sales rep. I've had lots of bad experiences at gun counters. I ask for a gun, they hand it to 4ked Horn, who then hands it to me. It is better now than it was 10 years ago, I went into a gun store last week asking to see Benelli's and the guy was really nice. But there are a couple stores in town that I refuse to go into because the sales staff was so abrasive.
In the beginning she may become bored easily. Rather than planning an all day that the range experience, consider shorter trips with fewer guns so she isn't overwhelmed. (Heck take a picnic lunch and wine and be romantic, that should score you some points!) In the early days, I would get bored after an hour or so. It took quite a few years until I could spend 6 hours at the range. Same same for gun lessons and gun counter excursions. Watch carefully and end it on a good note before she gets bored.
Finally, you should consider preparing her for killing an animal. I remember being surprised at how little blood was involved, but the smell was worse than I expected. One thing I had going for me was that 4ked Horn's dad raised animals. I watched the whole process from birth to the dinner table. It is good to make the connection that what we are eating was once alive and "someone" had to kill it and that is the natural way of things.
GRAVITY. It's not just a good idea. It's the LAW!
These "new woman" and "small women" and junior posts always kill me. I am a man and I HATE recoil. Why would I want to use a magnum if I didn't need to? I recently grabbed a used Remington BDL in 7mm-08. I had a brand new Winchester 70 Featherweight in 7mm-08 and it kicked like hell. I tried it in 6.5x55 and it wasn't much better. The Remington BDL in 7mm-08 is fun to shoot and I believe I can kill anyhing in North America with it. One thing to remember about recoil is the stock design and apparently Remington's is better than Winchester, at least for ME. This is a subjective thing.
I fell into the magnum spell and bought a 7mm magnum in an older Sako AV action. Beautiful gun, topped with a 4200 Elite, and it kicks less than the 270 Remington synthetic they sell at Walmart. I've fired them side by side.
Check for fit, try to find higher end stocks ddesgined for reducing recoil. The 6.5x55 Swede will also kill anything in North America. Europeans have used them for year on their moose, whciha re similar in size to our elk. True, moose are easier to kill than elk, but the 6.5x55 is a gret penetrator and will do the job if the shooter does their.
Check out the ballistics on both the 7mm-08 and the 6.5x55 and you'll like what you see. The 6.5 is actually better than the 06 in similar grain bullets. Recoil is slightly less with the 7mm-08, again, depending on the rifle and fit.