Push the Mower – Smart Teaching Concepts By:

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(Amazon)

I really love teaching new people how to shoot guns. I went through the entire NRA course to learn how to be an instructor. As much as people make fun of the NRA courses, their basic ones are pretty good. I find it super rewarding to see new shooters start to hit targets, have fun, and be safe. That’s why we do it. I can’t be the only one who enjoys teaching new shooters, and I think new shooters are how we maintain the Second Amendment. With that in mind, I wanted to share a tip I’ve learned for teaching new shooters and how to get through to people who don’t have a background. I call it Push the Mower, and it’s an idea that helps normal people understand basic shooting fundamentals by relating it to everyday things. 

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My kids go in and out of shooting phases. My son asked me to teach him to shoot, but his smaller stature made it tough to get him a rifle. I promptly purchased a Savage Rascal, and we got to shooting. 

We started with a bench-rested rifle, but when he transitioned to standing off the bench, he had this bad habit of leaning super far backward. I taught him to lean forward just a bit, but he kept leaning back like he was trying to do the limbo. I couldn’t seem to get him to lean forward; there seemed to be a disconnect between what I was saying and what he was hearing. 

(Home Depot)

There was a failure to communicate between us and the failure frustrated me more than his limbo technique. Why couldn’t I get something so simple across to him? I’ve always heard that boys learn best by doing things and not by being told. How do I get him to lean forward…. Then I spotted my old push mower. 

A quick adjustment of the handle was made for his smaller stature, and I had him push the mower. It was off, but maybe I should have gotten some free lawn mowing out of this. Anyway, I had him push the mower a few laps back and forth. We went back to the rifle, and I told him to lean forward like he was pushing the mower. It clicked, and he leaned forward, a little too far at first, but that was self-correcting. 

This gave birth to the push the mower idea. 

While I call it Push the Mower, the idea relates to any way you can simplify a concept for a new shooter. When it comes to stance, most people have an idea of how a boxer stands. Shooters stand a lot like boxers. When it comes to sight focus, explain it by holding up a finger and alternating focus from the finger to a fixed point. 

As gun guys and gals, we often get stuck in our own language and nomenclature. We get stuck on knowing how to do something so easily that it becomes somewhat difficult to relate to a beginner. Finding ways to illustrate concepts through everyday activities and common knowledge simplifies things. It helps new shooters learn more efficiently and effectively. 

One of the worst things for new shooters is frustration. New shooters should be excited to learn, and to have fun. Getting frustrated due to a failure to communicate can be massively detrimental. When you and a new shooter get stuck on some basic fundamental marksmanship skill, take a moment. Find a way to relate it to something simple and nongun-related. Find your mower and push it!