By Lars Dalseide | September 30 2014 15:39

Annette Doerr of WeShoot2 shares firearm related lessons learned from the equine industry

Annette Stevens-Doerr upon her horse, Cody

Firearms and horses go together like peanut butter and jelly. Well, for me, strawberry jam. That's why after reading NRA Certified Instructor Annette Doerr's piece on WeShoot2 about the ten things her horse taught her about shooting I begged her to let us re-publish it here on NRAblog.

Ten Things My Horse Taught Me About Shooting

1. You get what you pay for. The old saying “You get what you pay for” is absolutely true. I once got a “great deal” on a water bottle for trail riding. It seemed handy, hooked over the horn of my western saddle and then secured around the fender. Sounds great, right? Well the first time we used it was when my husband (not exactly an equestrian) took my horse on a Poker Run with some friends of mine. It was all good, until my horse started spinning and bucking. Seems the nylon strap that hooked the water bottle over the horn came undone causing the full water bottle to drop onto my horses shoulder, spooking him as it banged into him every time he moved.

Now imagine getting a “great deal” on a cheap holster. Is securing your weapon something you REALLY want to skimp on? Cheap, Chinese plastic may look like a good deal, but if it cracks and breaks while you’re using it, the last thing you need is to have your weapon unsecured or worse yet, fall. While there are plenty of good deals to be had on quality holsters, know what you’re buying, and buy the best quality that you can afford (preferably American made!)

2. Breath. Yes, breathing is important in both equestrian activities and shooting. When I’m on my horse and I get nervous, I sing. I’m a terrible singer, but singing keeps me breathing.

Target shooters know that breathing is key! It is recommended that you take your shot at the end of an exhale to keep things consistent. If you’re having consistency problems, try to remember to take notice of your breathing, and let the shot go when fully exhaled!

Annette give Cody a hug 3. Keep it clean. Routine maintenance is important. You can’t just show up at the barn, take the horse out of his stall and go for a ride. Keeping a healthy and happy horse means spending a lot of time not riding! Grooming, bathing, and cleaning parts that we don’t even want to discuss here are all part of horse ownership. Is it glamorous, no. Necessary? Absolutely!

Maintenance of your firearm is just as important. Routine and regular cleaning is a necessary part of ownership. At basic minimum, you need to know how to field strip your firearm and clean it. Regularly. A clean firearm is more likely to perform better. A bore snake in my range bag and a small bottle of Hoppes #9 allows me to give my favorite firearm a quick once-over before I leave the range. Later, when time permits, I can strip my pistol down and give him a proper and thorough cleaning.

4. Size matters. Ponies are notorious for being naughty. While logic would dictate that a small horse should be easier to handle than a large draft cross, but guess what? Ponies have no idea that they are smaller! Often times, these sassy little mini-me’s are tough little buggers to work with!

Similarly, a sub-compact pistol, while in the same caliber as the pistol you are used to shooting, may be a snappy little thing with more recoil than you’re ready for! Always try to shoot a handgun before you buy it. A 9 mm with a 5 inch barrel will feel completely different than a 9 mm 3 inch sub-compact conceal carry handgun. Work with a professional instructor if necessary to ensure that you are proficient with whatever size pistol you end up purchasing, but know that a small size does not mean small recoil!

5. Be Patient. You probably won’t take your very first riding lesson and then enter the Olympics. Likewise you shouldn’t expect to be a virtual sniper the first time you go shooting. Practice, practice, practice. Work with an experienced instructor and get to the range every chance you can. Should you ever “need” your weapon in a defensive situation, you want muscle memory to be able to take over (as opposed to having to stop and think about what to do). Learning to shoot proficiently takes time, be patient and keep practicing.


Read the rest of Annette's article on the Ten Things My Horse Taught Me About Shooting on the WeShoot2 website.

Annette Stevens-Doerr and family on a ride at Hideout Ranch


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