So, last Sunday at the range Brad_in_MA had a great question for me. He's offered to take a couple new shooters to the range, and was wondering if I had any suggestions. He's certainly competent enough to go over the safety basics and the general operation, so I figured I'd offer a few suggestions from my own experiences bringing folks to the range. None of this is meant to be inclusive or "this way is best", nothing like that; it's all "this has worked for me, feel free to adapt as you'd like/as will befit your situation".
First off, if you can arrange it, take a half hour or so somewhere not on the firing line and run your new shooter through the basic operation of any firearm they will be shooting. Using snap caps (NO LIVE AMMO), have them load the firearm, fire, and eject the round. Run through how to handle jams, etc. - have them hand the firearm to you. Run through the basics of grip and stance; but don't get too wonky - just show basic Weaver/Isoceles and let them decide which is better suited for them.
Also, something that I've had good luck with - but had to use very rarely - is arranging a signal ahead of time. A tap on the shoulder, a rap on the bench, something to alert them to stop. Obviously if they're doing something that could cause harm to themselves or others stop them immediately, but if it's something more procedural, like they are holding something the wrong way or just could be doing better. Basically, you tell them that if you do [X], they should stop immediately and place the firearm on the bench/table.
There's a few things to consider when taking a new person shooting. First and foremost is to allow plenty of time - this is a pretty intimidating thing they're getting into, and rushing them into it is NOT going to go over well. Another thing to remember is that this is about them - when you take a new person shooting, plan on shooting very little yourself. Start early or stay late if you want to do your own shooting. Lastly, a trick I've found that helps a lot is to forget a bullseye target and use a white 10" paper dinner plate. New shooters often focus on the X ring and get frustrated if they can't hit it, so I'll start new shooters off with the simpler task of keeping all shots on the plate.
I've found it works well to run through the operation yourself, first. Load, aim, and fire the firearm they are about to shoot so that they can see how it works. Ideally, only take a few shots just to give them the general idea; don't stop after a certain number, but ask if they'd like to take over. If they do, put the safety on (if applicable), put the firearm down on the bench/table, and let them at it. If they're only shooting a half-dozen rounds or less, take a moment to gauge their interest/mood, and ask if they'd like to shoot some more. Don't assume that they love it and want to keep going.
Now, for hardware... Here's where it gets tetchy. I'm a huge fan of the .22LR cartridge for new shooters. Low recoil, low noise, inexpensive (well, for the most part); there's a lot to like about the rimfire round. I like to bring a .22LR revolver and an autoloader, and for each, I prefer to customize it to the new shooter I'm bringing. I try to avoid using "vintage" pieces or guns with optics; there's an awful lot to learn without worrying about the finish on that classic S&W or the fancy Burris red dot on a Mark III.
Personal preference here, but I like to give a general overview, so I'll bring a rimfire revolver and semi-automatic as well as a centerfire for each. A 4" barrel .38 Special is a good place to start someone for centerfire handguns; a steel semi-auto like a Beretta 92 or a Sig 226 is pretty decent as well. For centerfire semi-autos, you might want to consider only loading 2 or 3 rounds for the first go-round just to be on the safe side.
Again, every new shooter is different, and every person bringing a new shooter to the range will be different. I understand not everyone has an armory that contains different firearms of the same caliber; however I urge anyone bringing a new shooter to the range to stick to lower-power, larger-framed firearms if at all possible. Please, for the love of John Moses Browning (PBUH), leave the Ruger Alaskan or the AMT Backup 45 home.
So, what other advice can you offer someone bringing their first new shooter to the range?
That is all.