I took my ex girlfriend’s young brother shooting this weekend. He wanted to try it, and she said it was fine, despite the fact she’s not all that comfortable around guns herself. This was a true first time shooter, which I will typically start with long guns rather than pistol. The real question is whether to start with a .22 (best option, typically) or move up to the AR-15. Generally if someone is a little timid, I’ll go for the .22LR. If they don’t display any particular timidity around firearms, I’ll upgrade to the AR.
Guys typically like shooting the military stuff if they’ve never shot before, so I took the AK-47 and AR-15. He displayed a bit of recoil sensitivity with the AK-47, and struggled a bit more with the operating system. Consistently, people who are new shooters much prefer the AR-15 over anything else. I find they latch on to the AR-15 operating system really fast, and become proficient quickly. The sights are also easy to explain and intuitive on the AR-15. I noticed he wasn’t hitting anything with the AK, and after a brief explanation of the notch sight, I don’t think he was sighting it properly.
Setting the target out at 20 yards, with the AR-15 he was hitting groups about the size of an orange at first, from bench, then they’d loosen up. I see that a lot from new shooters, and I think it’s recoil anticipation that’s building up. His shooting with the AK was all over the place. I think the recoil was making him tense up too much and jerk the rifle too much in anticipation.
In conclusion, I think the AR-15 platform is really the best for new shooters. A more conventional looking .22 might be more apt for someone who is truly timid, because a lot of people make assumptions about military patterned guns are just aren’t correct. I’ve not had much luck with getting new people to enjoy shooting the AK-47 platform, particularly people who are recoil sensitive. For beginners, I think the AK-74 platform is a better choice. I will have to try that on my next new shooter.