6 Necessary Shooting Tips For Beginners

Looking to learn how to shoot a handgun? Here are 6 shooting tips to help you get started!

So you want to learn how to shoot a gun? That is great! Despite what you may see in movies or read in books, shooting accurately and safely actually takes a lot of practice, focus, and technique.

Even someone who claims that they are an experienced shooter can make silly mistakes and may develop habits that can be hard to correct. Being a new shooter, you have a clean slate and are in a great position to learn the basics for shooting a gun safely.

Click here to see these 6 tips!

Questions Asked About Gun Ownership

One of the greatest joys in life is when your best friend starts to take interest in something you find so very important. The even greater joy is when they come to you for advice.

A couple of years ago, my friend Allison and I were attending a university in Huntsville, TX. I don’t know what any of you know about Huntsville, but most people you ask respond with “isn’t that the place with all the prisons?”. Yes. Yes it is. Huntsville, TX is where this nation’s criminals get transferred before they’re executed. Sounds like a great place, doesn’t it? The city is literally surrounded by about 9 different prisons. You can imagine how frightening it is to hear when someone escapes (which they do on a yearly basis) or when you hear that someone has been released. Because of this, you learn to trust your instincts and gain the knowledge that if someone appears to be up to no good, it’s usually because they are.

We had a couple of experiences where we were legitimately worried for our safety walking around campus at night or coming home late from work. One incident in particular, we ended up finding a University Police call station to call for help. The man on the other end was laughing and carrying on conversation with his co-workers while we were trying to tell him what was happening. We ended up repeating ourselves several times AND it took them over 20 minutes to get to us. Had we not felt helpless, things would have gone differently. This is why I encourage women, on college campuses or not, to get a gun.

My friend has recently graduated and will be moving to Houston. A place in which she feels she would be much more comfortable living if she was able to carry. She came to me with a few questions and I decided to share them with you:

Questions

1. What is the first thing you should do when beginning to consider owning a gun?
  • Do your research. Look into classes in your area. I highly recommend NRA’s First Steps Pistol courses. You can even do a women’s only course! This will give you a chance to learn about gun safety, maintenance, and you’ll have someone with you during your first time at the range. These instructors can also help you find what you’re looking for depending on why you want a gun. They will ask you questions and figure out your preferences to help you find what you’re looking for. This can also help address many of the concerns that people have when considering getting a gun. Please don’t ever purchase a gun without knowing how to use it. This could be extremely dangerous to you and those around you. Wait until after you feel physically and emotionally prepared to own a firearm.
2. How many times at a gun range do you think it would take to start to feel comfortable with a gun?
  • It really depends on the person. I was into my 3rd time when I really felt comfortable. My 1st time was nice and easy because I had an instructor with me. The 2nd time was really nerve-wrecking. I wasn’t sure what to say to the lady at the counter, I was nervous because there were a lot of other gun owners in the room, and I felt pressure because I wanted to be as good as the other shooters. The third time, I was much more at ease. I knew exactly what to say, went up to my station, loaded everything up and went at it. Some people take a little more time, depending on how comfortable they’ve gotten with their gun on their own time. For example, when I first purchased my gun, I sat at my dining room table and took it apart and put it back together over and over and over again. The first time was REALLY hard because I refused to cheat and look at the manual. I wanted to know exactly what to do. Now I can take it apart and reassemble it with my eyes closed in about 15 seconds. When you get comfortable with the mechanics, you feel comfortable shooting it because you took the power away from the gun. It no longer has control over you. The fear is gone because you no longer go “what happens if I do _______?” going through your head every time you pick it up. You’ll know what happens when you push that button or unlock the safety. You’ll have full control. With people like my mom, she was given the gun already loaded and told to shoot. She doesn’t know what to do with it once it’s empty. So, if your instructor wants to set everything up for you, let them do it the first couple of times and then ask to take over. Have them walk you through the steps.
3. Who should be aware of you owning a gun?
  • People you trust and people who will be around the gun. Everyone in the whole world doesn’t need to know you have one. The less people who know, the better. If a criminal knows that you have a gun, they can be prepared. If they don’t, then they’re in for one hell of a surprise. Family members who live in the same household should also know (except if you have someone who you believe it mentally unstable). Family may be intimidated or afraid at first, but once you get comfortable you can help them get comfortable with the idea and then encourage them to take safety courses as well. You can also explain to them what the benefits are of having a gun, why you feel you need one, and answer any questions they have.
4. Guns are expensive and so are bullets. Besides that what are other expenses that come with a gun?
  • There are a lot of unnecessary (but fun) accessories you can buy, but the main things you will have to worry about are cleaning supplies, range supplies (eye and ear protection), storage, and ammo. How often you need to purchase cleaning supplies will depend on how often you use your gun. You can purchase this from Wal-Mart, sports and outdoors stores, and sometimes even the range. In your introduction to class, you will be taught what supplies to use and how to use them. As for eye and ear protection, spend the money on quality. The last thing you want to do is damage your hearing or sight. Ranges do have rentals that you can use while you’re there, but they aren’t always the greatest. For storage, purchase something that you can keep out of reach from other people. You will also need it in order to transport the guns. Gun locks and safes are always a great way to go. Remember, the safety on your handgun should never be assumed to work, so have backup.gun locks
5. How often should you practice shooting and is there a continuing of education with guns and gun safety?
  • I would make it a monthly obligation to practice your shooting. You can never be too prepared. You can also never be too educated. There are plenty of opportunities to continue education and learn more about gun handling. The NRA offers tons of courses. You can look into group classes, clubs or organizations, legal courses, self-defense courses, and when things get too easy for you, try looking into stimulation courses. I have found a few places here in the area that I can go to and play our real scenarios. This would be an excellent way for me to test my response to stressful situations and how I would handle myself. The levels of difficulty increase, so you’ll always have some new way to practice. You can also look into concealed carry courses and/or testing to be an instructor.

Getting a gun is a huge responsibility and like any other thing you’ll take on, practice makes perfect.

What questions do you have about purchasing/owning a gun?

Taking Your First Trip To The Gun Range: What Do You Need To Do?

After I posted on Twitter about heading to the NRA Range and “showing these boys up”, I had several of my fellow tweeters PM me asking what they need to do to go to the range. What better way to answer than doing a post!?

First, just because you’ve purchased a gun DOES NOT mean you should just head on down to the range and go crazy. This is how a lot of people can get hurt. There are a lot of things that play into having a safe and successful trip. In order to make sure there are no accidents, take a safety course. I took NRA’s First Steps Pistol and it was great. It is 4 hours total (3 hours in class and 1 hour at the range). I HIGHLY recommend this because then you’ll have an experienced instructor guiding you the whole time.

With or without an instructor, your first trip to the range can be quite intimidating, especially if you have a competitive edge like me. But also because most people aren’t used to hearing repetitive gun shots going off 5 feet from them. When you’re trying to focus on your target and you hear another shot fired, it’s a bit distracting. Don’t worry though, you’ll get used to it. 

Before I get started, ladies, this tip is for you. Dress normally. You may want to go to the range and impress your significant other with short shorts or a low cut top, well I’m telling you right now that is a bad idea. That cute little v-neck that we all love to wear can turn into a torture device really quick. Having that scorching hot brass casing fly out of your gun and down your shirt doesn’t sound like much fun to me. So, that being said, wear a t-shirt, jeans, and closed-toed shoes.

Now to the main points of this post. What do you need to do to go to a gun range?

1. Bring your gun, ammo, and protective gear (eye and ear). Remember that your gun must be UNLOADED when walking into any range. Most ranges even prefer that the ammo is in a separate casing than the gun (I’ve only been to 1 that didn’t and it struck me as odd). If you don’t have a gun, some ranges have rentals that you can use. This is also a good tool if you’re looking to purchase a gun and would like to shoot before you buy.

2. Walk up to the counter and let them know you would like to sign in. At each range, they will have a list of rules that you must read through and sign off that you will obey. If you go to an NRA range, you will have to take a test with about 30 questions to make sure you understand these rules. If you don’t pass, you don’t get to shoot. These rules are in place for your safety as well as other’s. If you don’t want to follow them, then shooting isn’t for you. It’s YOUR responsibility to learn and abide by the rules. It is not the range officer’s job to remind you and they are very intolerant of people who don’t follow them. If you don’t want to be banned or possibly arrested/fined, then follow the rules. If you have any questions, ask them! Preferably ask them before you line up to shoot. 

Here is a copy of the NRA range rules just in case you wanted an example. Some are more picky and some are less, either way you have to follow the rules of the range that you are at. 

3- Keep your gun UNLOADED and in it’s case until you reach your lane. If you don’t have a gun case, then don’t go. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy either. The case that came with your gun when you purchased it is just fine, but do not BY ANY MEANS, just walk in with a gun in your hand. And just to re-emphasize, DO NOT BRING A LOADED GUN INTO THE RANGE. Check, then check again, and then check it once more. 

4. Once you passed the test/signed your waiver, BEFORE you walk through the doors, put on your ear and eye protection. If you don’t have any then ask they front desk if you can rent some. Although, I would recommend purchasing your own. The loaners aren’t that great and they’re uncomfortable from being stretched and squished by other shooters. Purchase your own pair. You really should anyways. And please don’t be THAT person who doesn’t want to wear protective gear (most ranges won’t let you through without it anyways). 

5. Now it is time to walk through the doors. Most ranges will have a door specifically for entrance and one for exit. If you try to exit using a door that is specifically labeled for entry, you will most likely get in quite a bit of trouble. So lesson here, just use the right door. This isn’t Wal-Mart people! 😉

REMEMBER THE “COMMANDMENTS”.

6. Now for the fun part! Set your stuff down on an empty bay and begin to unpack. Remember to keep your gun pointed down-range the entire time, EVEN when it is in it’s case. If you don’t know what “down-range” means, it means the far side of the lane in which everyone is shooting. Somewhere around the lanes, you will find a table with cardboard and staple guns for your targets. Don’t worry about leaving your personal belongings on your bay. It’s amazing how trustworthy people are in a room full of gun owners. For hanging your target, always pin/staple it to where your bulls-eye (or wherever you are aiming) is at eye level. This is so that if you shoot “low”, your bullet won’t hit the floor and possibly ricochet. Once you have put up your target, select the distance you would like to start at. I would recommend starting at 5 yards (if you’re a beginner). Don’t worry, you can always push it back further once you’ve acclimated yourself to the range and your gun. 

7. Once you’ve set up, notice the red line in front of your table. Always assume that line is “HOT”. DO NOT step over that line. EVER. If you drop your gun or your phone or $1,000,000, I don’t care. Call the range officer over and he/she will take care of it. If you pass over this line, there is a very high chance that you will get shot. And while we are on the subject of dropping things, NEVER try to catch anything that you’ve dropped. Just LET IT FALL. I have heard horrific stories of people trying to catch their gun and grabbing the trigger by mistake. If you need to pick something up, unload your gun, place it on it’s side pointing down-range, check to make sure your item is not over the firing line (“HOT” line), and THEN you can pick it up. Once again, DO NOT try to catch something as it falls and DO NOT bend down to pick something up with a loaded gun (or unloaded gun) in hand. 

8. Always, always, ALWAYS listen to the Range Officer. If they say you’re doing something wrong, then it doesn’t matter if you disagree. Their job is to keep everyone in that range safe. If they make a mistake or don’t watch someone closely enough, it is possible that someone could die, so swallow your pride and just do what they say. If they yell CEASE FIRE, stop shooting IMMEDIATELY, take your finger off the trigger, and DO NOT SHOOT. Wait for further instructions from the range officer. Some ranges even insist that you drop your mag, pull back your slide, and lay your firearm on the table pointing down-range. Like I said earlier, it all depends on the range and what rules they have in place. 

9. Once you have finished, clean up after yourself. It is extremely rude to leave your targets, trash, and brass casings everywhere and very inconvenient for the next shooter. Most ranges have this listed as a rule and will have brooms for you to use. 

Anti-gun Journalist Admits Wife Wished for Gun When Criminal Struck

Anti-gun Journalist Admits Wife Wished for Gun When Criminal Struck

 

Don’t you just love titles like that? Putting my amusement aside, this is one of the main reasons I argue my point to anti-gun advocates.

Later on, Williams remarked, “Guns do not make me feel secure. Guns scare me. And it seems to me that we have an invitation here to have more guns.” – 

This has been one of my main points since the get-go. People are afraid of guns. Seeing a gun when you know how to handle them properly doesn’t normally strike you with fear. Most of the time, you can tell if someone is trained or not simply by how they are holding their gun, what their stance is like, etc. Having this knowledge and educating yourself on proper gun handling and training could save your life, so why are people afraid of it? Because people are afraid of what they don’t understand and what they’ve never done. Think back to when you first learned to drive a car. Did the thought of having NO idea what you were doing freak you out a bit? It sure did for me! Driving now has become second nature. The same thing happens with a gun.

Secondly, once people realize that they CAN be victims of crime, they start to look at the world in a whole new light. My post yesterday about the naked man attacking a woman through her sunroof– did you listen to her in the video? She was sobbing, saying how afraid she was now because she didn’t know that could happen to her. She also commented that this incident has made her more aware of her surroundings. Now think back to the post I put about a week ago on my own personal experience. I was just some care-free college student walking around alone in a dark parking lot at night. Did I think anything could happen to me? No. Do I realize now that I could be attacked at any moment? Yes, because things happen. Attackers don’t come after you when they feel that you are aware that they’re there. Now this lady. She had her back turned and was messing with her credit card. Boom. Her car was stolen. LUCKILY she wasn’t hurt. Things like this could happen to me or you or anyone else at any moment. Call me paranoid, I don’t really care.

Carrying a gun is for YOUR safety. Studies have shown that carrying a gun actually makes your attacker LESS likely to target you.

The work of Florida State Professor of Criminology Gary Kleck determined that “[r]obbery and assault victims who used a gun to resist were less likely to be attacked or to suffer an injury than those who used any other methods of self-protection or those who did not resist at all.”