- Memorize the Four Commandments of Firearms Safety.
- Take a basic firearms class from a firearms instructor (not your buddy from work, not from a video on YouTube, but an actual class with actual experienced and well-trained instructors).
- Rent (or borrow) firearms before purchasing your own. It is easy enough to go buy the first nice handgun or rifle that you set eyes on, but it's quite another thing to practice with and use a firearm that just doesn't work well for you. By renting or borrowing firearms first, you get to "try before you buy" and will learn what types of firearms work best for you.
- Decide if you should even own a firearm. I believe that firearms offer the ultimate in personal protection but they also require the ultimate in responsible use. Some people aren't ready for this, and some people are morally opposed to firearms and yet others think they will just use a firearms to "scare" a burglar or something. Know why you are getting a firearm and know that in a worst case scenario (which could actually happen) you may use it to kill someone.
- Always use eye and ear protection when you or others are shooting. You would be amazed at how fast an eye injury can happen when shooting or how quickly you can lose hearing in your ears if you don't protect them.
- Buy a firearm that meets your needs. Often it won't be the most expensive firearm or the firearm that all of your friends own/want or even the firearm that your favorite gun magazine is raving about this month. Firearms are as individual as shooters so what works for others may not be optimal for you.
- Buy your firearms from a reputable dealer (there are reasons to buy firearms from private parties or firearms that are untraceable but for beginners, let's step into gun ownership on the right foot). Don't buy a firearm from some guy you don't know and definitely have reservations about buying a firearm that is less than half the price of what you should be paying. You don't want to end up with lousy product and you don't want a firearm that has been used in a crime.
- Take care of your firearms. Learn how to clean them properly, learn how to disassemble and assemble them properly, learn how to (safely) fix jams, etc.
- Don't learn your shooting skills from TV or movies. Much of what you see in regards to firearms in these venues is great for theatrical affect, not so much in real life.
- If you are going to carry concealed, get a concealed carry license for your state.
- And the corollary, know your state laws in regards to firearms (ie: you often can't carry firearms into bars, casinos, and federal buildings, etc) and the laws regarding firearm use for personal defense (laws vary dramatically by state).
- Buy lots of ammo. You will use more than you think. For bonus points, learn how to reload your own ammo.
- Practice A LOT. If you own a firearm, you must practice with it often. A firearm is more dangerous to you if you buy it, stick it in a closet, on pull it out years later to use it in an emergency. Practice often.
- Always keep your firearms within your control or locked up. Far too many firearm injuries and deaths are caused by firearms being left where people who shouldn't access them (like kids) find them and play around with them and end up shooting themself or someone else. This should never happen.
- Know how to safely transport your firearm to and from the range. You should learn this in your firearms class, if not, find a knowledgeable friend to show you how.
- Never use or carry your firearm when under the influence of drugs or alcohol. That is a felony waiting to happen.
- Continue to educate yourself about firearms even after your class has ended. With the proliferation of blogs, websites, magazines, et al. about guns these days, you can study something new about firearms every day and never run out of material.
- Hang out with knowledgeable (and responsible) gun owners. You can learn quite a lot that way, end up with lots of new firearms to try out, find good deals on firearms an ammo through the grapevine, and meet some interesting new people that way.
- Support the NRA and other organizations that support your right to own firearms. Really, without constant vigilance, firearms rights can disappear and you won't even know what happened until it is too late.
- Share your knowledge with others. After you have become a skilled and experienced gun owner, don't hesitate to share this information with others (this is what makes me take newbys to the range even if it isn't one of my favorite things to do). The only way to keep gun ownership alive and make it a safe sport for all is to have more experienced gun owners help new gun owners. Often I have found that people who are fairly opposed to gun ownership have never actually been shooting (banning guns sounds so...safe...in theory). Once they get a taste of target shooting, however, they often change their minds.
Wednesday, May 16, 2012
20 Things About Firearms for Noobs
I got an email from some friends in Japan who will coming by to visit in a couple of months. The first thing they want to do? Go shoot a gun. Now ordinarily I would be thrilled to take friends out to the local range and do some plinking (or just show off my arsenal...ahem...collection) but with these friends (actually nephews of a good friend who have never even seen a firearm in person)...not so much. It isn't that I don't like these guys, I just don't like new shooters much. They scare me. No matter if they are from a foreign country that has outlawed firearms for the general public or they are from the good 'ol US of A and have just never been exposed to firearms, there is a lot that new shooters need to know before they ever pick up a firearm (unfortunately it is often the opposite that happens--newbys go shooting with friends and have exactly zero knowledge of firearms and in order to not look bad in front of the guys, they try to bluff their way through the experience. Scary). So here's some stuff for new shooters to consider: