Gun Training for Beginners – How To Get Started!

I train beginners of all ages: some who just turned twenty-one and others who are in their seventies. Regardless of age or situation, getting started can be an overwhelming process and many get so intimidated that they quickly dismiss the idea of owning a firearm altogether.

Thankfully, you have me to help you! I promise that with the right gun, the proper training and dedicated practice, you’ll look back and wonder why you didn’t get started sooner.

So let’s get started:

First off, if you don’t own a gun, do not go out and buy one. Regardless of what gun shops say, perhaps even other instructors or your loved ones, you should not purchase a firearm first. Even the less expensive, bad quality firearms are a few hundred dollars. You don’t want to invest in junk, something that will not serve your purpose or fit your body. Instead, sign up for a basic pistol class first. Any quality firearm instructor will understand your situation and will not mandate that you have a firearm before taking the class. Many instructors will allow you to borrow/rent one of theirs or some ranges rent firearms for a small charge.

When choosing a company or instructor, make sure the firearm instructor is NRA certified. There are also numerous NRA credentials an instructor can obtain, such as; NRA Basic Pistol, Rifle, Shotgun, Muzzle Loading, Range Safety Officer, Home Firearm Safety, Personal Protection Inside The Home, Personal Protection Outside The Home, Refuse To Be a Victim, and so on. The more credentials the instructor has, usually the better. In addition, research the company or instructor for customer reviews. Classes can be costly, so be sure that you’re not wasting your time or money. Lastly, you could go as far as calling the instructor to talk to them on the phone briefly to ensure they seem approachable and easy to work with. Chemistry and comfort could make all the difference when learning a skill that is so intimidating to begin with.

Aside from the company or instructor, check out the class descriptions to make sure the class covers all of the basics. A basic pistol class should include topics such as; pistol safety, internal mechanisms and types of actions, how semi-automatic pistols and revolvers operate, ammunition, shooting fundamentals, how to clean and maintain a firearm, and of course, live fire at a gun range. All of these important topics will help you narrow down what type of gun would be most suitable. Additionally, at some point the instructor should make it clear that when choosing a firearm, it’s important to ask yourself what this gun will primarily be used for. Are you looking to develop a new hobby so that you can target practice at the range and/or eventually participate in competitions? Do you want a firearm for self-protection? If so, will this gun be concealed or will is stay in your home? These questions are important, because it will determine the size of the firearm, barrel length, caliber, and perhaps the safety mechanisms. Once you’ve determined what the firearm will be used for, go to a large gun store or gun show and look at guns: pick them up, see how they feel in your hand, ask questions, and take note of your favorite guns. Do not purchase a gun on the spot, regardless of what the salesmen tells you. Then, go home and research the makes and models of the firearms you liked. When researching, make sure to include not only the make of the gun, but also the model as well. Some manufactures have great reputations, but a few of the models they make might not be rated well. Find out if that firearm is reliable, good with multiple brands of ammunition, and if there’s a positive consensus among the general pubic.

After narrowing that list down, ask your friends if they or someone they know has that firearm. Perhaps even research gun ranges nearby to see if they rent out firearms or contact your instructor to see if they have the firearms you’d like to shoot. If you can’t test fire the firearm before purchasing it, but the reviews are good, it feels comfortable in your hand, it’s the proper caliber, and ideal for what you’d like to do with it, you might have to take the leap of faith and purchase the firearm.

Next- range time! This might seem like the most intimidating part, but hopefully you’ve read over your class material and you’re with someone that you trust, such as your instructor or someone who has firearm experience to ease your anxiety.  When firing a gun for the first time, do not concern yourself with hitting the target. At first, get comfortable with how the firearm operates: the recoil, trigger pull, proper grip, sight alignment, breathing, and stance. You’ll want to keep going over these fundamentals so that you’ll develop the habit of consistency and eventually over time you’ll shoot properly without having to think about everything you’re doing.

After range time, invest $15 to buy snap caps. Snap caps are dummy cartridges that look like ammunition, but they’re usually plastic, commonly red or blue, and will not propel or fire from your gun. These dummy rounds will allow you to practice the common functions of your firearm, such as loading the magazine, loading your firearm with or without the slide locked back initially, properly unload your firearm, and how to clear common pistol stoppages. The key is to do everything slowly and properly, and then eventually pick up speed. (Make sure there is absolutely no live ammunition nearby or most importantly in your firearm or magazine.) This will allow you to learn and develop that muscle memory to operate your firearm. Do not get discouraged if you have difficulty racking the slide back and forth, properly releasing the magazine, or loading the firearm. All firearms that are brand new will be more difficult to operate, but over time, after firing about 500 rounds through your firearm, everything should begin to ease up. Lastly, watch YouTube videos about your firearm. This will help walk you through how to properly clean the firearm, common dry fire drills, and so forth. Best of all, you can do this from the comfort of your home in pjs!

In closing, if all else fails, and you still feel uncomfortable using your firearm, contact your firearms instructor for more help. Many instructors, such as myself, will usually lend a helping hand free of charge.

Once you become more familiar with your firearm, visit the range often (at least once a month). The term, if you don’t use it, you lose it, becomes quite apparent when using a firearm…trust me, I’m guilty of this as well. If it becomes difficult to fit range time into your schedule, research dry-fire drills online, or purchase a laser gun and target. This isn’t the same as live fire practice, but any practice is better than none. You might also want to join a gun club or bring a friend along to the range so that is doesn’t seem like such a chore.

No matter what, do not get discouraged or give up. There are many people in the industry willing to help, and understand your life could depend on this. Also, as always, I’m always here! 🙂