Tips for New Gun Owners From the Experts—You

By Dave Dolbee published on in How To

Go to any shooting range across this great nation and you will find two types of shooters—new and experts. While that is said with a tongue-and-cheek tone, it rings true. To a degree, we are all learning, and we all have something to share. Here is your chance to show your expertise and pass along your top tips.

Woman shooting handgun with instructor

Competent instructors are worth their weight in gold.

Just to get the list started, here are a few dos and don’ts.

  • Get some professional training. The NRA has nearly 100,000 instructors around the country. Use this link to choose a course and find a local instructor.
  • Cheap holsters
  • Don’t wear any pair of glasses or sunglasses, wear shooting glasses.
  • No loose fitting clothing.

Share your tips in the comment section.

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Comments (15)

  • Michael Monahan

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    Before you buy a handgun, go to a range that rents them. Be sure you have a COMPETENT instructor with you. Try a number of weapons until you find one that is comfortable and fits YOU, not anyone else. Buy that one.

    Reply

  • TS B.

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    I wear whatever I would be wearing while out in public while at the range. That includes my sunglasses or … sometimes no glasses. For the reason that if something happens I want to know what it’s like to shoot with my sunglasses on or my heavy coat. I practice with both left hand and right hand and obviously both hands. I rack the slide with both left and right hands as well. Practice as if you aren’t in the comfort of your friendly shooting range.

    Reply

  • cautious1

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    On the holster front, IWB are not for everyone & I avoid most of the time.
    Secondly, I have been very happy with the work from JustHolsterIt: both a standard OWB & Custom one are great! FYI: one of the few makers that will make holsters for nearly all laser and light accessories.
    I have one of the 1st SuperTucks from CrossBreed & it is very well made, but virtually impossible for me to use unless I am going to remain standing the entire time.

    Reply

  • USGunner

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    When unloading a rifle/shotgun, make sure all rounds are out of the chamber and then slowly move the bolt forward as you hold back the trigger. That will ensure that your fireing pin is forward and not under tension. It will prevent dry fires as well as longer fireing pin spring life.

    Reply

  • fitzpatrick,d.

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    Practice your dry firing with A-Zoom brand “snap-caps” to protect your slide and firing pin on a semi-auto pistol. DO NOT dry fire any type of rim fire style firearm. Not if you want to keep the firing pin and rear of the chamber in good condition. Working on sight picture, sight alignment, breath control, correct placement of finger pad on trigger, and SLOW trigger “squeeze”, all of which are the basics, or foundation of shooting. Always make multiple checks of your firearm to insure it is not loaded. And remove any and all “live” ammo from your dry fire practice area.
    Find an instructor/range where different ways to practice are allowed. Don’t work on just “punching holes” in a piece of paper. How many of you have ever been taught to draw and make shots on your threat when laying on the ground on your back, your weak side, or strong side?
    Did your instructor cover any weapons retention drills, or demos of such with students? Were you gentlemen instructed in where to carry your knife? Do you carry a knife? Ladies, did your instructor explain and have demos of off body carry options? Have any worked on shooting in the dark, without using any types of artificial lighting?
    Wow!! Lots of things to think about when carrying a firearm for protection.
    One other thing is to stay with the same brand of firearms. Just because one type may be a semi-automatic, does not mean that every semi-automatic operates the same way. When the poo hits the fan, and you may be required to defend yourself muscle memory will take over. Do not confuse the little guy, whom has learned it one way in your head controlling that muscle memory by switching operating controls when using different brands. That could be something else many have never thought about before. Semper Fi. OUT!!!!!

    Reply

  • Retired Navy Spook

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    I carry a Sig P938 in a nylon pocket holster. I’ve tried two different methods of drawing it, leaving the holster in my pocket by pinning the bottom of it with my left hand, and drawing gun and holster, pulling the holster off with my left hand as I disengage the safety. The latter method seems to work best for me.

    I have access to a cousin’s private outdoor range about 5 minutes from my house, so I’m able to do different types of training that you simply couldn’t do at most commercial indoor ranges. One of my favorite drills is to start about 5 feet from a silhouette target, draw and fire the first round or two from the waist at the center of the target, continue with aimed fire at center mass while stepping backwards with the last round of two head shots from around 7 yards. My goal is to get the first shot off in under two seconds. As Adam notes, reloads should be part of any training regimen. I’m not sure how you practice clearing malfunctions unless you have a gun that jams a lot.

    Reply

  • Edward Gottlieb

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    I have 40 years of teaching pistol craft as a martial art plus great military experience. If your a concealed carry holder, Find a qualified instructor who can teach you how to fight. Not shoot, fight. Your handgun is one part of a system of skill sets necessary for self defense. Your instructor should be working from a gun range that is safe, but allows drawing from concealment and shooting while moving. The instructor should also open your thought to alternative skill sets besides the gun.

    Reply

  • Greg

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    Watch your ejected brass when at the range and respect your fellow shooter. Brass is hot and a spent round on the back of the heck will leave a burn mark.. Help the newbies, and be friendly, we’re all friends because we like the same sport… Oh and take a minute to watch other shooters on the line, you never know what bad habits people will bring to the range that will ruin your day.. One more thing.. Have Fun!,

    Reply

    • Ross

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      Ejected brass is something that occurs at a range. If someone is that much of a wuss and that concerned that a an ejected casing might hit them, they need to stay home.

      Reply

    • Ken

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      Greg (above) had a good point. He stated it is wise to watch where brass lands. It’s hot, it can surprise a new shooter, it makes for poor footing… many reasons to note. And he suggests helping and being friendly to new shooters as it will help increase the sport. But I think his other item to notice is STRONGLY evidenced by contributor Ross. That would be the bad habits brought to the range bit! On Christmas Day Ross is calling fellow shooters “wuss’s” and telling them to stay home from the range. Now THAT is the kind of shooter that is NEVER any fun to be next to at the range!

      Reply

    • Greg

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      No Ross, the 22’s you shoot aren’t a problem, something more along the lines of what a Barratt ejects like a .338 of a 50 cal. You ever have a 50 cal casing land on you? Oh yeah, I wouldn’t want you near me either at the range if your demeanor is calling first time shooters wusses. KMA265

      Reply

  • Adam

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    Don’t just practice putting holes in targets on a firing line.

    Practice reloads, clearing malfunctions, and especially drawing the gun from the holster you plan to wear regularly. A smooth, practiced draw is the biggest factor in getting that crucial first shot off quickly in a defensive situation.

    Reply

  • Deplorable Robert

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    Cheap holsters….. That’s a ” don’t ” right?.from your “Dos and Don’ts” section?
    I’ve only purchased one holster in ten years of Concealed Carry. I hear stories where folks buy five or more before they find the right one.
    I had taken the advice when I took my safety course at the armory, to buy a Galco leather IWB for my Glock. So comfortable, and still looks new,and still retains my weapon enough that I’m not worried when. I ride my Harley.
    Anyways….thanks for your wonderful articles😎

    Reply

    • H

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      DR, which Galco leather holster did you buy for which Glock bullet launcher?
      I’ve owned several Galco holsters over the years but usually made them part of a package deal whenever I’ve sold a particular gun.
      That said I haven’t yet bought an IWB leather holster for any of my Glock guns and am now in the market for several model guns.
      I’d appreciate your input. Thanks.

      Reply

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