For new gun owners, the sensible next step is to find gun training on the proper use, care, and handling of your firearm. Options for classes can vary by state so be sure to thoroughly investigate what is offered in your area.
Why is Gun Training Important?
Before you begin training to use your gun, it’s important to understand the value of it.
The right to gun ownership comes with responsibility. It’s important to know how to handle your gun and be proficient. The only way you can do this is to learn what you should and should not be doing and then put what you learn into practice. Over time, responsible and safe gun use becomes a habit.
As a new gun owner, there is a lot to learn. Some new gun owners feel overwhelmed. Not only do they need to know what gun laws apply to them – which vary from state to state – but they also need to learn how to use their gun. Most guns operate in the same manner but each has its own nuances. This is one of the reasons it’s so important to practice using your gun and to get used to it once you’ve invested in it. The better you are at using your gun, the better the gun use advocate you’ll be.
Finding a Gun Training Program Right for You
There are a number of different options new gun owners have for finding a good training program.
A good place to start is by speaking with the vendor who sold you the firearm. If you purchased from a local gun shop, big-box retail (Cabela’s, Gander Outdoors, Bass Pro Shops, etc.), or from a gun show – ask questions! It is likely that the vendor knows of local training classes and has first-hand knowledge of which instructors are most reputable. Many shooting ranges that also sell firearms offer classes right onsite. Be sure to inquire about their sales packages if you’re purchasing a firearm from them, which may include a discount or package deal on the training and/or certification for concealed carry licensure (if this is your aim). Many gun ranges will at least offer range time with the purchase of your firearm so be sure to take advantage of this.
On the topic of range time, be sure to factor this into your training budget. Becoming proficient at shooting takes practice. You need to build muscle memory after learning how to properly shoot your gun which means spending regular time on the range. Find a gun range that you are comfortable with that has reasonable prices for hourly range time rentals. It helps if the range sells frangible ammunition (range rounds) and targets. Target ammunition can be found cheap online. If the range also rents out eye and ear protection, this is even better. Or if you want to invest in your own ear protection and eye protection, review our articles. When you’re just starting out as a new shooter, you will inevitably forget to bring something vital needed for practice. A range that has these items on hand for rent or sale can be very convenient in a pinch.
Another option is to talk to your friends and family. Who do you know that owns a gun and frequents the range or hunts? Chances are you know at least one person who is a sport shooter or hunter. Talk to them and find out where they received training. They may be able to recommend a reputable source to provide hunter’s safety classes or concealed carry and gun safety classes.
Contact your local police department or sheriff’s department. They are very familiar with local, state, and federal firearms laws. Law enforcement will also be able to provide you with guidance on the statutory requirements to obtain a concealed carry license in your state. They may not be able to endorse a particular class but they could put you in contact with a reputable gun range.
Classroom vs. Gun Range
New gun owners should expect to participate in both classroom and gun range learning. This means they’ll spend time hearing from experts about gun ownership, gun laws, and gun safety while not actively using their gun. They’ll also need to take their gun to a firing range and practice using it.
For concealed carry training classes, the requirements vary by state. Check the laws in your state to ensure that the class you are thinking about taking meets the requirements. A good source of information on finding training in your state is the National Rifle Association (NRA). Use the search function at their website to find local opportunities. You can sort by type of firearm, type of class, in person, or distance learning. Just scroll to the bottom of the page and enter your zip code.
Keep in mind, you are responsible for knowing the laws in your state and in any state to which you travel. If you are taking your gun with you when crossing state lines, you need to know what laws affect you.
Does Gun Training Ever End?
At some point, you’ll feel proficient using your gun and be confident in your understanding of gun safety and gun laws. But practice makes perfect, here are some great drills for defensive training.
This doesn’t mean you should stop practicing or learning about gun issues.
The most responsible gun owners make a point of taking their guns to the firing range on a regular basis to practice. It’s important to establish safe habits when it comes to using your gun. Once these habits are established, it’s important to keep your skills sharp. Remember, even expert marksman continue to practice after they’ve reached the level they work at. Law enforcement regularly practices and is tested concerning the safe and efficient use of their service weapons. There is no reason why you shouldn’t be practicing and honing your skills as well.
You might also consider helping others learn once your gun training days are behind you. Sharing your knowledge of safe gun use and teaching others to safely use firearms is a great way to get more people involved in responsible gun ownership and help them exercise their Second Amendment rights.