by Naomi Moss
“I bought a gun, now what?” Now, you shoot it! It seems like such a simple task, but if you have never gone to a gun range or have never gone alone it can be intimidating. Nervousness, surrounded by gunfire (my face is smiling at the thought), and a gun you are responsible for is enough to keep the average person at home. But you are not average. You are empowered, armed and ready for the range. Here are a few tips for the newbie’s first trip.
Know the four safety rules! 1-All guns are loaded. 2-Don’t point the gun at anything you don’t want to destroy. 3-Keep your finger off the trigger until sights are on the target. 4-Know your target. When in doubt, err on safety.
When you check in to shoot, usually, there will be a first time shooter briefing. They will go over specific range rules. This is a great time to ask questions. Most ranges love new shooters so don’t be afraid to ask questions.
Take the right gear. Proper ear and eye protection are a must! Take the correct ammunition for your gun—wrong ammunition can be dangerous! If the range has restrictions on ammo or gear, be considerate. Having it all in one range bag keeps your gear organized and easy to find. If you forget something important, like eye or ear protection, the range should have some to rent, borrow, or buy.
photo caption for Newbie on the Range:
“Andrea Enokson, age 13, at family-friendly 5 Dogs Shooting Range”.
Make sure the gun stays in the bag UNLOADED until you are in your shooting stall or lane (if indoors) or the designated shooting bench or line (outdoors). People get nervous when they see you walking with a firearm in your hand, especially if it’s through the store or across the parking lot. Transporting firearms unloaded is the law in most states and most ranges have a policy prohibiting loaded firearms outside certain areas. When in doubt, ask.
If at any time you are uncomfortable, you can take a break or step away (maybe put your things away first). If it is just nerves, you can safely watch the other shooters for a while and see how they do things. You may want to watch before you shoot, just to get the feel of how things operate. If another shooter or employee is the cause of your uneasiness due to unsafe gun handling, rudeness or something else, let the Range Safety Officer know immediately. There is no room for anything unsafe at the range. You can even go to the range without a firearm and check it out to make sure they abide by all safety rules and that you feel comfortable there.
Above all, know your gun before you go. Renting an hour at the range and having to take 20 minutes to figure out how to load your gun is a waste of time and money. Be familiar with how your gun operates before going to the range by taking a Basic Pistol class, practice loading and unloading, and dry firing at home.
You are only a newbie once. After that, it gets easier and easier. Go and have fun. You won’t regret it.