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New Gun, Now What: 4 Key Points to Know


by: Natchez Shooting Supplies

More people own guns now than ever before, but there are things that anyone new to gun ownership should know. Whether it’s something as basic as gun safety and shooting tips to cleaning your firearm and essential accessories, you’ve come to the right place to get started!

Safety is Key

Many gun-related accidents are due to improper handling or a misunderstanding of firearm safety, so this is the first thing you should ever know when owning a gun. However, gun safety isn’t just for you but for those around you as firearms can quickly end a life.

The most important lesson is that guns aren’t toys, which is often overlooked. Guns are weapons of devastation and should be treated accordingly. That means keeping them holstered until you’re ready to shoot and make sure it’s at something you’re willing to lose. That said, there are four firearm safety rules:

  1. All guns are always loaded.
  2. Keep your gun pointed in a safe direction.
  3. Keep your finger off the trigger until you’re ready to shoot.
  4. Be sure of your target and what is beyond it.

Let me explain each one.

Whether you’re about to clean the gun, getting ready for the range, or going through your closet, assume that every firearm has a round in the chamber. If this is your first gun, understand that a magazine can be empty, and the gun can still be loaded.

The latter is why you should always aim down and away from anyone else until you’ve been able to confirm your gun isn’t loaded. Even then, it’s a good habit to just keep with these rules as well as keeping your finger away from the trigger.

Guns are just machines without the trigger pulled, so your finger is the single greatest safety. Even if you have the safety feature on, the trigger guard is there for you to rest your finger on unless you’re ready to shoot.

Lastly, always know your surroundings if you have your firearm on you. Bullets travel with such a velocity that they can penetrate a target, meaning that your bullet may pass through anything or anyone. Most ranges will have sandbags, sand, or dirt behind the targets for just that reason.

Shooting 101

Aside from knowing what’s behind your target and keeping your finger off the trigger, there are some basic tips for anyone new to shooting. If this is your first gun, it’s a safe assumption that you might not have experience behind the gun.

The best way to get better with your new firearm is to familiarize yourself with the weapon. That means spending time at the range consistently because it’s not like “riding a bike.” No champion shooter started that way, but practice doesn’t make perfect.

What does work is perfect practice, which is to say being able to consistently hit where you aim within a tight picture. In order to do that, it depends on whether you’re using iron sights or a scope of some kind.

With iron sights, line up the rear sights closest to you with the point at the end of the barrel and gently press the trigger. If you squeeze or pull the trigger, you’re likely to jerk your aim at the last second which is all it could take to throw off your aim.

Shooting with a scope is different because you’re not lining it up with the barrel. Scopes have a reticle of some kind, whether it’s a dot or LED shape in the center or a crosshair with lines going out that might have smaller notches. Those are either going to be MIL or MOA.

To learn more about that, there are some great tutorials on Youtube but the basics of shooting with a scope are to fire three test rounds and adjust your scope and aim. If you hit to the left of the target by an inch, click your scope one to the right if it’s in inches.

Also, for long-range shots, you’ll need to master your breathing and heart rate. Exhaling a few seconds before a shot can slow your heart rate, which affects the vein in the meat of your shoulder where the buttstock should rest.

Remember, when you make the scope adjustments, aim away from anyone nearby. That’s an easy way to get banned from a range and it’s easily avoidable, not to mention it could incite a reaction from someone deeming it as a hostile gesture.

Cleaning Your Gun

You don’t need to do it every time you use your weapon, but whether you’ve just gone to the range or returned from a hunting trip you’ll need to know how to properly clean your firearm. The first thing you’ll need is a gun cleaning kit.

Unless you need a cleaning kit that’s specifically for your weapon or caliber, a universal kit like the one linked should do the trick. That’s because most firearms follow a basic set of instructions that you can generally apply.

  1. The first thing you should always do, and this can’t be stressed enough, is to make sure your gun isn’t loaded. Eject the magazine and check the chamber to visually confirm it’s empty. If you can’t remember if you checked, check it again.
  2. With the slide locked back, run a bore brush from the chamber to the muzzle and pull it out. This will loosen up any built-up metal or other material.
  3. Locate a cleaning patch, which will look like a small bandage for firearms, in your kit. Dip that in the cleaning solution provided and place the patch on the end of a cleaning rod.
  4. Do the same thing with the rod that you did with the bore brush, running it from the chamber to the muzzle.
  5. Once that’s had time to soak into the bore, which usually takes around 10 minutes, run the bore brush back through.
  6. Wrap the end of your cleaning rod with a clean patch and push it through the bore until it comes out clean.
  7. Gun oil should only be used for whatever pieces of your gun move, like the action. Don’t forget to clean the magazine and spring. Where to use gun oil and magazine aren’t universal, so follow your gun’s manual, but be careful about too much oil.
  8. Put your gun back together, making sure that the slide and trigger are where they need to be. Remember: Your gun is a machine and machines need everything in a specific place to function.
  9. Wipe off your gun with a cloth and let the slide go. Knowing your gun isn’t loaded, try dry-firing the weapon to make sure you put it back together right. Basically, that means cocking it and pulling the trigger without a bullet.
  10. Lock your weapon away until you’re ready to bring it out again. Keep in mind that you might need to clean your weapon again before using it if you don’t shoot it for a long period of time.

Be Resourceful

There are a number of gun-related resources that any beginner should be aware of, whether you use them or not. The first, and most important one, is where to buy ammunition because you can’t use a gun without bullets.

Avoid overpaying for ammo at the range by buying it from Natchez before you go. You might also want to buy an extra magazine or holster.

Accessories can be a shooter’s best friend, from a gun lock or safe to scopes or even a suppressor for the quiet types.

One of the best resources for a new shooter can be a range membership. Experience really is everything when it comes to being a better shooter and the more familiar you get with your gun, learning the weight and recoil or how to clean it quicker, the better you’ll become.

Having a range membership will also introduce you to other shooters who might be able to help you, though never feel like you need to compete or rush. Experience isn’t learned overnight. If you want to take it one step further, though, you can take a class or get a license to carry.

Either one can provide you with knowledge on gun laws in your area, your rights as a gun owner, or potential legal scenarios you might encounter. These can all prove invaluable, even if you live in a state that allows open carry for everyone.

Whatever you choose to do, find a routine that works for you and stick with it. Whether it’s for protection or you’re going into law enforcement in the future, always follow the rules of gun safety and treat your firearm with respect. Good luck at the range!


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