When someone wants to get into firearms at the local range, there is usually quite a bit of anxiety about going for the first time. Just like with all new endeavors and hobbies, the person taking it on is inexperienced and ignorant to certain aspects and intricacies of the hobby. The only thing that sets shooting apart from other hobbies is the potential for death is much higher than things like sewing. If you’re new to the sport and are planning your first range visit, heed these newb range tips.
1. Gun Safety – This cannot be overstated enough and there is a reason it’s the number one tip. I always suggest first and foremost that during your first range visit you should go with an experienced shooter you trust. A couple of quick pointers; your finger should NEVER be on the trigger unless you are pointed down range ready to engage your target. Whenever you pick up or are handed a firearm, always assume the gun is loaded. Don’t forget proper ear and eye protection are a must.
2. Ask Questions – You are not an expert, so don’t act like one. Other hobbies you may be able to act as if, but when firearms are concerned acting as if may get you killed or even worse, get someone else killed just because you didn’t want to look “New”. Just be careful who you ask advice from because as I’ve seen plenty shooting range vets that don’t practice good shooting safety and technique.
3. Start Small - I always like to err on the side of smaller caliber before going bigger. If possible, shooting a .22 handgun and rifle would be ideal so you can learn the proper technique with a smaller caliber firearm.
4. Proper Technique – It’s probably easier for me to tell you what not to do than what to do. Do not hold the bottom of the handgun with the palm of your other hand like in the movies. Do not cross your thumbs over the back of the firearm. Do not shoot with one hand. But what you can do is youtube how to fire a gun and digest some instructional videos from top-level competitive shooters and teachers. I think this would be a great idea before your first day at the range.
5. Don’t Care What People Think – It’s understandable to feel some apprehension your first day at the range. Most people probably won’t know you’re new or even care. But there are some range vets who like the flex their knowledge and expertise on anyone in close proximity. I always think the best practice is to just be polite and if they want to judge you negatively because you're new, then F*CK them.
These 5 simple tips should give you something to think about and are a good jumping off point before going to the range for your first time. The most important point (after safety) is just having fun. You’re new, so just soak it all in and remember frequency is the key to getting good at anything.
What is one piece of advice you’d give to someone before their first day on the range?