With all the bad publicity towards firearms in today’s media, it’s more important than ever for our new generations to learn the truth. This truth is that firearms are something to be respected and not feared. This respect for firearms and shooting can be obtained through experience and education. All shooter’s actions are vital to the reputation of gun ownership. This makes proper education and training important to the future of our community.
The first thing that a new shooter should always learn is that safety comes first, even before comfort. It’s important for a shooter to understand how dangerous a firearm can be if used improperly. This can be difficult to express to an inexperienced shooter without instilling fear. That’s why it’s also imperative to make sure they understand that when used properly, firearms can save your life and are more often used for good. With these things in mind, the first four rules any shooter should learn are:
- Always treat a gun as if it’s loaded.
- Never point a gun at anything you aren’t willing to kill or destroy.
- Always keep your finger off the trigger until you’re ready for the shot.
- Know what your target is and what is behind it.
Knowing these four rules will greatly reduce the chance of accident or injury. Also, important to maintaining safety is to make sure your new shooter understands how to properly unload and clear firearms.
When teaching your shooter about firearm safety, you also need to teach them how to properly dress for safety. Proper hearing protection such as earplugs and earmuffs can prevent permanent damage to hearing. A good pair of safety glasses can also be important.
New shooters often will experience minor injuries such as a pinch from the slide, a smack to the eye with the scope or a bruised shoulder. It’s good to explain to your shooter that these things can be avoided with simple adjustments in how they are handling the firearm. One good approach to practicing these techniques is with the use of dummy ammo. Snap Caps are cartridges that can be used to practice loading, chambering, and unloading without the risk of accidental discharge of the firearm.
Once they understand basic safety and handling, it’s best to start them with a small caliber when target practicing. For example, starting your shooter with a .22lr provides them with a low recoil option with cheap ammunition. As they get more comfortable, allow them to try slightly larger caliber weapons, but never push them beyond their comfort level.
Keep in mind when target practicing with a new shooter, that it will initially be very difficult for them. Keep the target large and close to the shooter. This also will help their confidence, which will help avoid mistakes. Safety should always be the number one priority when teaching a new shooter about firearms, however it’s important that they can enjoy shooting and experience a sense of achievement if they are to continue. If they enjoy it enough, they will likely help a future generation learn as well, keeping our gun loving community alive!