Homies, I’d like to learn to shoot stuff. Targets, mostly. Maybe with guns, maybe with arrows — honestly, I’m flexible, and I don’t have any solid goals for these skills — it just looks like fun and seems like a good thing to know how to do (in case, you know, zombies). But I have no idea where to start.
I don’t know anyone who shoots anything with anything (besides cameras) and I’m super intimidated by the idea of wandering into a shooting range knowing absolutely NOTHING.
Do I need to buy anything upfront? How do I pick a weapon? Or find a woman-friendly shooting range? (A lot of the ones around here are hunter-centric, and hunters can be kind of a boys club.) Are some weapons better for chicks with no upper body strength?
Basically I’m as clueless as can be and would love some total n00b advice on learning how to shoot things. –Alex
I began shooting as a n00b about five years ago, with no more shooting experience than a fun childhood gym class or two with archery and foam targets. Now I shoot NSCA competitive sporting clays, own a shotgun, own and carry a handgun, have taken hunter safety courses, have guest blogged for Beretta USA, and am an NRA member.
Here’s what works for me…
The fastest and easiest way to get into the sport is to call or go to a local Skeet and Sporting Clays Range, or Firearms Range and speak with the staff there on available training and/or classes, or when someone there can help walk you through trying out one or two guns. More on that below.
First things first:
As soon as you hold a gun or before handing it to someone else, check if it’s loaded, including opening it to check the chamber (not just the magazine). Always. Learning that, and these other Basic Firearm Safety Rules, will give you more confidence.
If you can, take a firearms safety class at a range near you, great, but it’s not a legal prerequisite. Gun clubs, hunt clubs, and ranges LOVE women shooters. I’ve never felt unwelcome walking into a gun range. Everyone wants to help you (okay, sometimes that’s annoying) and everyone is glad to see you, especially if you’re determined to learn, and you’re concerned with being safe.
What to Buy:
- “Eyes and ears” (glasses and earplugs or over-the-ear headphone-looking earplugs). They are cheap and you’ll use them every time you shoot.
- Look for a range that loans or rents guns.
- If you plan to shoot long guns, see about borrowing or renting a padded shooting vest from the club, as these are pricey.
Long Gun Ranges:
If you can, begin with “long guns,” meaning shotguns, and try out a round or two of Skeet or Sporting clays (It’s like Disc Golf only with guns). In my opinion, they are much tougher to be careless with than handguns and the ranges are “safer”: there are loading limits (1-2 rounds at a time), there’s only one general type of gun, and since it’s a dedicated sport there aren’t a lot of n00bs. Once you get used to shooting a gun, moving on to handguns is easier, and if you plan to hunt birds, sporting clays is good practice.
The con is that it’s pricey and it will make you sore and they are heavy, but if you do it often you will build up the strength. .20 gauge is fun and what I started with, before I moved on to .12 gauge.
Sadly these are where I’ve seen “I can’t believe that idiot just did that” moments. Just be hyper-aware and don’t be afraid to report anything stupid you see happening. I prefer outdoor ranges than indoor, as they are quieter and less claustrophobic.
Get a range master to show you the basics of loading and unloading, and only load one round at a time until you get the feel of the weapon and can load and unload (and check to see if it’s unloaded) practically in your sleep.
A .22 is an easy gun to shoot and is a good way to get used to handling a handgun. I tried a .22 and a .38 before I settled on a nice .9mm. (If you find it’s hard to open the slide with upper body strength, try pushing and pulling with your shoulders.) Not to be controversial, but if you have access to an AR, they are very easy to shoot. It’s like a cross between a shotgun and handgun. I don’t prefer them but they are easy. Steer clear of anything larger than 9mm as you start out, or any “subcompact” guns, as they are tougher to hang onto.
Every law-abiding gun owner I’ve ever met has been nice, even-tempered and MORE than willing to educate about shooting, safety, and weapons. Just like any other hobby or trade, the interwebs is filled with info on programs and classes and other good stuff, from firearm basics to self-defense, carrying, and hunting.
I found this Offbeat Home thread to be hands down one of the best threads I’ve ever read on gun ownership — both pro and con thoughts expressed. Kudos as always to the Homies! It’s definitely worth a read.
I am always open to answering any questions, as well.