So you’re getting ready to buy your first firearm. We have already talked about evaluating your primary reason for purchasing a firearm, now let's move on to the most important part of gun ownership: TRAINING. The next question you should be asking yourself is “What type of training do I already have?”, if the answer to that is none, then you must ask yourself “What type of training do I need?”
Home & Personal Protection:
If you are purchasing a gun to protect yourself and your home the NRA offers both Home Firearms Safety Courses and Personal Protection Courses. The Home Firearms Safety Course teaches you to “...take charge of your family’s safety and get the basic knowledge and skills to safely handle or store firearms and ammunition in the home.” If you want to take it a step further and focus on personal protection AND home protection you can “...learn how to protect yourself and your family both in and out of your home” by completing the NRA Personal Protection Course. There are also many courses available at your local gun shops and shooting ranges. Whether you choose NRA sponsored or not, your local shop is a great resource for referral to regional training options and opportunities.
If you are planning on taking up hunting as a hobby (or as a supplemental necessity) you will want to get two types of training. The first is going to be the training necessary to properly operate and utilize the firearm you have chosen. If you are planning on hunting foul like turkeys, duck, goose, or pheasant you will be using a shotgun and the NRA does offer multiple courses including FIRST Steps Shotgun Orientation and a Basic Shotgun Shooting Course. If you are planning on big game or using a rifle there are many choices for you too. Classes like FIRST Steps Rifle Orientation or their Basic Rifle Shooting Course will help you build a foundation of knowledge that will serve you on all of your hunting excursions. No matter what you are hunting you will also need to participate in a State Department of Game & Fish Hunter Safety Education Course. These are usually required to obtain a hunting license and offer some really good information in a condensed format for convenience. To find your State Department of Game & Fish go to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service website.
Depending on what type of shooting you are doing for fun or sport, you could take any of the NRA courses listed above and/or take one of the NRA’s Pistol Courses. Courses such as Basics of Pistol Shooting, Pistol Marksman Simulator Training, or even their Basic Muzzleloading Shooting Course will help get you familiar with your pistol (or muzzleloader - as the case may be) and feel confident and safe as you being participating in the shooting sports. Again, your desired hobby/shooting sport will most definitely help you determine which class/es are right for you and your goals and desired outcomes, but have a look at what the NRA has to offer in terms of training and see what might peak your interest.
As was stated earlier, and cannot be stressed enough, ALL training is GOOD training! Anything you can do to familiarize yourself with the firearm you will be using will make you a more efficient shooter and a more responsible gun owner. Don’t ever underestimate the value of the manual that comes with your firearm, it provides you with the most specific information available regarding your specific gun, you should read and re-read it as necessary. Also, make sure you visit your favorite local gun shop and shooting range frequently as they are a first-line resource for education and training. New classes and trainings start all the time and, once you become comfortable with your initial choice of firearm, you may want to expand your knowledge base, skills, and abilities.
I said it before and I will say it again (and again, and again) the most important thing for you to remember is that a firearm is a tool that requires respect and proper training. Unless you are the only person in your home training will need to be extended to your spouse, children, or any other individual living with you who may have access to your new firearm. In our next blog we will discuss this further by looking at Question #3: Why do the other individuals living in my home need training? Stay tuned!
When participating in any type of shooting sports always remember the acronym T.A.S.K.:
A: Attention to your Surroundings
S: Safety First
K: Know your Target