It can be a little discouraging to see that shooter putting round after accurate round into their target when you’re just starting out. Don’t be fooled, though, because everyone has to start somewhere.
The truth is that shooting like a pro means learning how to shoot and perfecting the muscle memory, so don’t worry about modified shotguns and .50 pistols just yet. Here are a few things to focus on for the beginner shooter
Handle with Care
It’s good to be confident with your firearm, but humility can save lives. Especially in the beginning, you might not know all of the rules for properly handling your weapon, and that’s okay.
In this case, though, it pays to learn them before you accidentally make a mistake, you can’t take back. You must not aim your gun at anything you don’t want to destroy, or locking up your firearm when not in use can be the difference between life and death.
That’s why one of the most significant recommendations for first-time shooters is to take a class or learn from a trusted friend that knows what they’re doing. It will also help with the next tip.
Becoming familiar with your weapon, or weapons, of choice is an essential early step in your shooting journey. You don’t have to know the difference in weight when there’s one bullet less in your magazine, but a basic understanding of your weapon will help with your experience overall.
Get your palm used to the feel of the grip, the resistance of the slide when you pull it back, or the recoil of your weapon. If your handgun has a hammer, practice cocking it to build the muscle in your thumb.
Of course, do all of these things with an unloaded weapon. That’s why safety was the first point on this list because misfires are one of the leading causes of firearm-related deaths.
One quick note is to find the caliber and weapon that suits you. Just because your friend likes a .45 that he can barely hold doesn’t mean you should go the highest caliber possible.
What matters is to be able to hit what you aim at and be able to replicate it. You want a gun that your wrist can control when it recoils, too.
An excellent way to find out the gun that fits you is to go to a range.
Hit the Range
Many ranges tend to have various weapons on-site that you can rent, sometimes for a deal. You might want to ask to hold a few and rent the promising ones that feel most comfortable.
Pick ones that you can hold out with stability, meaning they don’t sway all over or drag your arm down with their weight. Remember that a fully-loaded magazine will add another pound or two to that weight.
Once you’ve got your options, head to the targets, and follow the safety tips when you load your weapons. Set your target somewhere around 20 or 25 feet if you’re trying to figure out the best choice for you.
If you get a tight grouping (3-5 rounds in a close area) and the weapon feels good in your hand, that’s probably the best one for you. After you’ve decided, then you can start working on your technique and building familiarity.
It can be tempting to show off, but remember that it’s all about accuracy. Most civilians should practice with home defense in mind, which means the situation will be within 20 feet in most cases.
Practice For Consistency
Speaking of accuracy, the final piece of advice is to be consistent. Being able to fire 100 rounds per minute doesn’t mean anything if you can’t hit your target.
Settle on a comfortable stance and relax your posture. If you’re tense, you might jerk your weapon when you shoot.
Squeeze the trigger with the pad of your finger and control your breathing. Use your off-hand to steady the wrist or grip.
Keep both eyes open when you fire and retain the sight picture after you shoot. Again, follow those rules of safety at all times.
The best way to get better is through perfect repetition. You don’t want to build bad muscle memory or get used to bad habits.
Create a routine and practice like it’s the real thing every time. Focus on hitting your target with every shot and adjust when you don’t, but remember to shoot with confidence.
Have fun and be safe when you’re learning how to shoot, and you’ll be able to shoot with accuracy in no time!
Need to find a firing range to shoot at? The NSSF has a wonderful resource at WheretoShoot.org
Richard Douglas is a long-time shooter, outdoor enthusiast, and technologist. He is the founder and editor of Scopes Field, and a columnist at The National Interest, Cheaper Than Dirt, Daily Caller, and other publications.
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