Buying a gun (especially your first one) is definitely a time to celebrate! It's also the time to get started on the path of becoming a safe and responsible gun owner. If you're new to gun ownership, those next steps may not be very clear, so we've put together a list of 5 things you can do after you purchase a firearm that will set you up for success.
Learn the 4 Rules of Gun Safety
When it comes to firearms, there's no such thing as being too safe. There are four common safety rules that every gun owner needs to have memorized to ensure you'll always have fun and stay safe.
These rules apply in every situation - it doesn't matter if you're on the range or in your living room. These rules also hold true whether your gun is loaded or unloaded:
Rule #1 – All guns are always loaded! Treat your firearm the same at all times, as if it actually had ammunition in it.
Rule #2 – Never let the muzzle cover anything which you are not willing to destroy. Sometimes, this rule is explained as always keep the gun pointed in a safe direction.
Rule #3 – Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on target. Any time you are handling your firearm, but not yet ready to shoot your firearm, your index finger should be along the frame of the gun, not inside the trigger guard.
Rule #4 – Be sure of your target and what is beyond it. If you confront a bad guy in your hallway, make sure that your child’s bedroom is not directly in line behind the bad guy. In a self-defense situation in a public area, you have to make sure that an innocent bystander does not happen to be behind your target.
Get to Know Your Gun
Before you head out to the range, take some time to familiarize yourself with all of your firearm's parts, including the magazine release, slide lock lever, and safety (if applicable). Using the 4 safety rules above and with an unloaded gun, work all the controls, rack the slide several times, and insert and release an empty magazine several times.
Make Sure You Have the Right Accessories
Beyond your firearm and some ammo, you're going to need some items that help make shooting fun and safe. Eye and Ear protection is mandatory at nearly every range (and it's best to use both even if it's not) and a range bag or backpack will be necessary for carrying the you'll want to take to the range. If you're planning on carrying your gun in any capacity (open, concealed, or in competition), you'll need a high-quality holster and possibly magazine pouches so you can carry at least one spare.
On a fun note, you can also give your firearm a personal touch by adding accessories that provide some flare or some extra bling!
Practice, Practice, Practice!
First, work on the fundamentals - sight picture, trigger press, and grip are a great place to start. The more you practice, the more fun firearms are to shoot! You don't have to shoot up a bunch of your precious ammo to get the basics down, you can improve your skills at any time with dry fire practice. Make sure to follow the rules above when dry firing and triple check to make sure your gun is unloaded before starting any session.
Consider Carrying Your Gun
Carrying your gun is a big decision that requires some extra preparation and a shift in mindset, so this is a good time to start thinking about what's involved. Do your research on all the local and state laws in your area to make sure you understand the legalities of carrying. There's no pressure to start carrying right away and if you take the time to learn about situational awareness, gun laws, and study real-world self-defense incidents, you'll be in a great position once you decide to start carrying your gun.
Also in Getting Started: Choosing a Gun & Accessories