Advice for the new shooter

I’d like to offer some advice for the new shooter. Learning to shoot a gun is an overwhelming task and there are quite a few issues that need to be covered. But it’s very easy to completely overwhelm a new person. The issues that always come up are Conceal Carry, holsters, ammunition, fundamentals, gear, and the elephant in the room, fear of the gun.

Most people come through my academy wanting to learn to use a gun for self-defense and to eventually conceal carry. Getting a concealed handgun license in Texas is a whole process in and of itself. So many times people have just bought a gun and bring it to the handgun license class without ever having used it, or haven’t used it in a LONG time. The handgun license class has a shooting proficiency portion so the expectation is that a student shows up already having some basic skills and knowing basic range safety. My advice to new shooters on this topic is to take at LEAST one private lesson prior to the class to make sure they have the fundamentals and safety knowledge to pass and be safe on any range after they have completed the course.

Holsters are another confusing topic. Why? Because of the myriad options available. On body carry, off body carry, inside the waistband, outside the waistband, drop offset holster, kydex, leather, enigma, metal clip vs. plastic, fbi cant, etc. And the prices of holsters really get people’s attention! My advice to new shooters is this: you need an OWB kydex for training and a separate one for conceal carry. I recommend kydex for conceal carry as well. Expect to pay at least $75 for a holster made for your specific gun. This is not the place to cheap out. A good holster holds up and it’s imperative that it fit your handgun properly. No universal holster to fit all 5 of your guns! What will happen is that it fits none of them exactly right creating a potentially dangerous on-body situation. So, at least $75 and you need 2 different ones. Please wrap your mind around that and just do it. Buying quality means you only buy once, cry once.

Ammunition is very confusing for new shooters because some calibers such as 9mm have several different names like, 9mm parabellum, 9×19, luger and 9mm. In this case they are all the same caliber. However, in .45 things can get confusing! There is .45acp, .45 GAP, 45 magnum, and 45 colt. These are not the same calibers. My advice to new shooters is to understand exactly what your gun caliber is and pay attention when purchasing ammunition to make sure they match up. If not sure, ask anyone at the sales counter or a trusted friend in the community.

Shooting fundamentals is where my new shooters get really frustrated. When shots don’t go exactly where they want, often new people get discouraged and realize how much training they actually need to shoot really well. They see an insurmountable mountain. They think they should be near perfect and every bullet should go through the same hole. The reality is that it takes some time to really build those fundamentals to the point where they become effortless. And, the other issue is newbies think they should start working on intermediate skills way beyond what their level is. It’s fun to try and reach new goals and that is always encouraged. But, what I tell them is new shooters want to work on intermediate skills, intermediate shooters want to work on advanced skills and advanced shooters want to work on basics. That always surprises them but it helps put it into perspective that working on the basics is something that NEVER ends. My advice to the new shooter is: be patient with yourself, seek out competent instruction from a certified firearms instructor, practice regularly, take training courses, learn new things such as competition. It all layers one on top of the other and really makes those fundamentals gel and become automatic.

New shooters have so many questions about gear!!! I used to wonder why until I picked up a gun magazine. There is so much gear shown, talked about and pushed in these publications. A widget for every possibility. And in some cases, an item looking for a use. My advice to the new shooter is: keep your range bag simple. Your pistol (in a pouch), holster, quality GUN belt, quality hearing protection, a cap, a re-loader, ammunition and magazines.

And the last piece of advice for new shooters? To get over the fear of your pistol, you must take training and practice regularly. With practice and training comes competence. With competence comes confidence which makes the fear vanish. We all however, never lose the respect for guns and what they can do.

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