Whether it’s out of fear or uncertainty, the coronavirus pandemic is having an unexpected effect: more people are buying guns. According to the New York Times, nearly 2 million Americans purchased guns in March 2020 alone. That figure is one of the highest since the FBI began keeping records on gun purchases over 20 years ago.
Similarly, visits to gun ranges have seen a significant increase. More people are inquiring about safe gun use and weapon handling. If you’re also considering joining a shooting range or gun club, here are some things you should know:
Don’t Be Intimidated
As a first-timer, especially one without experience, you’re likely to harbor fears about visiting a shooting range. But this shouldn’t be the case. These facilities exist to train and equip people with requisite gun skills.
Even if you don’t have the slightest idea about using guns, range attendants can help you each step of the way. For moral support, you can go with a friend who has experience in gun use or has been to a shooting range before. Their presence and insights can help settle your nerves.
What is Your Purpose?
From target/sport shooting to self-defense, there are various reasons people purchase guns. The type of weapon you possess and the reason for buying it would determine which shooting range fits best. Some are exclusively indoor, while others have outdoor ranges. For instance, if you intend to go hunting, an exclusively indoor range may not serve you well.
If you’re a military or law enforcement officer looking to polish your skills, choose a shooting range that offers specialized training. Read more about the various services a gun range can offer.
Not every attire is right for shooting practice. Heavy clothing will weigh you down while V-neck shirts can compromise your safety. It’s best to contact the shooting range in advance and find out what clothing they accept. But to give you a headstart, here are a few of the generally accepted ones:
- Baseball caps
- Sturdy shoes (You can’t go wrong with closed-toe shoes)
- Short sleeves or long sleeves shirt
- Shooting Glasses
- Earplugs/ Earmuffs
Make Sure You’re in the Right Frame of Mind
Shooting is a mental activity. It requires intense focus and discipline, and it affects your body and brain. For example, shooting a gun can cause your heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing to surge momentarily.
That’s why you should never go shooting when your mind and body are not in the best shape. Wait until you’re in the right frame of mind. And when you’re ready to go, eat well and ensure you are well-hydrated for the training. Avoid alcohol or any prescription drugs that can interfere with your focus. You’ll get better results that way.
Follow Safety Protocols
Every gun range has a set of safety protocols that must be strictly observed. Some of these protocols are:
- Keep your gun unloaded and pointing downwards always.
- Always keep your finger off the trigger unless you’re ready to shoot.
- Use the right ammunition
- Wear protective gear
- Stay in your firing lane
Usually, you’d be assigned supervisory personnel known as Range Officers or Range Safety Officers. They would brief you on what the safety protocols are. Listen to them and follow their instructions to the letter.
A good gun range will have attendants or Range Officers available to answer all your questions. If you have doubts or any instruction is unclear, don’t hesitate to seek clarity. It would save you from costly and unnecessary mistakes.
If you follow the above-listed steps, your first experience in a shooting range is highly likely to be a pleasant and fulfilling one.