Getting Started In Shooting


A major component of modern survivalism and most preppers’ survival philosophy includes owning firearms. The practice of having firearms can aid in personal defense and the defense of loved ones and property, and offers the ability to hunt for food. What can be difficult, though, is getting a start in shooting when you were not raised in an environment where firearms and the shooting sports were a part of life. Guns can be intimidating and, therefore, often cause apprehension and sometimes outright discomfort when considering the option of taking the first step toward getting started in shooting. Consider these questions when getting started in shooting.

Which Gun Is Right?

Choosing the right gun should be based on the intended use, whether it be personal defense, hunting, home defense or target shooting. Handguns are well suited for personal defense; shotguns can be used for personal defense, home defense or hunting; rifles are ideal for hunting; and any of them can be a whole lot of fun for target shooting.

Handguns (semi-automatics and revolvers): Both revolvers and semi-automatic handguns are manufactured in a wide variety of sizes and calibers. While smaller guns are easier to conceal, larger-framed guns tend to be more accurate. Some prefer semi-automatics because of their increased capacity in the number of rounds that they can hold where others prefer revolvers for their simpler design. There are many calibers of handgun cartridges, but perhaps the cheapest and best round to train with is the 9mm Luger. This round will work only if your handgun of choice is a semi-automatic. If choosing a revolver, the .38 Special is a good round to choose for its affordability compared to others.

Rifle: A rifle is a great weapon to use as an introduction to the shooting sports. Large percentages of people have learned to shoot with a .22 caliber rifle. It is a small caliber that makes it easy for anyone to learn to shoot; the rounds can be purchased at a fraction of the cost of any other round; and a .22 rifle can be purchased relatively inexpensively.

Shotgun: In the realm of beginner weapons, a shotgun is typically not to be found, but that does not withdraw it from possibility. There are some great benefits to the shotgun as a weapon choice though as well. A single shot shotgun can be purchased at a big box store for less than $150, and a box of 25 target rounds can be obtained for about $5.

Who Can Help?

Family or friends: The ideal situation would be if you have a family member or trusted friend who is gun owner and who is available to show you their firearms and let you shoot some of them. Typically in this case, it will not cost a whole lot other than maybe the cost of ammunition (and perhaps some snacks) to get the opportunity to get a feel for how a few different weapons fire. This will give you a good idea of what might be the best fit for you before you make a large investment in a gun of your own.

Gun Range: A local, privately operated gun range will often have rental guns that can be rented for a portion of a day and fired on the range. In most cases, you don’t even have to worry about cleaning the guns after dirtying them. This is usually the one opportunity outside of shooting a friend’s or family member’s gun where you can try it before you buy it. The range staff should also be able to offer assistance with which firearms might be best suited for you in the circumstances that you will be shooting.

Gun Shop: If there is not a local range that offers rental guns or family or friends who can help you with finding a gun that is a good fit for you and your needs, the staff at a gun shop can be a huge help. There is typically no other place where one person can compare so many different models of firearms, which is a great advantage — especially for someone who is new to firearms or even just someone who wants to see what is new and exciting in the world of guns.

Where To Get Training?

Local shooting range: Find a local shooting range that offers firearm instruction at While you are there, make sure to check out the resources tab where there is some great information about news and events, printable targets, information about firearm safety and information about the shooting sports.

First Shots: The First Shots program is also offered in several States through local ranges and is designed to give interested people who have never fired a handgun the chance to learn how to, free of charge. The First Shots program covers the safe use of firearms, the local requirements for purchasing and owning a firearm, and an overview of opportunities in the shooting sports at all levels. More information can be found as well as local seminars at

Project Appleseed: One of the great programs available today is Project Appleseed from the Revolutionary War Veterans Association, which provides marksmanship clinics for all ages from mature youths all the way up to seniors. In addition to marksmanship training, the Appleseed Project includes lessons in American history and heritage with emphasis on how marksmanship skills set the course for the establishment of America. More information about Project Appleseed can be located at

Concealed Weapons Class: If the State you live in allows the lawful carry of concealed weapons, pursuing such training not only offers the opportunity to carry a concealed weapon if licensed, but it also gives great insight into the applicable firearm laws of the State. The curriculum of most States’ concealed weapons classes also involves a firearms qualification portion which can be useful in establishing firearms proficiency.

National Rifle Association: The National Rifle Association offers multiple training opportunities for everyone from beginners to competitive firearm shooters. What is unique about NRA programs is that there are specialized programs for hunters, women and youths. To look into NRA training programs, click here.

State Department of Natural Resources/Fish & Game: Every State offers hunter safety classes, usually through the Department of Natural Resources or Department of Fish & Game. While a hunter safety class will not teach expert marksmanship, attendees will gain a firm grasp on the safe handling and operation of firearms as well as how to properly and safely hunt in your State of residence.

Where To Buy?

Once you have decided what kind of gun is right for you (hopefully you received some help along the way) and completed some training, find a good place to buy your new firearm. There are a number of possible locations to purchase a gun. It is recommended that only legal options should be pursued. Some of those options include sporting goods stores, guns shops, pawn shops, auctions and gun shows.

Now that all the pieces are in place, make sure to always practice firearms safety and remember that guns are useful tools that can be very enjoyable as a lifelong hobby. All it takes is getting a start.

–Thomas Miller

Personal Liberty

Thomas Miller

lives with his wife and three sons on an island in the Pacific. He loves fishing, woodworking, hiking, swimming, golfing, and generally anything that he can do with his family. Using his skills and knowledge acquired in the Army, honed through multiple combat deployments, and gained through the ongoing study of survival and preparedness, Miller shares his knowledge and thoughts on his blog, You can also connect with him on Twitter, @preparedninja.

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