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Are you new to the world of recreational shooting? Whether you’re intrigued by the precision of marksmanship, the thrill of competition or simply want to understand firearms better, embarking on this journey can be both exciting and challenging.

Like anything new, it can also be a little daunting. But don’t worry. The shooting sports provide a welcoming atmosphere to newcomers and most staff at gun stores or at shooting ranges, as well as your fellow recreational shooters, are happy to help. There is also a wealth of resources available online and in-person to help you quickly become knowledgeable and skilled.

To ensure your success and make the most of your initial shooting experiences, here are four tips to keep in mind.

1. Try Before You Buy: Find the Perfect Fit

Imagine this: You’ve just bought your first firearm and you’re eager to start your shooting journey only to realize that the gun doesn’t feel comfortable in your hand or doesn’t shoot the way you anticipated. Maybe the recoil is too much and makes shooting uncomfortable after several shots or the grip is too large in your hands and makes it hard to hold. This situation is all too common among new gun owners who overlook the importance of trying before buying. A lot of guns may look very similar, but they often feel, shoot and operate quite differently. 

To avoid this disappointment, consider renting firearms from a local shooting range before making a purchase or speaking to other experienced shooters and maybe even going shooting with one of them if that is an option. With more than 100,000 million gun owners in the United States, odds are you know somebody who shoots and would love to share their knowledge with you.

Barring that, renting different types of firearms at a gun range that maybe even sells guns can help you gain firsthand experience with various models, calibers and styles. This test run will help you discover what feels most comfortable and natural in your hands. Pay attention to factors such as grip, weight and recoil, as these elements can significantly impact your shooting experience. Take time to talk with the person behind the gun counter or an experienced firearms trainer about your own goals and expectations. Armed with this knowledge, you’ll be better equipped to make an informed decision when you’re ready to invest in your own firearm.

2. Seek Out Training from the Start: Build a Solid Foundation

Starting any new activity can be overwhelming, and recreational shooting can be even more so given the level of safety that needs to be maintained. Aiming for success from the outset requires proper guidance and instruction. One of the best ways to do this is seeking in-person firearms training from a qualified instructor.

Professional firearms training provides valuable insights into firearm safety, handling and shooting techniques. Experienced instructors can guide you through the basics, ensuring that you understand the principles of gun safety, proper stance, aiming and trigger control. This training not only enhances your skills but also boosts your confidence, allowing you to approach shooting with the right mindset and knowledge. It can also launch your skills light years ahead of where they would be just learning on your own through trial and error. Remember, safety should always be your top priority.

3. Explore the Shooting Sports: Embrace Variety and Challenge

While shooting at a range is an excellent way to practice and refine your skills, don’t limit yourself to the same redundant practice routine. Expand your horizons by exploring the exciting world of shooting sports and competitions. Local and regional shooting events offer a unique opportunity to put your skills to the test and connect with fellow enthusiasts, which will make shooting much more fun.

From precision shooting and action shooting to shotgun sports and long-range competitions, there’s a diverse range of options to explore. Participating in these events not only adds an element of excitement and challenge to your shooting journey but also helps you refine your skills under different circumstances. Embrace the camaraderie of the shooting community and learn from experienced competitors who can share valuable insights to help you excel. What’s even better is recreational shooting being something you can enjoy with your entire family. Get them involved as well.

4. Keep Practicing: Choose the Path to Proficiency

Shooting is a perishable skill, much like any other sport or activity. Regardless of your initial proficiency, consistent practice is essential to maintain and improve your skills. Regular range sessions not only help you become more accurate and confident with your firearm but also reinforce safe habits and muscle memory.

Set aside dedicated time for practice.. Work on drills that challenge different aspects of your shooting abilities. As you progress, track your performance and identify areas for improvement. Remember that every seasoned shooter was once a beginner, and improvement comes through dedicated effort and perseverance.

Becoming a successful new shooter is a journey that requires a blend of exploration, dedication, and continuous learning, but one thing is for sure, it is also full of fun and a sense of accomplishment. Whether you’re drawn to the precision of marksmanship or the thrill of competition, remember that your journey in recreational shooting is as unique as you are. Stay safe, stay focused and enjoy every step of the way.