SHOOTING 101: So You Want to Own a Gun?

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There’s no shame in having questions about guns and gun ownership. After all, we all started with little to no knowledge at all, and there’s truly a lot to learn in order to be a safe, responsible gun owner. Here’s everything you need to know when first setting out to own a gun.

Shooting 101: How to Own a Gun

First, however, note that you’re not alone in your endeavor to become a new gun owner. According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), retailer surveys since 2020 showed that more than 14 million Americans have purchased a firearm for the first time. That’s more people than live in every state except for our four most populous!

Interestingly, these buyers weren’t just the “old, white men” you hear denigrated so often in the mainstream media.

“During the COVID pandemic, industry data showed Americans from all walks of life were prolific lawful purchasers of firearms,” the NSSF reported. “In 2020, African-Americans bought firearms by a 58% greater rate than in 2019. Hispanic-American purchases rose by 49% and Asian-American purchases rose by 42%. Women accounted for roughly 40%, and African-American women were especially active gun buyers.”

This first-time gun-buying spree occurred for a number of reasons. One of the biggest was the desire by many to have the means by which to protect themselves and their families. The Covid pandemic lockdowns combined with increased civil unrest in large cities and efforts to defund police in some areas helped many Americans realize for the first time that they are responsible for protecting themselves. After all, when seconds count, the police are only minutes away.

Hunting & Gun Ownership

(Photo by iStock)

Other people bought their first guns for hunting, as the quest of high-quality protein has come to the forefront and attracted many. What those people soon learn is that hunting is far more than just collecting meat—it’s an enjoyable pastime that becomes a lifestyle for many.

Yet others bought their first gun for plinking, competition shooting of various kinds or simply to practice their right to keep and bear arms. What most quickly learned was that despite their initial reason for purchasing a firearm, shooting is just plain fun!

As you might have already surmised, however, there’s a lot to think about when it comes to buying your first gun. A good place to start is asking yourself why you want to own a firearm. The answer to that question can get you started on an enjoyable research project that could eventually culminate with you finding the perfect first gun for you and the uses you have planned for it. Note that the perfect first gun for you likely wouldn’t be the best choice for someone else. It’s a highly personal choice that has to be based on the consideration of many important factors.

Firearm Types

As a brief intro, firearms can basically be classified as rifles, handguns and shotguns. Rifles shoot a single projectile, are typically more powerful than both pistols and shotguns and are accurate at much longer ranges than the other two types of firearms. Like rifles, pistols also shoot a single projectile, but typically have shorter range accuracy because of their less powerful cartridges and shorter barrels. Unlike rifles and pistols, shotguns typically shoot shotshells with multiple projectiles rather than a single slug (although they can also shoot a slug). They offer a somewhat limited range but remain far better than rifles or pistols for some specific purposes, including hunting flying game birds and even home-defense applications.

Whatever your reason for wanting to buy your first gun, we welcome you to the gun owner community with open arms. After all, owning a firearm is a constitutionally protected right, and we’re glad you are now, or soon will be, along for the ride.

Find a place to shoot near you at NSSF.org.

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