You Bought Your First Gun. Welcome! Here’s What to do Next. | NSSF Let's Go Shooting
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You Bought Your First Gun. Welcome! Here’s What to do Next.

Welcome to the Community of Gun Owners! If you are one of the millions of first-time gun buyers new to the world of gun ownership, you will find this community to be friendly and supportive.

As a first-time gun owner, you’re going to want to spend time practicing with your new firearm, improving your gun-handling and marksmanship skills, educate yourself about personal and home protection, and to learn about keeping guns securely stored and out of the wrong hands. This video and resources guide will help you get started.

VIDEO: Welcome First-time Gun Buyers

Welcome to the Community of Gun Owners from NSSF on Vimeo.

NSSF® President and CEO Joe Bartozzi welcomes you to the community of firearm owners and offers tips on how to safely enjoy the shooting sports.

Resources for New Gun Owners

Since it’s often a challenge to learn about all the shooting sports can offer, we’re sharing some foundational resources that you can then build upon. NSSF helps you cover bases with LetsGoShooting.org and LetsGoHunting.org. Let’s get started!

Firearm Safety and Responsible Gun Storage

Firearm safety is every gun owner’s primary responsibility. As gun owners, we are responsible for safely handling, transporting and storing firearms when they’re not in use. NSSF’s Project ChildSafe® program can help you determine the safe storage device suitable for their lifestyle and budget.

While you’re at the shooting range or anywhere you handle a firearm, safety ALWAYS comes first. There are 10 Rules of Firearms Safety, and the first four are the big ones. EVERYONE — gun owner or otherwise — should know these basic tenets of gun handling:

  1. Treat all the firearms as if they are loaded.
    By treating every firearm as if it is loaded, a habit of safety is developed.
  2. Always keep the firearm pointed in a safe direction.
    A “safe direction” means that the gun is pointed so that even if an accidental discharge occurred, it won’t cause an injury.
  3. Always keep your finger off the trigger.
    Rest your finger outside the trigger guard or along the side of the gun until you are actually ready to fire.
  4. Always know your target and what is beyond.
    For outdoor shooting, make sure you have an adequate backstop for your bullets to impact. Know what’s beyond that backstop, too, and keep your shots within the safe shooting zone.

Training and Education

Training and education should be high on the list of must-dos for any newcomer, and there’s a wealth of courses out there taught by people passionate about passing their knowledge onto you. These courses can range from safe handling and basics building to advanced skills and sport-specific instruction.

Find a Range with Classes

First Shots

The NSSF’s First Shots® program is hosted by independent shooting facilities and provides participants with a comprehensive introduction to target shooting by qualified range operators and instructors that includes firearm safety, ownership requirements, shooting fundamentals, hands-on instruction and how and where to continue. At a First Shots seminar, you’ll receive:

  • An educational introduction to the safe and recreational use of firearms.
  • An understanding of the local requirements for owning and purchasing a firearm.
  • Individual and group training.
  • A rundown of shooting sports opportunities for all levels of interest.

Find a First Shots Seminar Near You

What to Expect at the Range

On your first visit to any range, ask the range manager, safety officer or counter staff to go over the range rules and fees, and let them know you’re new to shooting so they can guide you through the appropriate safety orientation. Newcomers are always encouraged to watch NSSF’s Range Safety and Etiquette video which will help you better understand what to expect when you arrive at the range.

Try the Shooting Sports

Shooting ranges are a great place to try out many target- shooting sports and enjoy events such as date nights, shooting leagues and testing your skills in competition.

Learn more about the types of shooting sports and how to get active — and remember to invite a friend!

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