FAQ - NSSF Let's Go Shooting

I inherited a much-loved and good-quality revolver from my grandfather. It’s chambered for .38 Special. What’s a good ammunition choice for paper target practice?

Your local handgun range and firearms retailers should all stock something called wadcutters or semi-wadcutters in .38 Special. These bullet configurations have been used for decades for target shooting because they produce nice, clean-edged holes in paper targets, which make reading scores for shots that are “on the line” easier. The good news is that wadcutters and semi-wadcutters are among some of the most inexpensive rounds you can find for this caliber—just remember to do a thorough cleaning job after each shooting session with them to prevent lead build-up.

Do I need my own firearm if I go to a range alone?

That depends on the range. You can visit the range finder here to search for a place to shoot. Those range that rent firearms will have that information listed.

Do I need a handgun license or concealed carry license to shoot at a range?

The requirements vary by state. It is best to contact your local range or look at their website to see what the requirements are to shoot at their facility. You can also contact your local police or sheriff’s department to learn more about the firearms ownership and possession regulations in your community and state.

I carry concealed daily. Can I go to the range with my firearm concealed and then practice with it there?

Most ranges require that any firearm being used on the range be brought in unloaded and in a case. For safety reasons, particularly those surrounding various holster arrangements, most ranges will prohibit the use of your firearm from your concealed carry holster while practicing. The exception to this rule would be if you are in a class and concealed carry holster skills are something you are working on, with the instructor’s approval.

What is the best gun to use to teach my wife how to shoot?

Teaching a new shooter is not so much a matter of what gun, as much as it is what caliber or gauge. For new handgun and rifle shooters, starting with a rimfire .22 LR is almost always your best bet, as they have little recoil and are low on noise. For shotgunning, a shotgun that fits the new shooter well—they don’t struggle to keep it on their shoulder and they can comfortably reach the trigger and forearm, neither reaching too far out for either nor feeling too cramped because the gun is too short—is the first place to start.

For shotgunners, the old school of thought used to be to start someone new with a .410-bore or 28-gauge. But both have very small pellet payloads, which makes getting hits hard for a new shooter. With today’s modern low-recoil and extra-low-recoil target loads in 12- and 20-gauge, new shooters have a better chance of connecting with a flying clay target while still having a gentle, pleasurable experience with the gun.

Can I wear regular sunglasses while shooting?

You should always wear glasses that have been safety rated as shatter resistant. Most will have a safety rating of ANSI Z87.1+. If your prescription glasses are shatter resistant, they can be used, but something that wraps around the sides of the eyes offers the best protection.

I know I need to keep my guns from falling into the wrong hands. What are my options for securely storing them. What if I want quick access to a handgun for home protection?

The best overview of secure storage options for firearms is NSSF’s Safe Storage infographic which, covers safety devices ranging from gun locks and lockable gun cases to lock boxes and full-size floor safes. There really is a safe storage device for every home situation—simply hiding a gun is not safe storage. For your home protection handgun, a lock box is the perfect solution. They give you quick access to your firearm while preventing access by unauthorized persons, including children. For a free gun lock, visit ProjectChildSafe.org.

My kids see that I enjoy target shooting and are curious about my guns. How do I talk to them about gun safety?

NSSF has excellent resources for parents and children on the topic of gun safety at its Project ChildSafe Resource Library. One of the most popular is the video “Talking with Kids about Gun Safety,” featuring World Champion shooter and mom Julie Golob giving tips on what to say during conversations with both young children and teenagers about gun safety. NSSF videos featuring the McGruff the Crime Dog character are also a great choice. These teach children in preschool to middle school how to respond if they encounter an unsecured gun, whether in their home, at a friend’s home or at school. Have your child sign a safety pledge to be safe around guns.

A friend offered to take me to the range for the first time. She always tells me about the great time she has shooting in matches and the great people she’s met. I’m interested and curious, but I’ve never done anything like this before and I’m also pretty nervous. Is that normal?

You are definitely not alone. To help you understand more about what’s involved with safety and etiquette at the range, NSSF developed the video Introduction to Range Safety and Etiquette to make that first visit, and subsequent visits to the range, less intimidating.

What are the costs involved in going to a range?

Most indoor ranges allow you to rent a shooting lane in 30-minute intervals and fees vary generally anywhere from $5 to $15 per 30 minutes. Outdoor rifle ranges should have similar fees and slightly higher. If you plan on visiting an outdoor range for some fun clay sports, you can expect to pay around $5 for each skeet or trap round of 25 targets, while with casual sporting clays courses of 50 to 100 rounds you can expect to pay somewhere in the range of $25 to $50 depending upon the range. Ranges come in all shapes and sizes, from country casual and community friendly to full-amenity clubs and resorts, so be sure to call and ask a facility about its fees. Ammunition is not included in most range fees, so buy ahead or ask the range what kinds of ammunition it has for sale and prices.

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