FAQ - NSSF Let's Go Shooting

My mom wants to buy a handgun for home protection. She used to compete in bull’s-eye when she was young, but it’s been a while since she’s owned or handled a firearm. Anywhere she should start?

Invite your mother to take a self-defense class at a local range. She’ll be able to discuss with the instructors and other students appropriate choices for both firearms and ammunition, she’ll get a refresher on safe handling, and she’ll learn about home storage options for any firearm she’ll purchase. That class will also introduce the range as a resource to her, something we bet will reignite her love for shooting competition.

I’ve been shooting skeet for a while now, and I’ve gotten pretty good. I’ve heard some at my club talk about a new sporting clays range that opened in the area, but I don’t know much about the game. Do I need a different shotgun, different ammo, different gear?

Not at all. Whatever shotgun, ammo and gear you’re using for skeet will be just fine for your first time shooting sporting clays. The game takes place over a course, much like golf, with various stations to shoot along the way. You’ll shoot mostly pairs in various combinations at each station, and the targets are thrown at all sorts of distances and angels—it’ll be quite a different challenge than skeet, but the sport is tremendous fun. Absolutely make plans to visit the new range and give it a try—we bet it won’t be your last trip there!

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.

A friend of mine was talking about going to the range, and she mentioned something about “doubling up” on hearing protection. What does that mean?

Sometimes, shooting at an indoor range can be a little louder than shooting outside, because of the enclosed space. “Doubling up” means your friend is using both insertable foam ear plugs and external ear muffs at the same time, which can really help dampen the noise on a busy range.

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.

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.

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