So you just bought your first gun, or simply want to try out some guns out before making a purchase. If you’ve never been to a gun range before it can be pretty intimidating. To start, most ranges are full of people, mostly men. If you’re shy, you may want to take a friend with you. In fact some ranges will require that a friend vouch on your behalf before you can rent a gun. That is, if you don’t already own a gun. Unfortunately, some ranges have experienced a person coming in to rent a gun for the sole purpose of committing suicide. Maybe they think that if they come in with a friend they wont have that in mind. Whatever the reason, every range has their own rules and if you want to shoot there you must follow them. As you approach the counter area, you will be asked to read over the rules and also sign some sort of waiver. Most ranges require that you leave your ID with them, until you are done shooting and are ready to pay.
Gun range prices vary from place to place so you may want to call first. Maybe check out their prices on their website. If you already own a gun and have your own ammo you will only have to pay for range time. That varies also, since some places charge by the hour, and some by the night for each person or lane. Things can add up if you don’t have eye and ear protection which are mandatory in most ranges. Some ranges will sell them, others will rent them to you. For sanitary purposes, I think it’s better to bring your own, of course! Where it gets really pricey is if you don’t own a gun and want to rent theirs. They will usually require you to buy their ammo too, since it’s their gun and they want to maintain it in operation. Oh, and some ranges won’t let you bring your own targets, so you will have to purchase those too. In the case of outdoor ranges, which have Range Safety Officers monitoring the shooting bay, you will have to have some kind of empty chamber indicator. Phew! Now you see that it can get very expensive for a night out of shooting.
Now you’ll take all your goodies to your assigned shooting lane, after you put on your eye and ear protection. At this point, do not un-case your firearm until you are at your lane, making sure that when you do it will be pointed down range. If it’s an indoor range, the lane will have either a mechanical or an electronic target holder. If it’s an outdoor range, you’ll have to wait for a cease fire period so you can go out on the field and hang a target. Once you’re ready you can load your gun or dry fire it, while pointing down range. When shooting a new gun or an unfamiliar model always start off with an empty gun while you load and unload an empty magazine. If you have a revolver, learn how to open the latch and count the chambers.Learn how to load and unload it. Depending on whether it’s a single action revolver or a double action revolver, there will be a difference. It’s a good idea to have some dummy rounds, or snap caps in the caliber of the gun you want to dry fire.
Remember to always keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction, whether you are handling an empty gun or a loaded one. Always, keep your finger off the trigger and out of the trigger guard until you’re ready to shoot. Keep the gun unloaded until you’re ready to shoot it. Verify the guns condition by opening the action. Check both visually and physically to make sure the gun is unloaded, before stepping away from the bench, putting away your gun, or if a cease fire is called. Use a chamber flag if the range requires it.
Try loading one round at first, then five rounds and progress from there. If you aren’t used to the bang and the recoil of a gun it may make you nervous. This is totally normal. Some women will experience strong emotions and even cry at their first shooting experience. This is due to the adrenaline and anticipation that builds up to handling something so powerful. If you find you cannot continue for the night or aren’t sure of how to unload and put away the gun safely, get assistance. In the range staff there is always someone on duty that can help you. Do not worry,it happens often and no one will judge you. On the contrary, you must put safety above all else. There is no rush and you can come back another night or after some formal instruction. In most cases, formal instruction is what you need to build confidence. You will be back to the range in no time with new skills and knowledge about safe gun handling.
You may also find that once you shoot your first few rounds, you will want to come back as often as your finances permit. Once you do decide on a gun and learn the fundamentals of shooting you will need to practice them in order to build muscle memory. If a situation should arise and you need to use your gun, it would be difficult to remember the skills you learned but never used before. Do a search on shooting clubs that meet often. You can learn a lot from other experienced shooters but you can also learn from other newbies too. Most importantly, always practice the safe gun handling rules which are to; always keep the gun pointed in a safe direction, always keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot, always keep the gun unloaded until ready to use, know your target and what is beyond it. Additionally, always use the correct ammunition for your firearm and learn how to maintain your gun. Use proper storage for your gun, making sure children and unauthorized people cannot get a hold of it. Study the laws in your area regarding ownership,use,storage and transportation of your firearm. You can learn more about ownership and safe gun handling from the National Rifle Association’s NRA.org site
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