I'm a Firearms Beginner - Where Do I Start?

Over the years, I’ve had many conversations with people about shooting.  One common conversation is around basic unfamiliarity or lack of experience.  Many people say things like, “I’ve never even seen a real gun, let alone held one” or “I have a gun at home and it was Grandpa’s, I have no ideas how it works” or “I’d like to learn how to shoot but I don’t even know where to start”.

Well, a great place to start is to find some good introductory training put on by a certified instructor.  For example, the NRA has a lineup of basic courses for shotguns, rifles or pistols along with some other offerings, all taught by certified instructors.  An in person course will usually also get you some time at the range.  This way, you immediately apply what you learned in the classroom and get a feel for live fire in the same experience.  It can be intimidating, and potentially unsafe, to just go the range and try to figure it out on your own.

Here’s more good news.  You almost never will need to go purchase a firearm to get started.  Most classes put on by certified instructors will also allow you to rent or borrow a firearm to shoot at the range.  Sometimes the ranges themselves have rental options.  Most times, instructors will have a very basic or low recoil option for you to use for your first time handling a firearm, meaning you don’t need to make an investment in a firearm first.  And with an easy to handle low recoil option, you can make sure you’re nailing the safety basics before trying something different.

I also run across people who feel anxiety around asking what they think are silly questions.  Well, rest easy.  When it comes to learning to safely handle and operate a firearm, there are never any silly questions, especially if you are a beginner.  Certified instructors expect and WANT you to ask questions.  We want to make sure you understand the content we’re teaching, how to make sure you stay safe, and most importantly learn how much fun the shooting sports can be. 

Lastly, the great thing about a basic class is that you’re very likely going to be sitting next to someone in the same spot you are, wanting to learn more, and maybe just getting their start too.  Go into class ready to learn and ask the instructor anything.  Any instructor worth their stripes will answer all of your questions, and If they don’t know, will find out for you.

General gun anxiety keeps many people from even taking these first steps.  My advise here is: DON’T LET IT!  Once you get some good training and some hands on practice, you will be amazed how fast your concerns or uneasiness fade away.  Safety remains of course paramount, but knowing HOW to be safe with a firearm will allow you to enjoy the shooting sports.  A day on the range is incredible stress relief!  You’ll want to come back.

So get out there and find yourself a good instructor!  You can find more information on the NRA’s course offerings in your area at the link below. 


I addition, Lambda Defensive Firearms Training currently offers NRA Basic Pistol Training on a periodic basis.  Check out our website for class schedule.  Reach out to us anytime with any questions, class related or not.

See you at the range!