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I grew up around firearms, in fact I was about 8 years old the first time I was allowed to shoot a gun, and it was a beat-up old .22 rifle that my grandfather taught me how to use. I’ll never forget the feeling, not only the danger of the weapon in my hands, but the potential. Armed with a rifle I could put food on the table, protect our property from the rabbits that were almost a plague on our crops, and I was finally one of the “men” in our family.

But I get that not everyone has had this same experience. Especially if you weren’t brought up in a rural setting like I was, then you may have had a much different experience with firearms. Some of my friends when I moved to the city had a very negative opinion of the weapons, because they’d seen on the news (or been personally exposed to) the violence that a minority of gun owners use to intimidate, rob and steal from people like you and me.

So, in today’s post I want to share a few tips. To help you understand why a love of firearms is actually a good thing, and give you some pointers that I believe will come in handy the first time you shoot a gun. It’s not a scary experience, it’s a practical one. As I believe we all should have the means to defend ourselves if the SHTF.

Start at a shooting range

The best place for your first-time shooting is at a shooting range, with a professional instructor who can show you around the weapon as you learn to be accurate firing at a target. Make no mistake, firearms are a deadly thing, and it’s vital you know the basics of good gun safety so you’re not putting yourself (or those around you) at any unnecessary risk. Like where to point the gun, how to disengage the safety. The correct way to hold the weapon, and how to discharge it safely.

From the friends I’ve introduced to shooting, there’s two things that really stand out. They’re not always prepared for the noise that comes, so have them wear earplugs and hearing protection and safety glasses. And make sure to spend the time explaining how each part of the gun works, and build their confidence handling it. A little knowledge here goes a long way, and so does best practices, like never resting your finger on the trigger, or never pointing a gun in another person’s direction.

Learn the fundamentals of aim

Unfortunately, Hollywood doesn’t do gun owners justice, as they make it seem like all you need to do is pick it up and begin shooting. There’s a lot more nuance to it than that, and you need to take the time to learn how to properly aim, hold and lock onto a target.

In my experience this is best learned in a class, with an experienced instructor who can quickly, safely and accurately explain the right way to do this for the particular firearm you’re learning to shoot. I picked up a lot of bad habits from my grandfather when it came to shooting long range, as I mostly just picked things up as I went along. Sadly, it took me years to “undo” this training (and thousands of dollars in shooting classes) that I could have saved if I had the right instruction from day one.

Consider why you need a gun

For me, we used our rifles primarily for hunting. We’d supplement our supplies with deer, rabbit and anything else we could shoot on our property, and this was a staple part of my childhood. But you’re likely going to be in a very different position if you’re looking to learn how to shoot for self-defense, or are planning to carry a concealed weapon.

Consider why you need a gun, so you can take the time your first time shooting to learn the ins and outs of that particular style of weapon. There is much variety when it comes to firearms, from different calibers to laws on gun ownership that are imperative to understand, so you can make the best possible decision on the particular gun you need.

Don’t forget a secure storage space

I believe everyone should own a gun, but it’s also important you’ve got a secure place it can be stored. Especially if you have children at home. Guns should be locked away when not in use, and stored without being loaded, just in case your kids ever get their hands on them.

I’ll say it again because this is critical. Your kids will find a way to get at your guns, it is your job as a parent to ensure they have not only the respect for the weapons, you’ve also taken reasonable steps to lock and secure your firearms out of their reach.

Think about taking a life

Finally, and this is important. You need to take a little time to think about the situations you may need to use your firearm in, and the subsequent decisions this results in. If there’s someone coming into your home, are you ready, willing and able to pull the trigger? What if they are threatening your family? What if they’re also armed?

These are heavy questions I know, especially for a first-time shooter, but they go hand-in-hand with responsible gun ownership and you need to know where your own line in the sand is drawn. I personally wouldn’t hesitate if someone was threatening my life, but perhaps you would look at this situation differently than I would. It’s important you think about it now, so you’re not stuck like a deer in the headlights if you ever face it yourself.

Shooting a gun for the first time is an exhilarating experience, and it is my humble opinion that every patriot arms themselves to the full extent of the law. Because when the SHTF and the bad guys turn up at your door, if you’re not prepared to fight back, things will go sideways fast.

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