Learning how to shoot a gun properly isn't hard but since guns comes in many different types, some preparation is needed, for an optimal experience. The first thing you'll need in order to shoot a gun properly is the owners manual. With that basic booklet and an understanding of gun safety, you'll be ready for the range in no time. If this is your first gun, see if lessons are available at the range to supplement your personal training.
- Read the owners manual. Your owner's manual comes with your gun. It covers specific operating needs and the gun's safety mechanisms. Read the short manual from beginning to end. Look at the pictures describing the different operating parts and focus on the safety lever. Be sure to get a a good theoretical understanding of your gun's mechanics, Store the manual in an easily accessible place.
- Verify gun is unloaded. Point the gun in a safe direction at all times. Keep your finger out of the trigger guard and remove the magazine. Point the gun up at a 45 degree angle and pull the slide back. Visually inspect that the chamber is empty. Pull the slide back twice more and check again that the chamber is empty. If you gun has a decocker, use it to drop the hammer and if not, pull the trigger while pointing at a safe direction.
- Practice at home. Before going to the range, practice at home to get the basics right. Learn how to get a good sight picture. Learn to control the trigger but only after you made sure the gun is unloaded. Repeat sight picture drills and trigger control drills for several hours. This is type of practice is called dry fire drills. Even pro shooters who know how to shoot a gun properly do these drills to become faster and more effective.
- Go to a range. Review and understand all safety rules. Settle in your booth. Make sure all ammunition matches your gun. If there are competent shooters in the range, observe them and memorize their actions.
- Load your gun. Go back to your booth and load your gun while pointing it down range. Be sure to always point your gun down range and to obey all safety rules. Point the gun at 45 degrees, insert the magazine into the magazine well and then tap it lightly to assure it is fully inserted.
- Get ready to shoot. To shoot properly, you must shoot safely. Keep the safety lever engaged and your finger outside the trigger guard. Point the gun toward the target. Get a good feel for the balance of the gun. Place your sights on the middle of your target. Focus your eyes on the front sights and let an imaginary line connect the rear dots and the front dot. With your sight picture in place you are ready to shoot your gun properly.
- Fire aimed shots. Pull the trigger gently. Apply consistent pressure on the trigger, while pulling back until the trigger drops the hammer to release the shot. To shoot a gun properly, you need to consistently control your trigger and not jerk it. Do not worry about recoil. Do not anticipate recoil. Simply pull the trigger back until the shot fires.
- Follow through. Maintain your aim and position on target. Wait for a second or two before shooting again or unloading.
- Unload your gun. Point the gun up at 45 degrees and remove the magazine. Pull the slide back three times. Visually inspect that the chamber is empty. Point the handgun toward the target and pull the trigger. Your gun is now unloaded. Most ranges require you to place the gun into a holster or bag before leaving the booth. Follow the range's safety rules.
- Practice and repeat. Shooting skills are perishable. To shoot a gun properly, you must practice both at home and at the range. Arrange a training schedule of an hour or two a week at home. Try to shoot at the range at least once a month. Shooting a gun properly isn't hard and you'll get better over time. Maintain safety above all else and have a good time shooting.
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