Get a Grip: Shooting Tips for Those Just Starting Out - ITS Tactical
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Get a Grip: Shooting Tips for Those Just Starting Out

By ITS Guest Contributor

When I started shooting decades ago, I was young and impatient and I still remember how challenging it seemed at first. Now being the skilled teacher of the basic marksmanship I am today, there are some lessons I’d like to share to make it easier for new shooters.

Starting out, I wanted quick results and every miss made me furious. However, it’s important to realize it’s okay to make mistakes as a beginner. Don’t give up just because something goes wrong! People who aren’t cut out for shooting just don’t exist. It’s all a matter of practice and expertise, nothing else. In fact, the individuals who hate shooting would never read this article, but here you are! So I assume you’re interested in learning how you can become a better shooter.

Love what you do, or leave

Below, I’ve prepared some useful tips for those just starting out in their shooting journey. Before you start reading though, please remember one thing. Shooting isn’t something you can learn on the spur of the moment. So make sure you’re ready to put in some time and effort.

If you practice regularly, you’ll see the results pretty soon, I promise. Though if you aren’t ready to work hard, then you’d better find your true source of inspiration. Feeding hungry, but false ambitions will lead you nowhere. As they say, “Love what you do, or leave.”

Safety Comes First

Did you know that practical shooting is no more dangerous than playing chess? However this is only true if you care about safety. Not only should you provide total safety and security for yourself, but also for everyone else! This is serious and I mean it. Absolute safety is a mandatory condition in becoming a shooting pro. Here are crucial must-do things every beginner should always remember.

Always think of your weapon as loaded. Even if you’re 100% sure that your weapon isn’t loaded, you should always treat it as such and double check the chamber for a cartridge. When checking this, you’ll also need to ensure the gun is pointed in a safe direction.

Never place your finger on the trigger, except when firing. Real pros will never have their finger on the trigger unless they’re ready to fire at their target. Having your finger on the trigger at any other time can put yourself and those around you at risk.

Never point your weapon at anything except your target. As you’re abiding by the first rule I mentioned and always treating your gun like it’s loaded, you’ll never want to point the barrel of the gun at anything other than the target you wish to shoot. Even if you’ve verified that the gun is empty, you should still never point it at anything other than your target.

Be aware of what’s behind your target. While you may have a target in sight, you need to ensure that there aren’t people, animals or valuable objects beyond it. Remember that a round can pass through a target and travel into something you didn’t intend to hit.

Avoid Health Risks

There’s nothing inherently fatal about safe shooting, especially if you’re following the rules mentioned above. However, there are health risks to consider when shooting. Adhere to the following advice though and you’ll never face any of them.

Be prepared for injuries caused by other shooters. The more experienced shooters you have around you, the less danger you’ll face. On the opposite end, beginners can pose a threat to themselves and others. So make sure you’re wearing the right equipment and watch out. Also ensure that you’re also carrying medical equipment to be prepared for things like gunshot wounds.

Be prepared for injuries caused by ricochet. When shooting, you always want to protect your eyes and other vital organs from injury. So even if you’re just peeping in the gallery, ensure your eye protection is on. Also ensure that the target you’re shooting at has a proper backstop that won’t send rounds or fragments back your way.

Take steps to prevent hearing damage. Guns are loud and to protect your ears, ensure that you’re always wearing the proper ear protection. Be sure that you’re mindful of others in the vicinity by saying out loud, “the range is hot” just in case someone doesn’t have their eye or ear protection on. Don’t be shy, people will be grateful to you for giving them a heads up.

Decrease the chances of lead or chemical poisoning. Make sure the range you’re using has good ventilation. Lead particles can become airborne and inhaling them can definitely be hazardous. You should also wash your hands and face after each training session. This helps cut down on any effects from things like lead, lubricants, toxic compounds or gasses.

Take preventative measures to avoid other bodily injury. Before each session, consider warming up. While it might sound strange, stretching and warming up your muscles before shooting can ensure that you don’t twist or pull something during a more physical drill.

Practice the Right Amount

Shooting is purely a mechanical skill. The more you shoot, the better you’ll get. It’s like driving a car, anyone can do it if properly trained. Based on my personal experience, I can say that only shooting 50-100 cartridges a month won’t help you make significant progress. It will simply help you maintain your skills at a lower level.

There’s a risk of emotional burnout

I’d estimate that shooting 100-150 cartridges a week will provide you with an “above-average” level in about six months. However, you’ll be able to achieve even better results if you’re able to schedule 6-8 sessions per month, using 200-300 cartridges during these sessions.

Other the other end of the spectrum, shooting 200-300 cartridges every day won’t be good for you either. There’s a risk of emotional burnout when shooting this frequently. In fact, I almost quit after the first month of extensive shooting. In addition to emotional burnout, my joints hurt due of the vibration load on my hands and elbows.

Additional Things to Consider

Selecting a gun that fits you is extremely important to becoming a competent shooter. Visit a range that offers gun rentals and try out several types to see what works best for you. In addition, read and watch tips from experts on various media platforms. You’ll gain valuable insight from these experienced shooters.

Consider attending some shooting competitions to hone your skills and learn from others. These competitions can quickly show you some things that require work on your part. Another great tool for improving certain areas is keeping a shooting diary. Notate the number of rounds you fired and the drills you worked on.

If you’re considering formal instruction, be sure to check reviews and information about your instructor online before committing to a class. You want to ensure the information you’re receiving is correct and that the course is conducted in a safe manner.

When researching, don’t treat random information on forums and social media as gospel. Many times, the anonymous Internet paves the way for incorrect information to prosper. Do your due diligence and research several sources to make sure your info is correct.

Lastly, don’t economize on important equipment. Cheap equipment is plentiful, but many manufacturers will cut corners or use cheaper materials. When it comes to live saving equipment, you want to ensure what you have will work when you need it to.

I hope these tips help you to protect yourself and guarantee the safety of other shooters. Good luck with mastering your shooting skills!

Editor-in-Chief’s Note: Please join us in welcoming Jack Billington as a contributor on ITS. Jack is a former military officer that studied military history, something that stuck with him even after his service. He devotes his free time to conducting shooting courses and writes a blog covering home & self-defense training tips. Additionally, you can find him on Facebook.

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