I suppose you could say that I’ve been a member of the gun culture my entire life. When I was in elementary school all I ever wanted to do was be outside “playing Army” with my toy guns. At age eleven I was introduced to a Daisy BB gun by my maternal grandfather and the die was cast. That’s how it’s almost always been. A father, uncle, or grandfather introduces a young person to firearms and they either get the bug or they don’t. We’ve had a “gun culture” a lot longer than I’ve been alive, folks who passed their love of firearms down to their family members . . .
As an industry, Firearms and Ammunition manufacturers have gotten very good at marketing to the choir. They’ve essentially be servicing the same kind of customers for the last hundred years. We know how to market to each other but what about the new or first-time gun buyers?
First Time Gun Buyers
After every crisis; riot, hurricane, earthquake, terrorist attack, etc., we see a spike in gun sales. These spikes normally abate quickly and it’s back to business as usual. That situation has changed. Today, a situation that was once considered a spike has become an undeniable trend.
Since the end of 2008, the numbers of first-time gun buyers, particularly in the handgun market, have risen dramatically. Thousands upon thousands of men and women are purchasing or considering purchasing their first gun. The sales figures from Ruger and Smith&Wesson will bear me out on this.
First-time gun buyers aren’t necessarily “gun people” or a part of the traditional gun culture. They are men and women from all walks of life who have come to the personal decision that now is a good time to own a firearm. These folks are on the outside of the gun tent peeking in.
But being a first-time gun buyer is tough. Mention in public that you are considering buying a gun and you are hit from both sides. On one side you have the pop culture pacifists trying to talk you out of such a vile and dangerous decision. On the other side you have the well-meaning, but often abrasive, “gun guys” who bombard you with stories of their favorite blaster and why it’s the only one to buy.
Money for Training
If I were to give direct advice to a first time gun buyer, I’d tell them to save some money for training. Rather than spend $750 on a pistol with nothing left over, they’re better served with a $400 pistol and $350 for practice ammunition and training.
Far too often, Americans will try to buy their way around training, but can’t be done. A $1000 pistol in the hands of an untrained shooter is no different than a $500 pistol in the same hands. No amount of custom accessories will make up for poor gun handling skills.
When it comes time to secure training, do your research. Check around and ask folks who have actually taken the courses, not just read about them. Keep in mind that some of the most worthwhile training might require travel if there’s not a school nearby. Make it an adventure. Think of the time and monetary commitment as an investment in yourself.
A New Resource
MyFirstGun.net is an online resource specifically designed to aid and assist the recent gun buyer or someone who is about to make that decision. Easy to digest articles, photographs, and educational videos will provide the potential or first-time gun buyer with a solid foundation free of bias or hype. My First Gun was set up to help translate some of those foreign gun terms, help you ask the right questions, and ultimately make the decision that’s best for you.
Paul Markel, host of Student of the Gun television and professional firearms instructor, will provide numerous written and videotaped educational pieces. Topics will include foundational material such as choosing the correct gun for the task, understanding handgun actions, ammunition choices, seeking professional training and practice.