Congratulations! You own a handgun. Before you do anything with it, learn the four rules of gun safety. FAST. Teach your children and significant other those rules. Lock-up that bad boy (the gun not your children) when you’re not taking it somewhere. Those aren’t tips. They’re requirements. So . . . now what?
1. Start with an instructor
Shooting a handgun is deceptively difficult. The basics couldn’t be more basic: load the gun (bullets face forwards), point the gun at target, pull the trigger. Mastering marksmanship is a bitch. It requires proper stance, grip, trigger control, firearms manipulation (loading and unloading) and breathing.
If you develop bad shooting habits — improper stance, grip, trigger control and breathing — each bad habit will require around a thousand rounds to “reprogram” (i.e. fix). That’s expensive, time consuming and unnecessary.
As the Brits say, “start as you mean to finish.” Or, as the gun gurus say, practice does not make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect.
Get an instructor to teach you how to do it right, right from the start. There will always be room for improvement, but you only need one lesson to head down the path to perfect perforation — provided it’s the first lesson.
So don’t shoot your gun before getting one lesson from a proper instructor. Not your friend who owns more guns than the Maui Police Department (a low bar, but there you go). A professional instructor.
2. Home Carry
At this point, you may not have the slightest desire to carry a firearm on your person. Get over it. You owe it to yourself and your loved ones to carry the best self-defense tool money can buy.
Carrying a handgun is a daunting proposition. I mean, it’s a gun. The best way to get over that barrier (and start a practice you should continue for the rest of your life): home carry.
Buy a proper, comfortable holster — either exposed or concealed. Put your unloaded firearm in the holster (to start) and get on with your life. Get used to carrying.
When you’re ready, carry your handgun loaded. Do not be distracted when loading or unloading your firearm. Make sure your handgun is unloaded both before and after you home carry. Do it in a quiet place when you’re able to focus.
Do NOT unholster your handgun to show it to anyone. Not now. Not yet.
3. Practice drawing your handgun
The most important part of having a gun for self-defense: bringing your gun to bear on the bad guy.
If you can draw your weapon smoothly and efficiently, the chances are excellent that the bad guy will cease and desist. And if they don’t, a smooth draw raises the odds that you’ll survive a violent encounter.
You can’t practice drawing your gun enough — unless you’re stupid enough to do it at home with a loaded handgun. I repeat: practice with an unloaded handgun. Make damn sure it is.
Practice a proper draw, and do it slowly. Speed is a result of proper technique, not the other way around What’s a proper draw? YouTube is your friend. But this much is true . . .
Wear your holster as you would in “real life,” dressed in your normal clothes. Whenever you draw, move! Even if it’s just one step left and right. Do not practice drawing and standing still. That would be a bad thing.
Other than that, click here or at the top of the TTAG home page for our Guns for Beginners series. Be safe and have fun. In that order.