Whether you are going hunting, to a range or trap shooting for the first time, there are some tips and hints that first-timers should know in order to have a safe and enjoyable experience. Basically forget everything you have even seen in a movie and start over. When in doubt, ask the person or instructor who you are shooting with.
1) SAFETY FIRST
a. First time rifle shooters should always be with an experienced shooter; either a friend or relative or through an offered class to ensure safety. When handling a rifle, or any kind of weapon for that matter, safety and proper handling is the key to avoiding accidents or possible tragedy. First, NEVER point the rifle at anyone whether the rifle is loaded or not. Most ranges require that you aim the rifle down field at all times or on a designated gun rack when not in use.
2) Wear proper attire
a. Safety-minded ranges will require eye and ear protection and you can rent these items or buy them cheaply wherever you go. Flat shoes are a must and simple jeans and a t-shirt will work best. It’s a gun range, not a fashion show. If hunting, wear proper hunting attire that is brightly colored for your safety. If on a range, it might be windy or chilly so bring a coat.
3) Check the rules and regulations of the place where you are shooting
a. Most ranges have their own rules and regulations that you must adhere to. These will be explained to you while you are signing up and paying your range fees. Ask questions if you don’t understand, a range staff member will probably always be close and monitoring the activity of the range.
4) Make sure you have the right ammo, gauge and other necessities
a. Most likely the person or instructor shooting with you will take care of these things but having the proper equipment to go shooting is of utmost importance. Each rifle has its own gauge that it needs and getting the right ammo is the difference between if you get to shoot that day or not. If you are going hunting there will be a list of items needed. If you are going target or trap shooting those items can be purchased at a hunting store or on the range.
5) Check your posture
a. It is imperative to get your stance and posture down when holding a rifle. Bad stance will hurt your back, lessen your accuracy and can be unsafe in some instances. Make sure that the person or instructor who is shooting with you takes the time to tell you how to hold the rifle, how to position your body and how to align your vision so you can see your target properly.
6) It’s ok to be startled
a. The first time you line up and finally pull the trigger of the rifle for the first time it can be startling but don’t worry too much! It is very normal to even be a little scared due to the noise and the recoil. If it’s too much, take a step back and acclimate to the environment before going forward. Everyone is a little scared their first time shooting a rifle, everyone so there’s no shame in taking time to get used to it.
7) Don’t be worried if you don’t actually shoot anything your first time
a. There are a lot of things to remember when learning to shoot a rifle and accuracy comes with practice, good teaching and getting more comfortable with it. If you are trap shooting your first time, don’t get frustrated if you don’t hit anything. Your goal is to be safe and start learning about proper technique the first time out.
8) You might be a little sore afterwards
a. The recoil (the force exerted from the rifle after it is fired) can vary greatly from rifle to rifle. If it is a shoulder rifle (as opposed to one meant to be shot at the hip) the butt of it will recoil into your shoulder every time it fires. Even if you don’t feel it right away, that spot on your shoulder where the rifle was positioned might be a little sore the next day.