Beginning Rifle: 5 Questions the New Shooter Must Ask Themselves First

New to shooting rifle
New to shooting rifle

Ruger M77 Hawkeye in 6.5 Creedmoor

If you're new to the realm of long guns, trying to figure out where to start can be hard. So, we've put together this short list of questions that you need to ask yourself to help point you in the right direction.
  • Am I familiar with the different types of rifles available to me? There are bolt-actions, single shots with varying actions, lever action and semi-automatics available. All of them can be used for hunting and target practice if your area allows.
  • What do I intend to do with this firearm? Are you going to hunt varmint and other small animals with it? Deer? Bear? Or, is this just a way to go have fun after work and on the weekends?

  • Do I plan to do any competition shooting with it? If so, have I done sufficient research as to which rifle cartridge is best for what I'm looking to do?
  • What size rifle projectile do I want to shoot? There are a lot of different options out there that range from mild to wild. This goes along with the previous question, but there is a lot to take into account. For example, some rifle ammo is extremely expensive. Others, not so much. You'll need to know this. Also, if you're going to hunt with it, taking a .22 to a deer hunt doesn't make  a lot of sense. It can be done, but you'd be better suited with something else.
  • Will I need a scope to shoot it? Or, should I just use the steel sights that it comes with? We recommend starting with iron sights and then moving on to a scope afterwards. When you do that, it helps you learn the mechanics of shooting, instead of relying on an optic.

Speaking of mechanics, most new long gun shooters don't start off with the biggest caliber rifle they can find. Instead, they begin with a smaller cartridge, like a .22 LR, so they can get used to what they're doing, how to breathe properly, proper trigger control, sight alignment and sight picture. After they've mastered the basics, they may decide to move up to something that can actually be hunted with and used for target practice. A good choice at this point would be a rifle chambered in .223 or .243. Both can be hunted with and used at the range, and offer up low felt recoil.
There is a ton of research that you need to conduct before you make any big purchases. Starting out with a .22LR is a good option because it won't break the bank, and the price of ammo has come down considerably since its recent highs. It can still be a bit tricky to find, but it is out there, and a monster box of 500+ rounds of ammo is about $35.

Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments below. Also, tell us what you look for whenever you go shopping for a new rifle. Remember, this is all to help out newer shooters in the name of education. Finally, this shirt is only 10 bucks. Let everyone know where you stand!
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