This brief beginner’s guide to proper gun handling will help you become more confident and effective with your chosen firearm in any circumstance.
Gun Handling for New Gun Owners
Using a gun isn’t really as simple as “point and shoot.”
In reality, how you handle a gun can affect how safe you are with a firearm, whether or not you’re ready for a hunting trip, and your overall accuracy.
To Load or Not to Load
Should your gun be loaded or unloaded?
A good general rule of thumb is that, unless you are about to use the weapon or you are conceal-carrying a pistol, your weapon should be unloaded at all times.
This prevents misfires and the types of accidents you read about on the internet, where some average joe assumes his gun is unloaded and accidentally shoots his toe off.
In fact, that leads us to another important point: always act like every gun is loaded, even if you are 100% sure that it’s not.
That’s because you can never be 100% sure that a firearm is totally unloaded, and practicing good firearm safety relies on this cornerstone.
In league with the above points, every responsible firearm owner will keep their barrel pointed at the ground at all times unless, again, they’re about to take a shot.
This goes for hunters, target shooters, and even people in self-defense situations. If you raise the barrel at your target, you must intend to shoot.
Never swing your barrel around willy-nilly, even if you think the gun is unloaded. Remember, it may not be!
The ground is the ideal place to aim your gun since a bullet fired in the air can (although it’s unlikely) come down at an angle and injure or kill somebody far in the distance.
Good trigger discipline is a staple faucet of proper gun handling.
Trigger discipline essentially means you should always keep your trigger finger away from the trigger itself unless you’re about to squeeze off a shot.
Keep your trigger finger to the side of the trigger instead. Don’t just idly let your fingers sit in the loop while you’re waiting.
This prevents you from accidentally squeezing the trigger and letting off around when you don’t intend to.
Every modern firearm will come with a built-in safety that, when clicked on, will prevent the trigger from being squeezed.
Make sure you know where the safety is located on any firearm you handle and that the safety is on when you’re handed the weapon.
The safety should only ever come off (you guessed it) when you’re about to take a shot. Seeing a running theme, here?
Some guns feature additional safety functions.
For example, many Glock pistols come with an extra trigger safety system that prevents you from squeezing the trigger at the top of the spring.
Proper gun handling means understanding all the safety aspects of a given weapon and using them when appropriate.
Grip and Stance
Your grip and stance also affect your gun handling.
Never try to perform “trick shots” or hold your gun sideways or with one hand – this is improper gun handling.
Proper gun handling involves:
- always keeping two hands on your weapon,
- leaning forward to offset recoil,
- holding a solid, steady stance so your aim doesn’t swing wide and you endanger people nearby.
You should also consider your drawing technique if you want to master proper gun handling.
As described above, stay away from flashy quickdraws and other stylistic moves.
Try for smooth, no-nonsense draws that keep your trigger finger away from the trigger until the weapon is firmly in your palms and ready to go.
Every single one of the tips described above can be practiced at the range and/or under the supervision of a teacher.
We’d heavily recommend taking a gun safety course and learning proper gun handling before heading out on a hunting trip or carrying a weapon for self-defense.
As a beginner, what are the issues you face with gun handling? Let us know in the comments section!