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Before You Buy, Explore

By C-Mag

thumbnailAs a volunteer safety officer, I enjoy teaching new shooters the ropes. Usually, new shooters allow me to lead them through their first steps into the gun world, but every once in a while, I provide instruction to someone who has already purchased a gun. These people worry me most, because of their complete lack of knowledge about operating and maintaining a firearm.

I consider owning and operating a firearm similar to owning and operating a car. Not only should one know how to drive a typical car, but one should become especially familiar with a vehicle one owns and plans to drive regularly. A gun owner should know how to maintain and lightly service their gun, similar to changing the oil and topping off wiper fluid in a car. They should know their gun's personality and quirks, like which magazines feed best, or which brand of ammo the gun likes/dislikes. Truly understanding a gun will not only increase chances of wielding it well in an emergency situation, but it will also help improve safety at the range and at home.

And now, it's story time:
My parents recently purchased a handgun, their first. They bought a .38 special revolver for home defense and I think that they did a fairly good job with their research and purchasing process. It's a reasonable choice for my mother, who is a petite woman. I commended them on their purchase, until they told me their plan for training and learning their gun. They informed me that they were planning to shoot the revolver once or twice and then keeping it locked away. Rather than berate them, I set out to gently show them the error of their ways.

Upon my next visit to their home, I brought three of my handguns, to help educate them about general firearm operation and maintenance. We went shooting at their local range, where they both fared well. At home again, I broke down each of my pistols (various semi-automatics) and showed them how clean and service them and then did the same with their gun. They learned a lot and gained some respect for the various abilities of different platforms and features. They also promised to keep up their regular training.

So, what does this mean to you? Well, best case scenario, don't buy a gun before you spend a bunch of time learning to shoot (and reading the ArmedCandy blog). You might even discover that features you prefer as a beginner, change as you learn more. If you've already made a purchase, you probably have something that will be great for defense that you can grow into. Consider renting a pistol of a smaller caliber to start. Bring your new firearm to the range as well and get some good instruction on cleaning and servicing (YouTube is a great resource for learning how to clean firearms). Don't stick your new gun in a drawer after shooting it twice and assume that you are now "safe". Learn to love your gun and it will love you in return.

©2013 ArmedCandy,LLC

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