Confessions of a Newbie: What mistakes did you make?

We have all been there. Just learning about guns, first time at the range, first time holding a gun, first time cleaning a gun.

What mistake you made still sticks with you to this day?

Share your experiences to help those who are just starting out know we all started at the same place. :slight_smile:


Holsters. Spent way too much time reading about what was new, cool, and hot on the internet and have quite a pile of holsters I’ll never want to use again for various reasons. Students however benefit from my mistakes, they go through boxes of them and I tell them what I do, did, or didn’t like about them.


I recently took a friend to the range who just purchased his first handgun. He always said he grew up with guns, but he was obviously really nervous about owning one. We went to the range and it was instantly apparent no one had ever taught him to properly treat a gun. A couple hours later he was still nervous but at least he wasn’t moving his head around to try and line up the sights.


Agree with @WildRose with the holsters. I’m sure we all have a box of lessons.

I would’ve saved a lot by getting a gun belt sooner. Sometimes it’s not the holsters it’s the belt.


Lesson 1)
Not getting a teacher sooner - My first ex and I bought a shotgun for home defense and I learned to shoot it on the trap range - trial and error. It wasn’t until much later that I got lessons and it changed my shooting MUCH faster than just struggling through it. Get A Coach. Coaching Matters. it’ll save you money, time, and the risk of doing unsafe things. Plus its way more fun to shoot when you’re better at it.

Lesson 2)
Don’t teach what you’re not qualified to teach. During the time I was learning to shoot the shotgun, I made the mistake of taking my never-shot-a-gun-either sister to the trap range. It was a BAD way to start her off for a lot of reasons. I didn’t know enough to teach her or set her up for success. It wasn’t safe, because I didn’t know how to teach her TO be safe, and I didn’t know how to coach a new shooter to keep them from doing unsafe things like finger-on-the-trigger when it shouldn’t be or keeping the muzzle down range. Plus I started her on the same gun I started on… a 12 gauge pump. It wasn’t a fun experience for her, and it was a scary experience for me because… NOT safe and I could see it wasn’t but I had no idea how to fix it. :scream::sob::grimacing::no_good_woman::no_good_woman::no_good_woman:
Eventually she learned to shoot competently and well enough to have fun, but it was a really rough start, and at my hands.
It’s part of why I’m passionate about teaching well - because I started so badly.
Now I really push people to start with a qualified trainer, coach or teacher. Your spouse / sweetheart / sibling / parent / uncle / neighbor may be a great shot (or maybe not as great a shot as they think) but unless they’re a firearms teacher… get a firearms teacher.
and yes… I’m a fan of taking people in your sphere of influence to the range so they can try shooting, especially when they’re in a teachable moment and you can change their views… but I say that with trepidation as well, always remembering how that was the first time I took my sister shooting. If you’re going to take friends, and you’re not a teacher, think about inviting the most experienced (pro or amateur) teacher you know to go with you.


Hand grip, and thumb placement, two whammies.

.44mag handgrip and thumb position both bad wound up with a split thumbnail.

Glock 17L bad thumb position slide bite resulted.


Those two scars on my left thumb from a poor grip. One of those it only happens once lessons!


Youch! I dont have any slide bite scars, but I’ve got a scope scar in my right eyebrow… last time I ever crawled up the stock! The problem was the scope wasn’t set up for me, it was someone else’s rifle and didn’t fit me… and it bit :dizzy_face: :face_with_head_bandage: :expressionless:

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That is the beauty of the Red Dot! My bug out bag has Kel-Tec Sub 2000 with a red dot zeroed at 50 yards. Never close enough to the optics to get a black eye.


To quote one of the best operators I ever knew, “Never bet your life on a set of batteries”.


The iron sights still work … just in case!


My Vortex Spitfire 3x works with and without batteries. I just like with batteries better and I go have a Vortex spare battery keeper mounted on the firearm as well


As a Newbie conceal carrier, I’m conflicted on whether it’s appropriate to or not to inform friends or family that I am carrying when I enter their home. I don’t mean announcing it to everyone but, informing the homeowner off to the side. My sister-in-law offer me this courtesy some time ago. She is licensed to carry concealed. I assured her it was fine to have the firearm in our home. At the time I was not a CHL holder. However, I also mentioned that she didn’t have to tell me but I thanked her.

Now that I am carrying, I wonder if I should offer the same courtesy. I do have some family members who do not like the idea of a gun being in their home. This may be a Newbie mistake but currently I lock away the firearm before entering their “castle”. I liken it to entering a school premise or other prohibited facility.

I’m sure there are others out there in the USCCA community who have considered this topic. What are your thoughts, insights?

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I avoid those places that prefer I not carry - those with a legal basis, those who post, etc.

If I am visiting someone who doesn’t know I carry and I don’t know if they mind, I just don’t tell them. Concealed Carry is Concealed Carry. I don’t give away my status and I don’t cede my safety just in case someone else might not like it.


@Eddie4 I have a rule in my house that has been adopted by many other houses. It goes something like this…

I’m having a party. I meet folks at the door. In a jovial manner I say FOOD goes on the dining room table. BEER goes in the coolers out back. GUNS go on top of the fridge and CAR KEYS go in the basket.

Story here:

My FIL was stationed overseas when I met my wife and as such he was not around to meet me or my & her friends. There were 8 or 10 of us over one evening when he decided that DC to VA Beach was a doable run between his commitments. We were all partying our tails off in the back yard when I came in for a refill There was this guy staring at the top of the fridge pulling down each one of our respective carry pieces and giving them the once over. It was literally the first time I had laid eyes on him. I was standing there with an empty drink in my hand looking at what was soon to be my FIL with probably 12+ guns stacked up on top of the fridge.

To this day I don’t know if he was wanting to sh!t or go blind but I kinda think he was petty happy that his daughter was dating a gun toting squid with lots of gun toting friends.




Welcome @Eddie4, glad you’re here. Its come up in a couple of threads… I’ll see if I can find them and tag you as there was quite a bit of useful discussion.

My take on this is it’s my private business, so I keep it private. If they’re been vocally anti-gun, I may decline the invitation, and depending on the circumstances I may, or may not, tell them why. I may say “I’d like to attend, however, you’ve been clear that you don’t feel comfortable having firearms in your home, and I don’t feel comfortable being unable to provide protection for myself and my family, so we won’t be able to attend.” It can open up an opportunity for conversation.

If there were some reason I would be staying with them, and would have to leave firearms in their home (say, I had to go to a federal office), I’d be more likely to discuss it.

When I joined USCCA one of the things I received was a range bag. I thought, oh wow… nice bag, I guess…
I got it and it turned out to be pretty well built; I figured it would be good enough to use it as intended, loaded it up with a few boxes of ammo and left it on the kitchen floor next to my other range bag with all the things I’ve carried for years.

Well time passes, the bags are on the floor and I’ve got cats. My youngest, my smallest, decides He likes the bag, sniffs it, walks around it, jumps into it. I’m here thinking, cool, I’ve got a cat with good taste, and it seems to please him so… think nothing of it for a few weeks of day in day out.

TODAY, I walk up to the bags, and think I’m going to reach in and check it. First thing I pull out is a duck cloth ditty bag that I’ve filled up with a trauma first aide kit and … its… wet. W-T-F! I roll it in my hands, it’s not really wet, it’s tacky damp. Bring it up toward my chest and the smell tells the tale… or should I say tail?
I take the bag, the inner bag, and the ditty into the laundry room and, yep… wet all the way down. Boxes of ammo are damp soggy, and the odor is pure male CAT…

I’ve soaked in oxy clean deep rinse soak and now it’s Woolite. I have urine enzyme and freebreeze for when everything finally dries.

Oh? and the range bag? I’m thinking the structural padding in it is good stuff. It seems to withstand complete soaking without losing it’s form. Looks like this range bag is quality product. Good job USCCA.

… me and what cats think about bags on the floor? …not so much…


My first time cleaning a non barrel bushing 1911, I put a very nice idiot scratch on my semi custom gun…

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You got a range bag? All I got was this lousy T-Shirt. :slight_smile: