New Shooter: Prioritizing your purchases?

You’ve narrowed it down to the perfect gun and you’ve finally found a place that has it in stock. After going through the necessary background checks you’re ready to take it to the range. But wait! You can’t just walk into a range holding a gun in your hand. You need a range bag. And you have to have hearing protection. And eye protection. Don’t forget the ammo. And after the range you have to clean your gun, so you’ll need brushes, solvents, lubrications, a cleaning mat, and tools (maybe).

Starting out can be overwhelming mentally and financially, but you don’t have to break the bank and buy everything right away.

What do you recommend new firearm owners purchase right away? (Besides training)


If you are talking about the basics, you have it right here. I once went to shoot in the desert and I only shot once and my ears were ringing for hours. No hearing protection at the time but I did learn my lesson there. As for eye protection, you have to see this one coming or else you can’t. When purchasing your ammo, buy a variety of types of ammo and try them out to see which one that performs the best. After it all said and done, clean your gun not just to get it clean but to get to know its functions and its parts.
Be safe, practice, get training.


Cleaning kit
Range bag
Ear protection
Eye protection

I believe these are all necessary before the first range trip.


Even before the gun I recommend a quick access gun safe.

  1. Safe
  2. Firearm
  3. Ammo
  4. Eyes/Ears
  5. Cleaning kit
  6. Print off targets from the many free sources.
  7. Double duty a backpack or small duffle for a range bag.
    Now you’re set for the range. @USCCA I would wonder why you wouldn’t clean the gun before going to the range.
    Then, once home and cleaned after your first trip,
  8. USCCA membership
  9. NRA membership
  10. laser insert for dry fire training.
    EDIT: There is no doubt that getting started is an expensive proposition. I would say the biggest oversight people make is 8-10, and most definitely to their detriment.
    The USCCA membership for anyone carrying is like the seat belt analogy. Say what you want about the NRA, but I don’t think we’d have concealed carry without them. And there is no nefarious organization–it’s me, it’s everyone else who understands how sacred the second amendment is.
    The laser trainer is an unsung skill builder that shows great results in improving trigger control and sight picture (the two biggest factors in accuracy). And given the cost of ammo, it’s a no brainer.

To the many of the above recommended items I would add an inexpensive outside the waist belt kydex holster.

For many years I used an old overnight travel bag for my range bag. Inexpensive but good quality ear muffs preferably doubled up with cheap foam ear plugs cost very little. You can use your own eyeglasses or cheap protective plastic glasses for eye protection. With a little looking around you could probably get most of what you really need for around $100. Aside from the quick access safe and the ammo (especially at today’s prices!) that is.


I have two range bags: the “small” bag that I take to the range for my usual practice sessions, and the “big” bag that I bring with me when I’m going to do detailed gun reviews and the like. Here’s what I keep in the small bag, which I consider to be the essentials.

  • Range bag
  • Identification, range membership card, license, badge, permit, and whatever else you need in this regard.
  • Eye protection
  • Hearing protection
  • Gun and ammo
  • First aid kit and tourniquet.
  • Targets. A stack of 9" paper plates from the local grocery store will do fine, or you can get something fancier
  • Staple gun and staples, or whatever you’ll need to affix your targets
  • Chamber flag. A small courtesy, but one that I like to see when we’re clearing the line to go cold
  • Bench pad. Some ranges have pretty gnarly looking benches, and I don’t like to set my guns on rough surfaces
  • A screwdriver and an aluminum rod to push a squib out.

What I DON’T recommend:

  • Cleaning kit. Cleaning your gun at a range generally isn’t a great idea, since little parts can bounce off into the nether regions of the range and you probably don’t want to be on your hands and knees there.
  • Tools other than the very basics. Like the cleaning kit: I don’t think most ranges are good places to spread out for a detailed cleaning or repair job.



#1 is a safe place to store the gun, especially if you have kids around.

There’s no reason you can’t walk into a range with a box or two of ammo and a hard shell case your gun came in (assuming it came in a hard shell case, if not, they’re like $5).

You’ll have to borrow, rent or buy hearing protection and eye protection from the range. If you want to save some cash you can just buy your own, but if this is your first time going, you don’t really need it. Pre Covid says, my local range just let you borrow eye and ear pro, now you have to buy it.

You can buy targets online for cheap, but you can get some targets from the range around $2-$3 a pop.

Get yourself a cheap cleaning kit with hoppes or CLP and you’ll be fine.

You can get the fact tactic-cool bags and accessories as you learn what you like :joy:

  • range bag
  • CLP
  • cleaning kit
  • eye and hear protection

forget the ammo, you won’t get it anyway, just go and clean your gun, wear protection and dry fire at home :wink:

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I recommend safety first.

  • Safe firearm storage (this means different things for different people in different environments)
  • Eye protection
  • Ear protection

The above can be had for $100 or less on top of the cost of the firearm. This is the first things you should buy IMO and should be the highest priority.

Targets aren’t very expensive, you can print your own or (my fave) use paper plates.

A spare backpack will work in a pinch as a range bag. I think pretty much everyone has a spare bag in a closet.

Ammo is next real priority. That ones really tough because of prices and availability today, but if you can swing a few boxes of different types to test with and maybe a range trip or two for practice.

I personally like cleaning a firearm before first use and after each range trip. And stripping a firearm to clean it can teach you a lot about that firearm. But if we’re being honest here, almost every duty pistol will go a looooong time in between cleanings if you really need it.

Once budget allows, buy more ammo… buy a cleaning kit (pre-made kit or pick your own pieces)… get a dedicated range bag… buy more ammo… add a first aid kit…

If they plan on carrying concealed, this next level is expensive as you need holsters (plural because it will be more than one until you find what works), training, and USCCA (or equivalent), and more ammo for more training.

Then… you buy more firearms :smiley: and repeat the process.


[emphasis added]

Plus, you can get them in all sorts of colors. I buy packs of 60 7” red paper plates for $4 or $5 at (wait for it)… Target. :rofl:


For trips to the range:
Eyes and ears.
Then, ammo. Lots of ammo.
Hoppe’s, CLP, etc.

All others are luxuries I can live without.

It depends on state and local laws, and what your range offers.
In my corner of the world:
A lockable case and a lock for transporting (most new guns come with them. The MTM 806 is a good inexpensive aftermarket one if needed)
My 'rona-fied range no longer provides hearing protection, so muffs (& plugs) are in order.
I come with built in eye protection, but if you don’t have appropriate specs, then there is that
My range has 'Bulldog" type clips to hold the targets, so no staple gun or tape unless I shoot elsewhere.
A bag of some sort to carry everything to range---- doesn’t have to be firearm specific
A 9mm pencil if the holes in your target aren’t in the right place. :laughing:
A cleaning kit–at the minimum—
a rag for wiping down fingerprints, oil—I prefer a well laundered cotton diaper (leaves no lint!)
a good rod with a patch loop
a silicone bronze bore brush
an old tooth brush
bottles of oil, solvent and a small tube of grease.
Some place to store your cleaning kit at home.
Someplace to securely store your pistol at home, that jives with the law.

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^^^ You’re right! I missed mentioning that step first! (Which means I’m out of practice and it’s been entirely too long since I’ve bought a new gun! :frowning: )


Yes, I also clean a new firearm before I take it anywhere. In addition to getting the factory gunk out and make sure everything is well lubricated, it helps me get familiar with field stripping the firearm in case there are issues the first time I shoot it.

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For someone wanting to purchase for the first time… I’d say, research and research! Get to know your state laws etc. area gun ranges and local shops. Look around and ask questions about pistols or rifles before you make your purchase. Spend some time researching about different pistols/rifles and make a mental or paper list of what you would like to purchase. With enough research anyone can feel more relaxed when you do get what you want. It can be overwhelming to think about it all when your a newbie but take your time research. All the fancy bags,expensive ammo etc. in the world won’t make you a better pistol/rifle owner… but practicing and researching on what you have will. Safety/knowledge is a must. Without it your only hurting yourself and potentially others you love.

A friend who shoots. Having a friend that shoots can do a lot to minimize the “financial impact” as well as the risk of not having what the shooter needs. For instance, after purchasing a firearm, the new shooter and friend can go back to the friends house to clean the firearms. There is an opportunity to teach how to do it correctly. There is also the chance that the shooting friend has some “extras” that the new shooter can have to start. If nothing else, the friend can advise exactly what the new shooter needs, thus helping to lower the cash output by advising exactly what is needed and preventing spending money on things not needed. Same with things like range bags, eye and ear protection, etc. So, find a friend who shoots.

And if you are an experienced shooter who doesn’t have a new shooter friend, you need to go out and find a new shooter to mentor.


New shooter? The number one item has to be a new shooter class even before setting foot on the firing line to assure a safe start. Everything else mentioned in the many responses is essential too. Check with the range to see if they have the new shooter course offered there. As a side note, maje sure that the protective Eyewear is rated for high impact and not just some cheap run of the mill plastic eyewear. There’s a big difference between eyewear that meets ANSI Safety standards and “fashion” eyewear. Please consider also getting ear protection that offers the highest NRR, noise reduction rating available. I prefer inserts that are corded and reusable. I also wear hearing protective ear muffs over my inserts for additional noise reduction. Please take this into account for muffs and the earpiece stems of the safety glasses as they often cause a gap in the earmuffs seal to the head. Any gap will severely reduce their effectiveness. Choose eye protection that is safety rated and has the smallest and thinnest section that goes under the muff. Alse, the additional protection NRR of muffs over is not derived NY adding their respective NRR’s as ith field effectiveness is only increased by adding 5, yup only 5, NRR’s to the NRR’ of the inserts. Why? It’s all based on sound pressure levels called decibels (dbl. Mathematically speaking the level measurements are based upon a log based 10 math and formulas where an increase of only 3db actually halves the sound pressure level reaching your ear so 5db is a pretty big increase. OK, ok, how do I know this, years of training, experience, education, and attaining certifications in industrial hygiene (CIH) and Certified Safety Professional (CSP) professions. Yup, with all this knowledge and at least $5 I can get a beer at the bar, no wait, it’s $10 now.

Get your gear and train but practice only the good skill sets, as those are what to shoot for. Practice bad begets bad skills.

Practice often so that your defensive firearm skills become habitual and instinctive. Never stop learning and join organizations such as USCCA and the NRA.

Ear muffs aren’t that expensive. Double up with a pack of 20 sponge ear plugs for $4
Home Depot protective goggles are cheap and required too. Cleaning kit with CLP or Hoppes should suffice to start. And a bag you can use to load it all in to take to the range.
$20 to $30. Maybe $40


Any old backpack or bag available. No need for a hard gun case. Bring lube. A toothbrush might come on handy but not necessary. If you thoroughly clean your gun and lube it properly you’ll be fine. But bring lube anyway.

Many ranges provide a target or more. Wear closed toe shoes. Try to go to the range when fewer or no “fires” (aka:shooters) are present to distract you.

A simple medical kit can be useful, but you can add female hygiene products to plug or cover wounds. Tape too. Clotting solution and simple bandaids as well. The range probably has stuff already but it’s good to be prepared. You can improvise a tourniquet in emergency provided you know first aid. But I recommend getting several high quality ones ($25 or more) to put in all of your vehicles, house and range bag and first aid kits. My niece’s husband saved his life not to long ago after nearly cutting his arm off accidentally. Still haven’t heard details on that story. I need to bite the bullet and by new first aid kits and a traveling first aid kits for all of my cars. And particularly an EDC first aid kit as well. Most people I know don’t carry it on them but store it in their vehicle.

If you don’t have experience shooting you need someone to train you and take a course so you don’t hurt someone else or yourself. Accidents happen. I just acquired a new nightmare story that leads me to say you should take the new to guns course first rather try to depend on someone who says they can teach you. I’ll save that for another time. Don’t be scared. Take your time. Watch training videos. But most importantly take a class from a certified/licensed trainer. It’s worth the money. I neglected teaching my children how to use a gun and safety because I avoided getting one. Another confession for another time. My son got me back in the game because of his wife’s family. A long story involving violent incidents in my youth. I’ll tell this story later as well.

Be safe and by all means have fun.

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I’ve only been shooting for about three years. I wish someone had told me I needed:

Good ear protection (noise cancelling muffs)
Eye protection
A decent sized sling backpack
Caliber-specific cleaning kits
A good supply of ammo.
Cheap paper targets

Ignore the guys at the range with all the name brand crap. Get whatever you can afford, that’s what 90% of us are doing anyway. Work your way into proficiency. Practice, practice, practice. Train, train, train.

After a while, you can expand your knowledge. That’s what I did. Within a year, I was changing parts on handguns and building my own custom 10/22 for giggles.

And then, one day, you’ll sign in to the range, greet the owner and the rangemaster, set your stuff down and wait for cold range to post your targets and you’ll know exactly what you’re doing.

Did anyone mention a good holster, belt, and magazine pouch?

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