New Shooters, please share your stories

The community here is very diverse. We have Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, and Independents. We have people of all backgrounds, of all states, and different points in our lives. We also have a very wide range of experience levels with firearms. Some of us have been around firearms our entire lives and some of us have only recently become gun owners. This thread is directed at the new firearms owners.

Would you be willing to share with the group your journey? I really would love to hear how you decided to become a gun owner. What pre-conceived notions and assumptions did you have, both true and not true? What was your experience like in purchasing your first firearm? How did you learn to use it, and what did you think you knew on firearms that ended up not being true? Also, what can the firearm community do better for new shooters?

I know I am asking a lot, but I think there is a lot the firearm community can learn from new shooters so that we can be more welcoming, attract new shooters, and to be more supportive in order to create lifelong shooters.


I believe this tread may have been started on another topic let me check and get back to you.

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I absolutely would. I actually wrote a book on it. “From anti-gun to pro-gun and beyond”, which I later created a website to share everything I learn along the way. Just let me know if you want me to write the reply here or somewhere else


My story us very simple…
Veni, Vidi, Vici…
I lived without firearms for over 30 years. Handled and shot rifle for 2 hr during Scout Camp and one more time visiting local Military Unit during High School.
Then I came to :us: and my peaceful life flipped upside down.
I was threatened with handgun, my son was beaten and robbed.
That was the moment I decided to buy firearms and protect my and my Family’s lives.

For me… it’s sad. I was born and raised without firearms and never needed them until … yes… until I started living among them.
My Parents taught me to be proficient in anything I’m doing, so after few months my firearms started to be a natural part of me.


Thank you, been poking around the site and actually just ordered your book.


The tread was called “ What were your building blocks”

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Well my story starts out being around guns my hole life. My dad was a carrier. He had rifles and a handgun. It was a 357 Magnum revolver. Not sure the make,model. I remember him teaching me the rules of a gun, and how to shoot a rifle. Then he passed and I was in the real world alone. My dad passed in 2005. So I was 25 when I lost my dad, my hero. My mom sold his 357 Magnum. And I never seen it again.

Now let’s fast forward. For the past 13 years I never felt I need to carry. Never felt unsafe. Till the beginning of the year. After the pandemic started, I started feeling uneasy. Then the media started on systemic racism and all the other things happening. I looked at my wife and I said it’s time. Now I already had my 10/22 Ruger long rifle and my Marlin model 60 long rifle. So my wife said we already have home defense. I was like sweetheart, a 22 isn’t the most sufficient round out there. It’s liable just to tic somebody off.

In my mind even before George Floyd happened, it was already going south. People we’re jobless and running out of food. So theft was already on the rise. I told my wife, I go to all these big cities like Chicago, Toledo, Detroit, Cincinnati, Decatur and Covington. These are the places that are going to be affected the most. So crime will go up there first. So I need to be able to protect myself. So finally I convinced her it would be ok.

So then I started carrying and started feeling confident. Started strutting a little bit. it felt good to be the protector of myself and my family. And even a month ago I almost got carjacked in Toledo Ohio and if it wasn’t for the gun the situation could have ended differently but they ran off when they seen it and that was that. After that I decided I needed insurance, I had already been looking into it since I bought my first handgun. But that incident push me to doing it.

After I got you a USCCA I started reading and watching videos and looking through blogs, I really started getting into it. Then I asked a question on a blog and got an answer that I never imagined. I asked about changing my trigger because it was too stiff and too long. The answer I got wasn’t about a kit or adjustments I can make, it was look before you do that you should understand that a prosecutor could use that against you if you ever had to use your weapon in self-defense. :exploding_head: I was shocked, confused and had no idea how to respond to this

So I go back looking through training videos again and start looking at other videos that were talking about in case you have to use, you should know this and that. All of a sudden my confidence started to shrink. I was like is it worth using a gun to defend yourself if you can spend the rest of your life in prison just for doing so. Then my wife told me something I will never forget. As long as your following the laws and you think what can I do to get out of this without using my gun, even if there is no way out of it without using your gun, as long as you tried everything possible not to have to use it, when you do use it you know you use it for the right reasons.

So I have studied and studied. I’ve been on this community forum asking questions, getting advice and rebuilding my confidence. I think that USCCA and the community that it has built has everything to offer a new shooter like myself. I am thankful and proud to be a member of USCCA. The only thing that I think USCCA could have is a live chat area. I know that you can chat with a staff member anytime and ask questions but I mean a live chat to connect to other members on a daily basis. Otherwise I think you USCCA is perfect.

Sorry if this was so long and hopefully I answered the questions you wanted. And if there’s anything you want to add I’m always up for advice.


On the way. Looking forward to reading it.



My Story begins early on in life but doesn’t really begin until the late 90s. I grew up in a home where my parents had what I refer to as a safe weight. Although they didn’t have a safe, instead it was a drawer. They kept what I know now to be a 38 revolver in their dresser. It was never talked about or even shown. I only found it by accident while playing one day. I won’t tell you how lucky I was that I was alone and not with friends that day.

It wasn’t until the late 90s when the Columbine shooting happened. It was at that point I realized I was anti-gun. Yet thinking back, I was never anti-hunter only handguns and sporting rifles. Yes, I realize sporting rifles can be used for hunting. I remember my wife and I talking about the irresponsible parents that allowed their children to gain access to the weapons used in the shooting.

The media at the time and years since only reinforced my beliefs. I probably would have stayed anti-gun if it wasn’t for the fact that I went to college late in life. It was early on in college when I realized a lot of the general & psychology courses would make me look at two points of view. I would often start with a paper that supported my current point of view. Then I would be required to write a paper on the opposite point of view with facts backing up their claims.

I had noticed that on a few occasions my opinion on certain matters would change based on what I found out during my research. Now we were not allowed to use Wikipedia, or News to show facts only researched materials and articles written by authorities in the field. It was this type of research that made me realize I had a lot of views that may not be 100% accurate.

Near the end of my master’s degree in IT, the Sandy Hook massacre happened. I think it was the first time since 9/11 that I had tears in my eyes watching the breaking news. I knew at that point; something had to change. It was not enough that everyday someone is being killed in Detroit, it took children dying to bring me out of my coma of everyday life.

I wanted to know what laws could stop this in the future, what could people do to prevent it, and what could I do to keep my own family from being a victim of guns. Instead of taking my usual, this is what I believe to be true and agreeing with the masses. I decided to approach it from a college standpoint. I researched it like as if I was writing a paper.

My findings were mixed at first. At face value there is a good argument for and against guns. What I found was this was going to take more research than I could do in a week or even a month. Unfortunately, I kept this information in my head instead of writing it down, which I now regret. I spent the better part of 4 years researching this on and off. Meaning It wasn’t that I spent every waking moment but instead I would spend hours here and there digging through data.

I found widely that at face value data gathered by anti-gun and pro-gun advocates. Was posted with an agenda and left out critical data or included data to make their stats look better. For example, Anti-gun advocates like to include data that involves shooting that also took place in the home where only 4 people were available to be shot. Then compare that weapon against the AR-15 in an area where there was 100 people available. In their conclusion they determined that the AR-15 killed more people.

Don’t get me wrong there are plenty of pro-gun advocates that are doing the same thing in the opposite direction. Which made my job of getting to a real solution that much harder. After years of research, I found overwhelmingly that the average gun owner was apart of the most law-abiding citizens in the nation. I also found that a lot of accidents and suicides by gun were preventable.

This is where my opinion of guns really started to change. I started to realize my own beliefs were not only misguided but, in some cases, just plain wrong. Lucky for me, I am not a person that only believes facts that I agree with. Even after my opinion changed, I was still not ready to become a gun owner, simply the fact that I knew I was no longer against it.

I realized that no law would have prevent a criminal who is willing to break the law to get a gun. For example, the Sandy Hook massacre, he killed his mother just to get the guns. So, what law would have prevented him from going to the school and completing his goal? My conclusion was nothing. Training would likely stop the rash buyer but not the criminal who is willing to get a gun by any means.

It was later that I started to see things take a bad turn in this country. It’s not that bad things weren’t happening before. Not to mention, once a door opens it can’t be closed. Meaning, that we can never go back to a better time, if there is such a time. I think much of my decision to own a gun had a large part to do with age and caring about the life my grandchildren would have to face. That and the real reality that after I finished college, I was disabled from multiple back surgeries and herniated disk going all the way up my spine.

My ability to defend my family is now greatly diminished. There was still the issue of bringing all this up with my wife. To my surprise, her finding out she had lupus and having multiple neck, back and shoulder surgeries from work injuries herself. Left her feeling the same way I was feeling. She also started to see a need for self-defense.

That is how we decided to become gun owners. Of course, that was only beginning of our journey. However, when would be the right time and when could we afford it. I started to try and find training videos online to switch from gun data, to gun use. Coming from an anti-gun background, safety was our biggest concern. Not knowing what information was good and what was bad. I was required to do a lot of research on the subject. When I say I have 100s of hours invested in gun handling and safety. It is probably a very low estimate of how much time I have spent on research.

I got lucky and ran across a guy’s videos by the name of Massad Ayoob. Now I never heard of him or any other quality trainer at this point, so I was skeptical at first. That was until I did some research on him. I don’t think I need to tell anyone in the gun community what I found; I think we all know.

Overwhelmingly, I realized I would never be able to afford to own a gun. Not because of the price of a gun but because of the aftermath, if I ever was forced to use it. It wasn’t until one of his later video’s that he mentioned something called self-defense insurance. For me that was an ah-ha moment. I only found two at first, the USCCA and the NRA program. The USCCA was affordable at its lowest level so I joined.

I soaked up all the USCCA’s online training that came with the membership and read through a lot of the blogs and forums. There videos on YouTube led me to another trainer named Mickey from carrytrainers. I even started to carry around one of my Grandson’s toy guns to practice grip, stance and trigger control.

Then I started to research guns based on reliability and I am sure almost everyone knows. The Glock will come up first on most searches for that trait alone. So, it was set I put a Glock 17 on layaway online. The payment was cheap, and it had a front night sight, 3 extra mags and a speed loader. Just what I thought I needed to get started. I am sure everyone reading this is cringing at this point. I realize now the mistake I made but not until after it was done.

Within a couple more weeks I realized I wanted to conceal carry as well. I researched concealing the full-size Glock and realized I bought the wrong gun. Unable to cancel my law-a-way without losing the couple hundred dollars I put down. I knew I needed a different gun. This time I did a little more research and realized I couldn’t just buy a gun online without feeling it in my hand.

I knew I wanted something that could carry a decent number of rounds, so I decided it had to be a double stack semi-auto. The consensus leaned me toward the Glock 19 or the S&W M&P 2.0 Compact. That is what I went looking for, and only one local gun shop had both. My wife and I then took a trip to check them out. I had a harder time with the Glock 19’s mag release so I decided on the M&P. We both like the feel of the M&P over the Glock as well.

It wasn’t until after our purchase that we realized my wife was unable to rack the slide. Again, too late to return the gun. We went to another store to look at some revolvers and the guy behind the counter mentioned two guns they had. The 9mm Shield EZ and the Ruger LCP II lite rack .22. My wife loved the .22 but for self-defense I didn’t think this would be a good option. Either way it didn’t matter we were unable to afford another gun.

After holding a single stack gun in my hand, I also realized that all the research in the world can not tell you what gun will work best for you. I realized I could always carry more magazines if the number of rounds were low. Keep in mind I know all the statistics on whether reloading would even be needed but it was a comfort thing. With my hands, I should have gone with a single stack and I should have realized my wife and I would need two different guns. I still plan on buying her that .22 for our trips to the range.

She has chosen not to carry, and I think in large part it is due to our first experience at the range. Everywhere you read it will tell you, that a 9mm has very little recoil comparatively to larger calibers. While this may be true, it is not true to a new shooter. I had shot a gun before about 27 years ago. My wife never had before this day. I took 5 shots and was surprised at the lack of power I had vs the gun. I then let her shoot and her words and I quote “NO,NO, NO, NO, take it”.

That was after one shot. I kept shooting that day, which made my wife determined to try a couple more times. My wife is 5’ tall 105lbs and has lupus. Her grip strength is not what it should be. Let’s face it neither was mine at the time. I spent 3 weeks dry firing nightly before the trip to the range, and I will tell you. You can’t explain grip in a video, or even in person for that matter. You must experience the pressure you need. Now, today it doesn’t feel like I use as much pressure as I did at first

I know however, that is not true. I am just much more accustomed to my grip and I learned how I needed to grip it. That said, yes you can teach how to place your hands and fingers, but I don’t think you really grasp everything from instruction that you get from experience. In the end, I still practice nightly, with a weekly trip to the range. By coincidence alone I bought a gun when Covid first hit and found training was not available locally.

I was left with gathering information from trainers online until I was finally able to take my CPL class. The funny thing was the instructor handed out the test as part of the initial paperwork and upon going through it. I had already read so many books and did so much online research that I was able to pass the written part before the class even started. My instructor, let’s just say, when they say you lean things from even bad instructors, it’s true and leave it at that.

Because I started with the teaching of Massad Ayoob and the USCCA, I approached concealed carry and owning a gun from a legal standpoint. I also realized that no one should have to go through all the digging I did to get information. I wrote a book on my journey “From Anti-Gun to Pro-gun and beyond. I then created a website, to put all this information into one place I am still month’s away from getting caught up with what I know today. I am sure I am years away from having a fully comprehensive website. My goal at this point is to become a trainer, an online FFL dealer for the website, and a dream of one day having a local indoor/outdoor range in my area.

To say guns changed my life would be an understatement. I may not be able to agree with all the political side of guns. I agree & believe in gun owner unity. For the first time in over 10yrs I am seeing a way for me to get back to work. I even helped a USCCA trainer get started with his own website at . I want to help others in my situation and help them to find what It took me years to learn.

My journey was a 6-year journey to gun ownership. Which is only the start of it. I absorb information like a sponge, and I keep an open mind to all views. Even when I know the information, they are giving is wrong. I try to understand why they believe it to be true. The first mistake I made after owning a gun, I met a very angry person who felt chastising and belittling was the best way to teach me about my mistake.

It was not a pleasant experience, nor was it one I would recommend people to use with a new shooter. Lucky for me, I had learned some de-escalation techniques, and recognized some physical signs that allowed me to end it without incident. Even though they seemed set on escalation. There is a lot of information out there that has used data to support their point of view. Instead of gearing their point of view based on the data.

I am already saving for I.C.E training, my instructor course, and hopefully Massad Ayoob instructor course one day. Being a part of something this important and with so much to continuously learn, I feel like a little kid in the candy store. I can’t wait to try it all.

I doubt anyone made it this far but if you did, I thank you for reading my story. From an Angry anti-gun stance to a happy pro-gun stance I thank you.


Roger Thornton II


Thank you guys, That really means a lot.


I think that was my biggest shock when starting to look at being a gun owner. The misconception I had that laws, like stand your ground and castle doctrine, are not a blanket coverage. I just finished one of Massad Ayoobs books showing multiple cases where gun owners had done the right thing and was prosecuted based on a belief or over zealous prosecutor. Even Attorney Andrew Branca goes to great lengths to warn gun owners about the legal ramifications of actually using the gun can cause. The trigger weight was something Massad Ayoob stated as being indefensible in court.

I think most people don’t understand the risk we take just to protect our families.


Interesting story my brother, I grew up in one of the worst neighborhoods in Bronx, NYC. I think about it now and the reason i am still alive today is a praying grandmother. She raised us all me and my cousins. At the young age of 12 I discovered my uncle kept a gun in the house. I am sure back then there was no safety training on it or even a safe to keep it in. It was in a shoe box. If grandma had to use that thing it was point and shoot. I remember it was a revolver which was silver in color and had white grips. I used to ask my grandma why my uncle had a gun in the house and she would always answer “just in case”. She only spoke Spanish my grandma. I grew up around street gangs in our neighborhood and watched them rumble from the 2nd floor apartment window. I wondered how I made it to High School and graduated yet alone become a Police Officer/Detective in one of the highest crime cities. It was a praying grandmother, so in short, I was street trained. Just wanted to share that with you since you have been so open with the family brother.
Johnnyq60 brother in arms
2nd Amendment supporter
Carry On.


About the age of liking girls, my dad had me take a gun safety class to get my hunting licence. He had me study the game rules avidly. He would drill me with questions all the time. My brothers and I would have shooting competitions against each other. A six penny nail in a board at 20 feet to see who could drive the nail first ? This was done with our 22’s. Then we went to tossing cans in the air and shooting them while in the air. When it came hunting season, I had to trail with my dad while He showed me things to look for and how to move through the woods… When he felt you were good to go on your own he would test your skills on finding your way to a point with a compass. If you made it out of the woods at the end of the day you would be able to go hunting with your gun. The memories of three teenage kids snugged together with dad driving at three A.M… in the front of the truck headed to Winston Creek, Mount Saint Helen area in Washington State are forever in-bedded in my memories.


Mine started in September 12th 2001, when I bought my Taurus 357 8 shot revolver. From there on it was a constant process of learning to shoot it and take care of it. Fast forward to March 2018 when the wife bought me a CCW class for my birthday. At that point I knew I was into the gun culture and community. Then I finally got my LTC in June of this year thanks to the current climate in the Nation and joined USCCA in July. Still learning and absorbing a lot of knowledge from this great community and go the range about twice a month. I’m still a relatively newbie when it comes to concealed carry but it absolutely gets more comfortable every day.


My first experience with a gun was in 1979 I joined the air force . The M16 and the 38 was what we trained with.
After 21 yrs I retired and never used a gun again. This year the changes that are occurring in these United States has perk my interest and given me a need to arm myself. So back to the range I go. I have been reading post and like a sponge absorbing knowledge. So nice to be a part of this family.


Shot .22 rifles a little bit as a ten-year-old on my uncle’s property in rural Mendocino County, California.

Didn’t touch a gun for thirty years after that.

Went shooting in 2005 with a friend from work. He had a 1911, a .357 revolver, and rented a small Glock .45. Did not really enjoy shooting any of them - especially the .357.

Didn’t touch a gun for fifteen years after that.

On 5/31/20 the rioting came very close to my place of business. Were it not for the intimidation factor some neighboring shopkeepers wielding AR-15’s, our entire street might have burned down. Local media minimized the incident and national media virtually ignored it.

I decided it was time to buy a gun.

Since then, I have acquired five handguns and a rifle, joined the NRA and USCCA, got my Arizona Concealed Weapons permit, go to the range to practice three days a week - and enjoy it immensely.

Now I just wonder why I wasted all those years… :slightly_smiling_face:


Welcome to the family brother and god bless you. Keep on shooting and have fun doing it.

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Fun topic!

For me, carrying began after my daughter turned about 3-4. I was training in Krav Maga and during a class we had a mock demonstration where I had to defend myself and someone with me against 2 or more attackers. IT was then that I learned how difficult it was to effectively prevent anyone from gaining a position and striking the person with me. I was an advanced fighter and there were moments where I could see that the person with me might still be in harms way. I considered the power of a single punch or kick to a child like mine could potentially be lethal and I needed a better way to protect my daughter when we walked together so that no matter what, I could defend her (and myself) from attack. While I still continued training in Krav Maga, I began to take the necessary steps to get my concealed carry, which took nearly a year by itself because of the state I live in.

Once I got through the background checks, interviews, investigations, residence verification, had friends and family contacted, dealt with their skepticism and disapproval, took the class to show competence, and paid for everything, I finally received my silly little plastic card that meant the world to me. I literally had to fight the urge to show it off to everyone because I was sooo proud of the effort it took to get it. At the time, I only had a single sub compact pistol…a Kahr CW9, and some random IWB holster. Before the day was over, I took my instructors advice to do my walmart/target walk and parked in the parking lot for about 5 min building up the courage. Finally I stepped out of the car, spent the time walking from my car to the front door constantly fidgeting with my shirt (exactly what we aren’t supposed to do) and stepped inside the store. I felt like every eye was on me. I felt more nervous than when I rappelled down a rope into a war zone. It was unreal how nervous I was walking up and down each aisle knowing I had a pistol on my side. I didn’t even have a round chambered because I was sure I could chamber a round if need be. It took probably half the store till i started to relax and grew in confidence that people were not looking at me and knew I had a pistol, they were just glancing at me because I was near them. By the end of the walk, I was much more confident and much more relaxed.

Fast forward about 1 year and I was holding my daughter in my arms during a brief run to the store for food and walking up to the aisle with her in my arms and didn’t notice her foot had lifted my shirt exposing my pistol. This apparently came as a GREAT shock to the 2 women with kids standing near me. They both gasped which drew my attention only to see their concerned faces after we met eyes, then they glanced at my belt area. Immediately I knew what had happened and adjusted my shirt to again conceal my pistol. One of them asked, “Police officer?” hoping that I was not some lunatic with a gun holding some random child. I just smiled and told them to have a nice day…never answering their question. Since that day, I’ve made it a point to carry my daughter on my other side to avoid the same error.

I started this journey as someone who could always defend himself. Before Krav Maga I was well trained in Judo. The problem is, unless you’re in some hollywood movie where people come at you one at a time, real life is messy and I’ve been in enough altercations to know I could potentially have 2 or more people attacking me at the same time and there is very little I can do to prevent someone from throwing a potentially lethal blow at my daughter just to help take me down. While I’ve never really been for or against guns in general up to that point…it became clear to me that the ONLY tool I could use to ensure the fight stays safely away from my child when she’s with me is a gun. People against firearms like to make false assumptions like “you can just walk away”, “you can call police”, “you can swing your bag/purse/etc at them”, “you can scream/yell and scare them” and more to suggest you don’t need to have a gun. In every case, the nonsense is purely that…nonsense, spoken by a naive person who has no clue what they’re talking about. I’m trained in multiple forms of self defense. I have never been scared for myself even when I faced a guy with a knife who attacked me many years ago and another who used a bottle. It comes down to my fear is based on education and the knowledge as someone who IS trained and knowledgeable in this area. As the old saying goes, ignorance is bliss…and most people are blissfully ignorant with regards to personal safety.

As a side note, I never liked my Kahr CW9 pistol and to date, it’s the ONLY weapon I’ve ever been willing to sell. Hope you all who have one have better luck than I did.


As children, my brother and I were not allowed squirt guns, cap guns or any contraption that resembled guns. Conversation about firearms from our parents focused on the action of the user not the device. It was made clear…guns are not bad, people do bad things with them. Although growing up with no firearms in the house, we were considered neutral on the topic.

Having law enforcement experience some 25 years ago and it’s pursuit, I remained neutral on the topic of gun ownership.

Fast forward to today’s social, political and economic times, the responsibility to protect me and my family are mine and solely mine. Defunding the police, criminal justice reform and all other catchphrases are aimed at changing the behavior of system and not the bad people that exist. They are out there and growing in large numbers.

Situation awareness, avoidance of conflict as well as avoidance of certain areas aren’t enough to protect me and my family.


I’ve been around guns all my life. My dad and grandparents had rifles. I purchased a handgun last year for home defense. With the way this world has been going especially this year, I decided to get my concealed carry license and become more experienced with my weapon. I will say, it felt weird to carry a loaded gun on me the first few times I did. But I feel more confident that I can protect myself if necessary. I’m a lot more observant since I started carrying. I’m also taking self defense classes. I want using my weapon to be the last resort, only if there is no other alternative. Though I realize that may have to be a decision made quickly. I appreciate all the articles and videos from USCCA. I’m learning a lot.