What advice would you give a new gun owner?


My advise is wait until you have taken a course in Self Defense from a Certified Instructor and discuss with the instructor what gun will be best for you and your circumstances. You may want/need more than one gun - Home, carry, compete, etc.


Dry fire and establish stance, grip, front sight focus before going to the range the first time. Recommend Mike Ox 21 Dry Fire and dryfirecards and/or Chris Sajnog’s website.


I’ll echo most of what has already been said. Safety first, get training. I will always tell them to get additional training from a professional.

I live in a fairly liberal area and gun talk will frequently get the side-eye. As a result the couple new shooters I’ve come across and been able to help are typically starting from really zero as they don’t have anyone to even ask “where is the local gun store”.

As a result, the conversation usually flows through some or all of these topics

  • What kind of gun do I get? (or… i have this gun already, did I pick a good one?)
  • How much does a good gun cost?
  • How much do I need to spend for all the ancillary gear? (range bag, ear/eye pro etc)
  • Where do you keep it?
  • They usually have a ton of “what if this happens…” questions
  • I will always bring up legal repercussions
  • Where can I find out more about XYZ? (depending on the topic I’ll refer them to various forums, websites, or youtube channels)

The first time I take them to a range, I will usually let them borrow a set of my ear/eye pro and I tell them to wear a baseball cap (and explain why), and not to wear scoop/v-neck shirts (and explain why).

I will also either loan or give them a copy of Andrew Branca’s the Law of Self Defense book, which is invaluable for conceal carriers and also for defense inside the home. I also send them to the Active Self Protection youtube page.

If they are thinking of carrying, I will always recommend carry insurance. Carrying has its own rabbit hole of questions and conversations.

  • Which holster do you use?
  • Where do you carry on your person? (they are always shocked i carry appendix)
  • Do you carry extra mags? where? why? how many is enough?
  • Where you can/can’t carry a firearm
  • Where do you put it when you’re home?
  • How do you use the bathroom with it?
  • How do you handle car situations (which also falls into legal Qs around dealing with road rage)?
  • Do you need to get a whole new wardrobe? Can I conceal in my sweat pants/ suit/ business casual/ dress/ shorts?

Even more important than practice is mental preparedness and conditioning.

First and foremost decide under what conditions you would be willing to use deadly force knowing all of the ramifications for doing so and not doing so.

Next is always being aware of your environment and having a defensive mindset.

Everyone drives, most of us had driver’s ed and or at least one class later on in defensive driving. Apply the same principles and reasoning to self defense.

Always be aware of threats, opportunities, and have an escape plan. You’re always better off avoiding driving situations that put you at high risk for an accident and as risk increases the need for awareness and having an escape plan go up accordingly.

Apply the same to your defensive mindset.

When you plan an evening out, plan to avoid high risk areas and times.

If you must go into a high risk area or situation be prepared to react instantly to avoid, escape, or engage a threat once it materializes.


I got to spend several hours in the car with my granddaughter last weekend while we were going to pick up her new gun. Shes a new shooter so this thread is pretty much what we talked about. Safety rules, storage, how to carry, when to shoot and when to retreat and how to decide, places you cant carry, storage at home and in the car, backstop, over penetration, range etiquette, brandishing, assault distances, what you shouldn’t advertise about your carry status, discrete online discussion, assault distances and reaction time, accuracy drills, dry fire practice… pretty much every topic.


You sound like a great gramdma.

Nothing says “female empowerment” like a high level of competency and confidence with firearms.

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@Zee, you hit it right on the head! I recommend sitting down the whole family if this is a “new” addition to the family. Consider providing training the the whole family. Owning a firearm and the responsible use should become a daily ritual of reading and educating yourself on the the handgun laws, politics and unfortunately shooting (accidentals, homicides, etc.). Believe me, everytime there is a shooting of any kind, you will be asked about those shooting, etc. Most importantly, have fun. Owning a firearm can be a wonderful opportunity to teach your family members about being responsible and create lasting memories at the range or outings!


@Leonard yep, it is definitely a family thing with us. Our granddaughter a reformed city girl, now a solid country lass - 3 years ago she came to work on the farm for us. We’ve let her set her own pace about this… a couple of months ago she had a scary incident and asked to learn - with some trepidation I think. Now that she’s got 6 weeks of shooting under her belt, she’s gotten really focused on getting correct equipment, information, and skills. I have to say she’s quite impressed me with her appetite for information :smiley:

My hubby was a national-level competitor in IDPA and IPSC and was Special Forces in Vietnam - firearms are definitely his thing. I’m not nearly as experienced a competitor, but I’m a CPL instructor, so our focus is different but it works pretty well.

This particular trip was a girl’s day - me, the granddaughter, and the great granddaughter :smiley:

I don’t know how much the great granddaughter tracks, but she’s 5 and even if she doesn’t understand it all, some of it is no doubt soaking in. She very much takes the whole thing in stride, pink shooting earmuffs and all.

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Customer at my last job, we were talking and he said his new job requires him to carry a concealed gun and have his CHL among other things he does not currently have.

Chatted with him, my gun store of choice where he could get a good deal, affordable holsters, caliber and benefits, my personal preference and why, how and who to call for the CHL appointment, where to take the class, classes for introduction to concealed carry with range time, USCCA membership, general tips and such… accidentally went over my work order time frame by 30 minutes but it was worth it to give a new person a bunch if info and help h I’l m get going in the right direction.


I totally agree :slight_smile:
Its really fun to share that with new folks and I know it helps a lot of new-to-shooting women to see another women completely comfortable with the territory.
Going to the local range and gun store tomorrow to help a young gal I met a few weeks ago shop for her first gun!

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Learn about your gun, gun safety, basic disassembly and cleaning. Take a firearms class and practice, practice, practice. Both dryfire and at the range.


Personally I’d much prefer to teach women and kids than men. As men we’ve generally been endowed with a mindset that we always know it all when it comes to firearms and self defense even if we’ve never had any exposure to or training in either and that belief is fueled by age and testosterone levels.

It’s only after testosterone levels peak and begin to fall as we approach middle age that men become as a rule as receptive to training as women and kids.

That’s not “man bashing” by any means it’s simply a fact.

After three decades of experience as a trainer and instructor when it comes to males either get them started right before the age of 16 starting as early as possible or wait until they are past 35 and your job gets a whole, whole lot easier.


All very good basics. Unfortunately they don’t even begin to prepare the new shooter with an understanding of the when, how, and why much less the legalities of using a firearm in self defense.

Basic familiarization and competency with your chosen carry firearm are essential to keeping you alive in a fight but they do little to help one develop the mentality of a self defender or prepare you to be effective and lawful in your actions if you are ever put in a situation where you may have to decide to use it.

I do think the NRA basic pistol course is the perfect starting point for someone who is a complete blank slate and I wish it were a requirement in all states to have taken the course as an eligibility requirement for even applying for a carry permit.


The statement and question was:

Your friend just bought an awesome new gun that you two had talked about in the past.

What advice do you give them?

They are most likely no where near ready for a self defense class and should begin with basics.

Once they have the basics down I would direct them to a CCW class here in Illinois, I was trained by several active police and Swat trainers that use the USCCA platform.

After completing that I would suggest an advanced class, that covers the law a little better and also provides some close quarter drills with Air Soft pistols. It’s a much better hands on approach which I have followed.

I hope to start teaching but have an educational issue before I can get a state permit.


You followed what I consider to be the logical and wisest path.

The problem with the original question is that it’s a little vague in that it doesn’t establish whether or not the purchaser has ever had any prior experience or instruction.

With my generation in rural American it was pretty well a given that at least 90 % of the boys and over half of the girls would learn the basics of firearms safety and use growing up as firearms were simply a part of daily life and that learning about them was simply expected.

That hasn’t however been true in the cities as a general rule for over a century because since the end of the Civil War firearms ownership and use has mostly been seen as barbaric and related to crime in urban environments so firearms and their owners have been largely looked down upon by the majority of people in urban environments.

This is unfortunately perfectly understandable since if you live in a city the vast majority of new stories involving the use of firearms are going to be related to crime, or linked to a story claiming the police unjustly shot an innocent minority.

That’s why we fight every day a very deeply entrenched factually based bias when it comes to firearms and gun rights in urban America.


I think that’s because men are born with the John Wayne gene and women aren’t :laughing:
As a rule, I agree! I regularly see women out learn men on the range, especially early on

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I’ve been an instructor since 1981 in both the military and civilian life and have trained a lot of cops as well.

Women as a rule take to instruction and advance much faster than men.

They also tend to have much better eye hand coordination in my experience as well. The only negative I run into regularly with women is that they can have more problems initially with recoil and from the report of a handgun. Get them past those two little issues and it’s usually smooth sailing.

The toughest students for me are those that have a lot of prior experience but were never taught properly. “Untraining” and then retraining is far more difficult than starting off with a blank slate because there is so much muscle memory involved.

The intuitive method USCCA uses was very difficult for me because I had four decades of prior training before taking the first USCCA course which required me to basically have to forget all of my prior training and all of the muscle memory I had built over the decades. I see this quite commonly with students as well.


I 100% agree with you on that! Bad habits are worse than no habits when someone is trying to learn something.


I am a coach for motorcyclists on racetracks. The same holds true there. Trying to get people to break old habits is much more difficult than working with someone starting with a clean slate. A challenge is a good thing, right?


@Brad it is :grin: that old dog with hard to change habits will make you a more resourceful teacher, that’s for sure.