Training and Test Firing

cheney's hunting game As we've said before, a firearm is a tool just like a power tool or car and all are dangerous if mishandled. You should not operate a firearm solo until you’ve received instructions on safe handling and fired under supervision. Even experienced shooter still need to follow safe handling and usage rules. Remember what happened when Dick Cheney failed to follow basic hunting safety rules?

boyfriend does not equal firearms instructor If you don't have a knowledgeable friend to get you started, look for National Rifle Association (NRA) certified instructors and courses, including basic operation and safe handling, cartridge reloading, personal protection and safety. Descriptions and locations can be found at NRA Instructors . Courses are at least 3 hours long and are not free. You can also contact a local shooting range and ask about a personal instruction.

firearms training Many companies offer firearms training. Some are better than others; always ask for references. Also, the culture and orientation are important; some are geared toward corporate protection; some toward hunting or personal protection; and some are "hard core". If you are unsure about a course, talk with someone there to get a better feel for it. Keep looking and asking and you should be able to find competent training in a comfortable atmosphere close to home.

Consider taking your state's hunter's education course and test. Even if you don't plan on hunting, this is usually a cheap alternative for good basic knowledge about guns, safety, an appreciation for hunting as a sport and wildlife management. Many states offer distance learning, here are a few examples:

Today's Hunter offers hunter's licence education materials for 25 states with nicely done graphics and animations. Arrangement of the curriculum varies by state, but each covers similar overall content. Here is a link to the animation for a semi-automatic hand gun from the Washington State Hunter Safety Course. also offers hunter's licence education materials for the US and Canada. Here is a link to a fun interactive target shooting game to teach about aim, distance, ammunition and "sighting in" scopes and sights.

The New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife uses a video CD for a portion of their Hunter's Education Program. Select portions of the video are also available on-line on the My Outdoor TV web site.

In some states, it is perfectly fine to fire a few shots in the field outback, while in others, this could lead to permanently loosing your gun licence So for most of us, the best way to test fire a few guns is at your local shooting range. Also check with your state for hunter practice ranges.

indoor shooting range Some shooting ranges are open to the public, some are private and require membership to use the facilities. Be sure to call ahead and ask about rentals, ear and eye protection and some assistance. Expect to pay a range fee, a rental fee (for each gun you want to try) and for ammunition. This can get to be pricey - and you may find that the NRA course doesn't look so bad after all as a hands-on introduction - but if they understand you are new and looking to purchase, the range folks may work with you as well.

Most ranges will include ear and eye protection in the range fee. If you don't want to ear muffs and safety glasses that others have worn, you will need to bring your own. NEVER go onto a range without proper protection and never lift an ear muff to listen or talk while on the range (especially an indoor range). Other people are still shooting and permanent hearing damage is a possibility. Here's a few sites that can help you find ranges near you.
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