Team Springfield Armory’s Kippi Leatham shares her firearms education experiences. There’s a lot here to learn! KEEP READING
SOURCE: Team Springfield, Kippi Leatham
I wasn’t introduced to firearms until I was 23 years young. But even as a new shooter, I always viewed my pistol as another tool in my toolbox of life skills. It’s a piece of equipment, like my 9 iron, that I want to have the utmost ability and confidence with when it comes to taking that shot, whether onto the green of the first hole or to knock down that 25-yard steel pepper popper during an IPSC World Championship.
Learning to shoot pistols and getting into competitions completely changed my life for the better.
Dedicating an enormous number of my adult years trying to master proper shooting techniques in combination with speed and accuracy has been a challenge and a thrill with highs, some lows and wonderful opportunities for travel and life-long friendships. And, as another bonus, I’ve also learned a skill that could one day save my life, Heaven forbid the need ever arises.
Making the decision to enter the world of firearm ownership and learning how to shoot, whether as a hobby, for hunting or home or self-defense, should not be taken lightly, as it comes with huge responsibility and a commitment requirement. To quote the great Jeff Cooper, “Owning a handgun doesn’t make you armed any more than owning a guitar makes you a musician.”
As with any new hobby, craft or martial art, there are rules and essential skills every new shooter must learn. Let’s start with the most important aspect – safety.
Learn the universal firearm safety rules. And make a commitment to follow them from this day forward:
Treat all firearms as if loaded.
Keep the gun pointed in a safe direction — never point the muzzle at anything you don’t intend to destroy.
Keep your finger off of the trigger and out of the trigger guard until pointed at the target and you have made the decision to shoot.
Know your target, what’s beyond your target and what is in the line of sight.
Always securely store your firearms, keeping them inaccessible to children and other unauthorized users.
GET PROFESSIONAL HELP
I have worked with hundreds upon hundreds of new shooters over the past decade and have witnessed first-hand the challenges that newbies face. Which is why I highly recommend that first-time shooters take a class from a competent fellow shooter or professional firearms instructor as their first step.
There is so much to learn and a lot to actively think about, and the process can be downright overwhelming. So get a recommendation for a good instructor or Google “pistol classes” or “firearms instruction” to get your journey started. (Just try to avoid those Groupon deals with the picture of the woman with the low-cut shirt and improper grip.)
The legalities that accompany owning a firearm are complex, are constantly changing and vary by state. As a firearm owner, it is your responsibility to know the laws regarding purchasing, selling, possession, usage, licensing, carrying, self-defense, etc., that are in effect federally, locally (where you reside) and where you travel with your firearm.
A few good resources include:
NRA Gun Laws Map
NRA’s Citizen’s Guide to Federal Firearms Laws
Handgun Laws Website
MASTER THE LINGO
Before you attend your first class, take time to understand the terminology as it relates to your pistol and peripherals. Learning to shoot is a process, and part of the process is learning the nomenclature. You can reference your owner’s manual or the manufacturer’s website if you’re not already familiar with the proper terminology.
It’s also extremely important to understand how your semi-automatic pistol operates:
How to properly load and safe/decock it (if applicable)
How to properly unload it and check that it is empty
Next time, experiences and wisdom about getting to the shooting itself.