Beginners Guide To Shooting A Gun: Tips, Advice, Safety & More

You’ve gone online and spent the time necessary to purchase a rifle. What next? Well, the next step is to learn how to use it – assuming that rifle is your first. Learning how to shoot a gun accurately takes a lot of practice and focus.

Forget what Daniel Craig does in the movies. It’s way more difficult than that. Even experienced shooters can still make silly mistakes when it comes to developing shooting habits. Being a new shooter grants you the opportunity to start afresh and learn the basics of shooting.

So, let’s get down to the things you need to know about shooting a gun for a beginner.

  1. Rules of Gun Safety
    When it comes to owning a gun, the second most important thing is how to use it safely. There are some rules, that you need to be followed religiously in order to prevent issues from arising later in the future. Your gun must be treated like it’s loaded all the time. This way you get to respect how you carry your gun around. You also shouldn’t point your gun at anything you don’t wish to destroy. This also goes in the line with the earlier rule – if the gun is treated like it’s loaded every time you pick it up, you won’t point it recklessly. Another rule that is so important is to keep your finger off the trigger until you’re ready to shoot. Forget what you see in Hollywood, keeping your finger on the trigger is a big no. It’s wrong and shouldn’t be encouraged. Also, if you decide to carry a holster, keeping your finger on the trigger could increase the likelihood of shooting yourself or someone else in the process.
  2. Proper ammunition

Using the wrong ammunition is definitely a surefire way of destroying your weapon. For semi-automatics, the gun caliber – which is where the ammunition will be inserted, is often located on the barrel or beside the ejection chamber. You can also look through your manual just to be certain.

  1. Get an instructor

Sometimes, you might feel that you will be better off with an instructor who can help you get comfortable with shooting around people. This will also help you familiarize yourself with the weapon. Choosing an instructor too can be tricky. If you feel uncomfortable with someone, ditch them and find a new one. You have to go with your instincts here. You don’t want to have someone you don’t trust standing over your shoulder giving instructions to you. But when you do find one that you’re comfortable with, you should listen to them and work on their feedbacks. Don’t take their criticisms personally – use them to improve and keep yourself safe around guns.

  1. Always aim to improve

With gun shooting, never assume you’re a master. Always aim to improve your shooting skills. Even champion shooters still have areas they can improve on and they work on it consistently. Work to improve your range, the type of guns you’re comfortable with as well as loading and unloading your weapon.

  1. The proper grip.

Having a proper grip of your gun means being comfortable with it that you know every area of the gun’s body. The first step here is to determine the type of gun that you will be shooting. Some guns have a slide that shoots back every time you fire them – especially semi-automatics. If you don’t have a proper grip on these guns, you may lose your weapon while shooting it or worse have a broken bone.

For a revolver, you need to be careful to avoid burns. There is a gap between the chamber and the cylinder with revolvers – this gap should be avoided while firing and you must ensure you don’t place your finger there to avoid burns.

The best way to get used to your gun is to continually practice. You have to get familiar with your gun and the local shooting range that you will be using to train. Learning how to shoot on a regular basis will help you learn how to control the trigger reset. It will also help you become more comfortable when shooting.

  1. Loading your weapon

Another skill you need to learn is how to load and unload magazines in your gun. For new semi-autos, they often come with a stiff spring which will make it a bit difficult to master at first. But if you practice loading up the weapon, you will soon get used to it and break the stiffness so you can have more retention. The stances you take as well during shooting should be practiced. This way you’re ready for any position when the need arises. Learn how to lean, stand to the side, sit with a gun as well as laying down while shooting.

  1. Dry-firing

Dry firing is the act of shooting without ammunition. It’s recommended you practice dry firing so as to master the trigger pull and reset of your gun. The way to go about this is to start by verifying if the gun is unloaded, then you will remove the magazine and head to a room in the range that doesn’t have ammunition. Then locate an area to point your gun at that is safe. Once, you find this location, practice pulling the trigger. This way you will master the trigger pull and also learn when each round will fire. This is a great way to improve your aim.

You should also practice shooting with both eyes. Even though most people prefer shooting with their dominant eyes, it’s always good to prepare for unexpected situations by learning how to use both eyes.

The truth is great shooting skills won’t come to you overnight and it sometimes takes a lot of time for you to get comfortable shooting your new gun. But don’t be discouraged. We all went through this stage before we got really good.


Ed Hawkins is a long time recreational firearms owner, having owned many different firearms over his lifetime. While his trusty CZ 75B is his favorite, Ed also enjoys frequent trips to the range with his AR-15. Ed is part-owner and managing editor at ArmsBearingCitizen.