Shooting Range Tips: How To Make The Most of Your Experience

There are so many reasons why you should learn how to shoot. In order to do that, you need to frequent a great shooting range to practice. Whether you’re preparing to join the military or just as a recreational activity, visiting a shooting range can be stress relieving.

The benefits of shooting can also improve physical and mental health in the body. Among the numerous reasons why you need to visit a shooting range is to build physical discipline. We are in the social media age where everything can be done from the comfort of your chair. Shooting sport can help build physical discipline that is not just healthy but enjoyable for the body. You’ll increase in strength and hand-eye coordination. Fine motor skills, which is a great skill needed in life will be built at the range as well.

Arm strength is one other reason why you need to visit a shooting range. Shooting a gun requires a strong arm. The hands need to be sturdy with good eye coordination as well in order to aim and shoot your intended target. Focus is another word that is applicable to shooting sports. Keeping your eyes on a target and seeing it through. When you visit the shooting range, you will build your focus and learn to zero in on a single objective. This way you ensure there is only one thing needed for you to do.

As most shooters know, you don’t get better by buying a gun. You get better by going out to the range and practicing shooting. The most important way of getting new shooters improving their skills is by taking them to the shooting range. A range session is often necessary for shooters irrespective of their experience. It educates and keeps them familiar with every area of their firearm. From the basics to the safety of the firearm and how to maintain them.

Since visiting the range is an important aspect of a new shooter’s development, what then is the problem? The problem is finding and accessing great shooting ranges. if you live in the rural, you can head over to the wild and practice on private land or that of a relative. But, it can get more difficult if you live in the city.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) which is the trade association has listed a directory of available shooting range within the country. You can download this as a guide for your PC or as an app for your mobile phone.

Where to Shoot

When you download the app, the first place you need to visit is the “Where to Shoot” section on the NSSF’s. Here, you will find different options of the best places to shoot. You can view listings by state or by using the zip code to find areas closest to you. These are the only two parameters that can be used to search for shooting areas on the mobile app. But if you’re using the online guide, there are more options to filter for ranges by using several other factors.

You can use filtering options such as schooling activities where you can search for a range based on the activities they offer. Such activities could include trap and skeet, rimfire as well as handgun shooting. You can also filter to see if the range has a dedicated archery or airgun areas. If you can’t find these, it could mean they have a dedicated space where everyone practices. When you go deeper in the website directory, you can also filter by competitions and events being organized by the owners of the range. These events are often fun to be in and a great place to network with other shooters like yourself. If you’re looking for options for hunting opportunities, you can also filter the app to know if they offer game animal services that are close to you.

If there is anything which needs to be praised of the app, it has to be the level of detail involved. It allows you to choose details that fits your needs and desires which will lead to growth and development in your game.

There is a tab under the NSSF’s directory called “Resources”, users will be able to find educational guides and other informational sources especially for beginner shooters. You will also find links to the Youtube channel of the association where you will find other instructional videos on shooting and tactics to be used when on the shooting range. For safety, the resources tab inside the app handles that. New users will be able to see the rules of firearm safety and other informational literature on firearm safety.

With a growing directory of shooting ranges that are often updated, the NSSF directory is a valuable tool for new and veteran shooters who want to find the perfect range to train irrespective of location.

Taking friends to the shooting range is never an easy task and it’s something you must have experienced as a gun owner, one way or another. Every building or office has that one person who keeps asking questions about guns but has never gotten around to buying one. It can be frustrating sometimes because the questions never stop.

You might have wondered why they haven’t gotten around to buying a firearm or even gone as far as asking them. For some, it could be the fear of firearms painted by the media or an incident they experienced as a youngster at a gun shop that scarred them for life. Whatever the cause, we often tend to have long conversations with these set of people and about the range trip we had.

We have a civic right as gun owners to introduce new people to the shooting sports and teaching them how to shoot. Some of these experiences could be extremely life altering and it should be done gradually. Recently, I was fortunate to share an experience like that with my classmate. My partner and I got to teach her how to shoot a semi-automatic and she was hooked instantly. The negative side to this is that like other shooters before her, she has no idea where the gun or the ammunition came from as long as she could blow it away.

1. Starting Small

How do you start? Well, you definitely don’t want to ruin the experience for them. Our goal is to minimize the incidence of them having an experience that is ruined – which could scar them from ever returning to the shooting range.  If someone is a total novice on guns, the only way you can start is to start small and simple. If you have a pistol, start with that so they can get a grip on what the process is all about. Use a pistol that is straight to the point without any of the fancy stuff. A Browning Buckmark without too much recoil will do just fine. Once your friend is comfortable with the 22’s, you can then upgrade them to a full 99m pistol. The reason why I recommend a full sized gun is because they are less intimidating though a bit heavier than other guns. If you don’t have a full sized pistol but can get a compact 9mm, that will work just as fine as well.

2. Keeping it Light

No one works well when they are under too much pressure and criticism. Take it easy with them and refrain from putting too much pressure. This might sound a bit baffling to you now but there was a time when you struggled as well. You hardly knew the specs of the rifle that was given to you or how to operate it safely. This person is in the same boat and is trying to find their feet. Don’t bark orders at them or speak with them as you would with a professional shooter. Don’t be loud or domineering as this would lead to the training session veering off course. One way of keeping the training light for the person is by asking them how they felt after each shot or what they thought about each gun after using it.

3. Cost

This is my personal opinion and you don’t have to follow through. But when I take a friend out, I cover the cost of the ammunition. I do this because I can and also as a way of making new range buddies that we can connect with on the long term. Now, I know alarm bells are probably going off right now. You’re thinking how this possible, right? Cover the cost? But remember this article is about taking a friend to the shooting range. If the person is someone that you really get along with you wouldn’t have a problem buying their ammo. The only caveat to this idea is if the person asks if they can pick up ammo by themselves – this way, I will write it down for them and tell them to get say two boxes. With this, they get to have an idea of what ammunition costs and be more committed when I insist on buying them next time. They are also less likely to give up knowing someone has paid a substantial amount so they can get better at shooting.

4. Awkward Pressure

The final step is to relieve them off the pressure. You have to assume that at the end of this experience, your once non-knowledgeable friend now has a lot of desire on gun-related things and probably wants to buy their own gun. They could also decide owning a gun is not their thing due to the cost or the general disinterest of keeping a gun at home. Don’t apply pressure or push them into making a decision quickly. Let them be until they come to you and ask questions about it – then you’ll know they have awakened into this wonderful world of gun ownership. It takes time though especially if they had been involved in a terrible shooting accident in the past. Give it some time, don’t push. They will come around.

This concludes our little guide on taking friends to the shooting range. If you have any tip you want to pass along to other shooters, kindly drop it in the comment section and we would be more than happy to reply.

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.