Not everybody grew up around firearm enthusiasts. Despite the wild antics you see in TV and movies, shooting a gun is not as easy as taking aim and pulling the trigger. Sharpshooters train their whole lives, practicing for hours with different weapons and ammunition, and firing at different targets from different ranges, to get themselves to where shooting is a natural skill. Shooting is an art, and learning to fire a weapon is no different from learning an instrument.
You should be able to enjoy shooting a wide variety of classic weapons in a safe and fun environment. One of my favorite places to do that is Machine Guns Vegas, located on the Strip in my hometown of Las Vegas. Regardless of where you shoot, the better trained and experienced a shooter is, the safer everyone around him will be. Plus, the more accurate his shooting, the better chance he’ll enjoy himself on the range! Here are five tips for shooting at the beginner level to help everyone get comfortable with handling a weapon on the shooting range.
1: Understand Trigger Pull
Why do most first-time shooters never hit the target?
The obvious answer is the gun. The recoil on a weapon, even with fair warning and training from a rangemaster, is going to surprise a first-time shooter, but the real culprit is usually the shooter’s trigger pull. A sloppy pull on the trigger means a sloppy shot: you’re not going to hit anything like that.
Listen to your rangemaster and give the trigger an even, controlled pull for an accurate shot. Which brings us to our next tip:
2: Listen to Your Instructor(s)
We can’t stress this one enough. When you go to a shooting range, your instructors and rangemasters are trained experts who have years of experience with these weapons behind you. They’ve seen new shooters before you and they’ll see more when you’re gone, so listen to what they have to say and maybe you won’t look like a total chump next time you’re on the range.
3. Practice Group Shooting
This is one of the simplest exercises to try while shooting, and a good way of testing your skill level. Set yourself up in a supported shooting position (either kneeling with gun supported or prone), and fire off a short, easy group, no more than six rounds. Focus on each trigger pull and try to make it perfect. See how well you did shooting that group, then move to an unsupported position and try the same. The comparison will tell you where you’re at and what you need to improve.
4. Try Different Ranges & Targets
Diversity is key. If you only practice shooting at big bullseyes at 25 yards, that’s the only thing you’ll be able to hit. Make sure you practice shooting at different ranges and with different targets. Getting to know how a weapon behaves at different ranges, or more accurately how you handle shooting a weapon at distance, will immediately improve your shooting.
5. Flip the Targets Around
This one is a real challenge. Flip your target around and just shoot at the blank piece of paper. With no bullseye or body profile to shoot at, you’ll just have your eyes to tell you where dead-center is. Test your accuracy and then flip it around to see how you did.
In general, shooting takes time to master. A good instructor and a consistent routine will have you shooting like a pro in no time.
About the Author
Tim Randolph is a freelance writer and entrepreneur from Las Vegas, Nevada. He has written for a wealth of high-profile clients including the Livestrong Network and Demand Media. In his spare time, he enjoys physical fitness, target shooting, and photography.