You’ve got a new gun, now what?
You have already thought about what it means to own a gun and all that this entails. You also have thought about what it would take for you to use your gun in a self-defense situation and determined that yes, you could use it if your life or the life of a loved one was at risk. But what’s next? Moving into your life with a gun is a process. There is a progression of learning, training, and adjusting to your new lifestyle. If you’re reading and feel that you haven’t fully worked through the first steps mentioned below, no worries! Here is are some helpful articles to help you through them, Do I Need A Gun? Could I use it?
I know there is so much information out there that it can be very overwhelming. So, I have narrowed down what I believe are the next 7 steps you should take to become a knowledgeable, safe, and skilled Well Armed Woman. What is next for you on your journey toward your armed self-protection?
Let's Get Started!
Safety is a MUST for ALL gun owners, new and experienced.
Gun safety is truly a lifestyle and becomes part of who you are as a gun owner. These are not just sentences to learn or actions you use only when you are at the range. They must become so ingrained in your mind and body that without fail you safely handle, store, practice, train, clean, teach with, and use your gun.
There are four firearms safety rules that are universal and are to be followed always, anywhere, always. Therefore, you should begin to commit to memory right now!
The Firearm Safety Rules Are:
1. All guns are always loaded. Always consider all firearms loaded and handle them as such.
2. Never let the muzzle cover (point at or pass over) anything you are not willing to destroy.
3. Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target.
4. Be sure of your target and what is beyond it and around it.
Safe Gun Storage
You must also have a safe place to store your gun when not in use. “In use” is anytime the gun is staged for your self-protection. If you have not considered how you will store your firearm, do it now and purchase a gun safe that has the features that you need. If you have children in the home, you MUST have a place to keep your gun that they cannot access, under any circumstances. Please read my article on safe gun storage to help guide you in how you can best store you gun in your home, Safe Storage of Guns
Learn the Laws
This can be a little daunting, but you must know the laws in your area on the purchase, the legal use, carrying, transport, and possibly even storage of your gun. Not knowing the laws is not only irresponsible but not following the laws could result in serious and life-changing consequences for you. It is imperative that you know and understand the laws before ever staging or carrying your gun for your self-defense. Promise me you will do the necessary research? Great… I know you will 🙂
Here is a good article to get you started Gun Law Basics
Now, Let's Get To Your New Gun!
Get Acquainted with Your New Gun!
For someone who has never held a gun, or have only a few times, it can be a little scary. This is where spending some time with your UNLOADED new gun is very important. You need to begin gaining your confidence with your gun. It truly is like a new relationship. You want to get to know your new partner in your self-defense and know it well. Here is a fun article I wrote on how to get to know your gun, Love is a Many Splendored Thing and here are helpful articles on How a Semi-Automatic Gun Works and How a Revolver Works
Knowing the safety rules first (YES, these apply even when your gun is unloaded) will allow you to know you will not hurt anyone and that you are being responsible while learning.
First, be sure to take the proper precautions and verify (really verify) your gun is unloaded. Then, start by holding your gun, getting a good feel of the grip and the weight. Practice manipulating all the controls, the slide lock, the magazine release, and safeties if applicable.
I always like to break down a new gun as if I am going to clean it. This allows you to see its parts and how they work. There is truly no better way to get to know your gun than to know it inside and out and how to take it apart and put it back together.
If you are not familiar with the parts of a gun yet, I suggest reading this article to help you learn them How a Gun Works
Review Proper Techniques When Using a Gun.
Before shooting your new gun live fire (with ammunition) at a range, it’s important to first get acquainted with proper shooting techniques. How do you hold it, how do you load it, how should you stand, how do you aim it, and how do you properly press the trigger? All of these fundamentals of shooting are necessary to safely and accurately shoot your gun. Take some time to research these shooting basics before heading to the range. This will give you a good base of knowledge and prepare you for your first shots with your new gun.
I have created an online course that goes over all the major topics of gun ownership and these shooting basics. It allows you to take this first step when it is convenient for you, at your own pace, and from the comfort of your own living room. It lays out all the basics in an easy to follow format and gives new shooters the knowledge and confidence they need to start shooting. You can read more on this course here Women & Guns: The Basics
Finally, go to a range and shoot your new gun!
I highly recommend making an appointment with an instructor or go with a knowledgeable friend for your first time shooting. If this is not possible and you need to go by yourself, you can do it as long as you have properly gone through Step 5 beforehand. Here is an article I recommend you read prior to going to a shooting range for the first time, Range Etiquette. At the range, there will be staff and Range Safety Officers (RSO’s) who will be happy to assist if you have a question or need help.
The great advantage of working with a certified firearms instructor when you are just learning to shoot is that you will ensure that the shooting technique you begin with are correct. It’s so much easier to learn with the proper skills than try to re-train bad habits later!
Continue Your Education: A Gun Owner is Never Done Learning
Your education and training should never stop! I think it is healthiest to always consider yourself in training and not ever believe that you are fully trained. You will always have room to improve your existing skills and learn new ones! Besides, training is a ton of fun! You may even find yourself addicted and always hungry for more!
There are many types of training you can do. Simply check with your local range for upcoming classes. Another great option is to join your local TWAW Shooting Chapter. I started this non-profit organization to provide women all over the country with a comfortable and welcoming environment to learn and grow as shooters. These groups of women meet monthly and work on skills, together. Not only do you build and grow your technique, but you make long-lasting friendships too.
Get your CCW license!
If you plan on conceal carrying your gun you will need to get your permit. Just as gun laws vary from state to state, so do the laws surrounding concealed carry permits. Here is a step by step article on how to begin this process How to Get Your Concealed Carry Permit.