Training & Handling

The Importance Of Practicing With Your Gun

Spending some quality time and practicing with your gun is one of the most important things you can do, not only when you first purchase your gun, but on an ongoing basis. This “introduction” period with your new gun is extremely important, whether it is your first gun or a new addition to your collection. If you will be carrying your gun, (concealed carry) this piece of metal (or plastic in some cases) will become a part of your body. You need to know it, really know it.

Heaven forbid, but someday you may need it. When and if that moment comes, you won’t know it’s coming, it just will. You will be relying on your instincts, will be forced to make decisions under extreme stress and you will not have the time to get acquainted with your gun! This is why practicing with your gun on an ongoing basis is critical. You do not want to be fumbling with it and trying to remember how to use it when your life is at stake. Your expertise with your gun is critical to your ability to protect yourself and/or others.It is natural, if this is your first gun to feel rather awkward, but trust me, this passes quickly with practice. Being a woman, I KNOW you have already thoroughly read the owners manual that came with your gun! If for any reason you did not receive one, get online and find it on the manufacturer’s website or call the gun store or the manufacturer directly to get one.

Read the blog article “Love is a Many Splendored Thing”.

Before practicing with or handling ANY gun, you and only you are responsible to check and verify that it is not loaded and that it is empty of any ammunition. In the case of a semi-automatic pistol, verify that the magazine is removed. EVEN if someone you know and trust tells you or even shows you it is empty – check it YOURSELF! Once you are thoroughly convinced the gun is empty, just hold it. Hold it, look at it, open and close the cylinder, raise it, take it in and out of your holster, sight it (do not ever point a firearm at ANYTHING you are not willing to destroy) Yes, the firearm is empty – but part of your training MUST be to always handle your gun, empty or loaded following The Four Rules:

  1. All guns are always loaded.
  2. Never let the muzzle cover 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.


If you can’t follow the Four Rules, take your gun back!

Becoming familiar with its feel, its weight and how it works is a major step toward becoming a Well Armed Woman and having the confidence that comes with knowing that you can protect yourself, your home and your loved ones.


Whether you own a GUN for self defense, home defense or for the sport of it, you always want to be constantly practicing to improve your skills and become a better shot. Your ability to hit your target may just save your life. If you find yourself defending your life with a gun, aiming should be a higher priority than shooting and practice is the key. There are three forms of practice that should be part of your ongoing relationship with your gun.

1. Instruction – If you start this new endeavor learning to handle and shoot a gun correctly, you are less likely to form bad habits that are tough to break later and that just may cost you your life in an emergency. Plus, the better you are the more confident you will be and the more fun the sport of shooting will be. Finding and attending a good basic shooting class is highly encouraged. Although you will learn from experience more than you can on your own with a book or video, keep in mind that there are some wonderful instructional books and videos that can be a wonderful complement and follow-up to your personal lesson. If you are a more experienced shooter, learning more advanced skills and fine tuning those you already have is recommended. There are so many classes available on a variety of gun skills. Here is a link to a national listing of female TWAW instructors.

2. Dry-Fire Practice – Dry-fire is a generic term for practicing at home with an UNLOADED gun. It does not necessarily mean only pulling the trigger. It can refer to practicing reloads, drawing, or most any other skill you need to master with your gun. Click here for detailed dry-fire instructions and drills You may think that not much can be accomplished by practicing with an empty gun, but the fact is, improvement will be significant. Dry-fire is an essential component of learning to shoot well. There are two reasons for this: 1) developing proficiency with any motor skill requires a significant amount of repetitions, and 2) bad habits such as flinching, eye blinking, lack of follow through are difficult to detect during live-fire. All top shooters in the world incorporate a significant amount of dry-fire into their training regimens, some for hours each day. DRY-FIRE CAN BE DANGEROUS. Many accidental shootings are caused by people, even experienced shooters, dry-firing in a dangerous manner. NOTHING can distract you from following all the dry fire safety rules!

RECOMMENDED AS A MINIMUM: Practice dry-firing your gun at home at least once a week.

3. Live Fire – Practicing with your gun at the Range – The range can mean a local indoor shooting range, an outdoor shooting facility or for those in more rural areas a simple area in the desert or outdoors. (Local and state laws regulate where it is legal to shoot a firearm. Check the laws in your state before you shoot anywhere other than at an official facility.) Nothing can build skill and confidence like shooting your gun with a real target, real ammunition, real recoil and real noise.

RECOMMENDED AS A MINIMUM: Practice live rounds at the range at least once a month with your defensive handgun, for a minimum of 50 rounds each time.


We already know this, but research supports the fact that women are excellent students. They are in fact, better students than men. Women not only seek instruction, they pay attention better, follow directions better, and apply learned principles and techniques better. But what really will make you the best Well Armed Woman you can be will be practice. Practice, practice, practice. As women, we juggle everything and everybody. We tend to make the needs of everyone we care for and work for a priority. In reality, our personal safety and protection should be a priority over all the rest. Why? Because if you are not here – you have nothing to juggle or schedule. Make time, schedule time and commit to taking the time to practice with your gun.


Shooting is fun. In fact it has become more fun the more I shoot and the better I get. Personally, as a control freak, I love the power. I love the bang! But I love getting better best. Shooting a very tight pattern is very satisfying and rewarding. My local shooting range now has a Ladies’ Night one night every week where I have made new friends, introduced shooting to old ones and just have a great time. It has become a healthy and fun activity for me and my children to do together.

Shooting practice is not just shooting at a single target in a single place, over and over again. Depending on where you are shooting, indoors or out, whether you are at an organized facility or out in the desert, there is an endless variety of drills and fun targets (some that even shoot sparks when you hit the target).

Here is a link to a great article with practice exercises. 

Going to a shooting range is quite fun. The shooting range will typically ask you to view a safety video and sign a release prior to shooting. Range fees associated with shooting are typically waived for members, so consider joining. There are also discounts on training courses, gun rentals and products for members as well. Membership also generally includes discounts on training courses, gun rentals, ammunition and other products. Taking advantage of gun rental availability can be a great way to get acquainted with different types of firearms. The staff is there to assist you and to monitor the shooting range to insure that all safety rules are properly followed.”Eye’s and Ears” are available usually at no charge and are required. The noise level inside the range is something to experience!

Ammunition For PracticeHigh quality self defense ammunition can be quite expensive and what you will carry in your gun. Some practice with these types of ammunition is a good idea so you know exactly how they “feel” and “shoot” when fired. It is more economical, however, to use a standard round for practice as you should be firing a substantial number of rounds each practice session. See the Ammunition Demystifier for more information on ammunition.

Choosing Instruction

As we have discussed, formal training is highly recommended and well worth the investment.

A course is required in many states to receive a Concealed Carry permit (CCW). The overall purpose of this class is to assure the state that people who obtain carry permits have been exposed to the state laws governing concealed carry and are minimally capable of using gun safely. There are basic gun handling classes, armed self defense classes, tactical training, and courses designed to train the competitive shooter.

Along with a CCW class, a basic gun handling class is recommended as the place to start.

You will have to check your area for your local options. Gun stores, gun shows, and shooting ranges are the place to start. Most have extensive websites so internet research will be helpful to you. I do recommend that you visit in person to get a good sense of the professionalism and quality of the facility. Your local police department can offer you some direction as well. Here is a link to a national listing of female TWAW instructors

Try to find one that offers a variety of courses, with well experienced instructors and perhaps one that offers classes for women only. Some skills to develop through instruction are:

  • Safely manipulate a firearm
  • Reload quickly and safely
  • Shoot accurately
  • Shoot quickly
  • Draw from a holster
  • Multiple targets
  • One-handed shooting
  • Moving targets
  • Moving while shooting
  • Working in low light


The NRA offers Women On Target® Instructional Shooting Clinics where you will:

  • Learn safe firearms handling
  • Learn how to store your firearms safely
  • Learn to shoot
  • Learn a sport you’ll enjoy for a lifetime


Visit for more information and to see if these classes are offered in your area.


Continue reading the next article of Step 3 Part B: Loading and Unloading Your Gun

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7 thoughts on “The Importance Of Practicing With Your Gun

  1. Braden Bills says:

    I want to carry a gun with me so that I can keep my family safe, but I want to make sure that I do it responsibly. It makes sense that getting a concealed carry permit would be important.

  2. rachel frampton says:

    my sister was robbed and hurt while she was walking down the subway. That’s why we have both decided that we should learn how to use a gun so we can protect ourselves from teh danger. I guess practicing an indoor shooting range at the comfort of our home seems like a great idea, although we’ve been thinking that maybe it’s better to look for a class that offers multi-state permit for those women who would like to learn gun shooting like us.

  3. I find it great when you said that a person that reads their owner’s manual can help them prevent themselves from feeling awkward when using and holding a gun. With this in mind, they can opt to practice safety over the weekend at a local indoor range. Doing this will help them increase their hand-eye coordination too.

  4. I thought it was great how you mentioned that it is highly encouraged that you should find and attend a good basic shooting class. My brother recently bought a pistol so that he can protect his family in case any emergencies were to happen in his home. It would be beneficial for him to take a class that can show him how to properly handle a pistol for when an emergency does occur.

  5. Hello! It is really important to practice with your gun, as the saying goes practice makes perfect, but with handling a gun, we have to make sure that we really know how to use it properly. Practicing in a shooting range is also good because we can practice with different firearms and there’s someone there to help us, or guide us whenever we needed help.

  6. That is a good point that practicing shooting is fun. It would be good to get practice for shooting and safety in. That way I can become a professional when I go hunting or something.

  7. Carrie Lightfoot says:

    I completely agree Tim. Nothing can replace quality in-person training.

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