Do flowers, chocolate, and candlelit dinners bore you? Does the smell of gunpowder get you excited? Does the sound of bullets hitting on target get your blood pumping? If so, heading to the range might be just the thing for you to do this February 14.
If you want to make the best of your Valentine’s Day range time this year, these eight shooting tips for gun lovers are sure to please.
Shooting Tip For Gun Lovers #1: Always Wear Protection
One of the most important shooting tips for gun lovers is to practice safe shooting and always wear protection (no really, always wear it). It’s vital to protect your eyes, ears, and even lungs, from potential hazards at the range.
When shooting, always wear a good pair of earplugs or earmuffs to protect your ears from hearing damage. According to Decibel Pro, a gunshot from a pistol is typically over 158 decibels, and it only takes around 120 decibels to cause immediate damage to your ears.
If you’re looking for hearing protection that will keep you safe WITHOUT diminishing the experience, try an electronic noise-canceling earmuff that will block out the sound of gunshots but still let you hear other sounds, like talking. We recommend these Low Profile Electronic Earmuffs from Howard Leight.
Wearing eye protection at the range is also important to keep things like cartridges, shrapnel, and unburnt gunpowder out of your eyes. We recommend glasses with ballistic impact protection like these Tactical Shooting Glasses from HUNTERSKY.
Lung protection is another lesser-known safety precaution to think about. The CDC recommends wearing a respirator if you spend a lot of time at an indoor shooting range to protect yourself from inhaling the hazardous lead particles discharged near your face each time you fire.
The type of protection you choose to use is up to you. Just make sure you’re careful to purchase the right size and find something that’s comfortable and snug enough that it won’t slip off while you’re shooting (if you catch our drift).
Shooting Tip For Gun Lovers #2: Positively Identify Your Target
Shooting can be a tricky business. When your rounds fly where they shouldn’t, it can cause some serious issues. At a minimum, you could make a mess and get someone mad at you (nobody likes that). In a worst-case scenario, it can result in death.
This really should go without saying, but one of the most essential shooting tips is to positively identify your target and know what lies behind it. Always.
This rule applies both during target practice and when you hear a bump in the middle of the night. In a potential self-defense situation, it’s critical to know whether you’re shooting at a dangerous intruder or if it’s just your grandma grabbing a glass of milk. When you’re out training, make sure you’re shooting against a proper backstop and not toward some happy hikers, a house, or your friend’s truck.
It’s equally important to know what’s behind your target before pulling the trigger. Be aware of the risk of overpenetration. Overpenetration occurs when your round passes through your intended target and continues its projection into whatever lies behind it (oops).
So, before you shoot, stop and think about who or what might be behind your target. If you’re shooting at an intruder, consider what’s in the room on the other side of the wall. Is there a chance a stray bullet will make its way into your son’s bedroom? Could you be shooting into your neighbor’s apartment? Think first, shoot second.
Shooting Tip For Gun Lovers #3: Be Gentle With Your Trigger
There are plenty of gun lovers out there who never think about the way they pull a trigger. Instead of taking the time to get to know their gun’s trigger and the best way to pull it, they hurriedly yank it around and hope for the best. These shooters rarely hit their mark (you know the type).
Whether you’re a proponent of trigger reset, a technique in which you deliberately release the trigger only to the point where it resets and no farther, or you like it rough and prefer the “trigger slap,” which involves letting your finger completely off the trigger to reset, be intentional about it.
Once you’ve chosen a trigger reset method, it’s essential to practice it regularly so that it becomes second nature. If you only practice your trigger discipline occasionally, you may forget how to do it properly in the heat of the moment.
It’s also important to remember that every gun’s trigger reset point is different. What works for one gun may not work for another. So spend the time to get to know your current weapon. It may take a little while to get used to, but you’ll eventually master the technique (if you know what we mean).
Shooting Tip For Gun Lovers #4: Practice Different Positions
With so many different shooting positions out there, how is a gun lover to know which one to use? While there are plenty of recommended positions to try, it’s important that you do what feels natural to you. It’s a good idea to experiment with a few positions before you pick a favorite. It can’t hurt to mix it up from time to time, either ;).
Here are a few of the most popular shooting positions you should definitely try:
Isosceles: The isosceles is a pistol shooting stance that usually comes naturally to newer shooters. To use this position, stand facing the target with both feet pointing forward about shoulder-width apart. Point your arms straight out and shoot.
Weaver: The weaver stance is a classic, stable, some might even say old-school, pistol shooting position. To get into place, stand in a boxing stance with your non-shooting-side foot in front and your other foot behind. Your toes should be slightly pointing to the side. To properly hold the stance, you’ll need to lean slightly forward at the hip, putting most of your weight on your front foot. Grip your gun with your shooting hand fully extended and your support hand bent straight down, then shoot.
Prone: Prone is a rifle-shooting position in which you lay on your stomach with your elbows planted into the ground for support. You can choose to position your body at an angle to your target, or you can lay straight back, whichever is most comfortable for you.
Kneeling: Another great rifle position is kneeling. To shoot while kneeling, plant your right knee onto the ground and tuck your right foot under your hip. Make sure your left knee is up as high as possible, and place your left elbow on that knee. Keep your posture straight and regulate your breathing for the best result.
Over Barricade: If you’re looking for a more advanced position, over barricade might be for you. Over barricade is when you shoot from behind a cover, which is anything that protects you from bullets such as a car or a wall. Naturally, your exact stance with this technique will be different depending on what you’re shooting from behind. It is important to make sure that you keep as much of your body behind cover as possible; only your pistol and shooting hand should ever be exposed.
Whatever position you choose, it’s important to practice it regularly to commit it to muscle memory. Keep in mind that it’s okay to use rubber guns or practice dry fire training at home if you haven’t been to the range in a while (we don’t judge).
Shooting Tip For Gun Lovers #5: Aim For The Heart
One of the most essential pistol shooting tips a gun lover should always practice is aiming for center mass.
Some people believe you should train to shoot a bad guy in the leg to reduce the chance of killing them, while others believe that headshots are the best way to eliminate a threat. However, Marine Corps veteran and firearms writer G. Halek wrote in a Concealed Nation article that there are a few reasons why aiming for center mass is the preferred training method.
The first reason is that the center of the body is a larger target, meaning that a shooter is less likely to miss if their hands are shaking, the target is moving, or because of any other factor that makes it difficult to aim.
The second reason is that aiming for the exact center of the target is actually one of the safer places to hit someone.
“The rationale [to aim for the limbs] is understandable — the potential concealed carrier is looking to not take life and simply incapacitate his target. That’s great,” Halek wrote. “That’s exactly why we shoot center mass.”
When aiming for center mass, you’re actually trying to avoid the vital organs in a person’s body like their heart, lungs, liver, and kidneys, all of which are located just to the right or left side of a person’s abdomen.
So, while you’re not actually aiming for the heart, it’s an easy way to remember that you need to train to shoot center mass, both for your safety and potentially to preserve the life of your target.
Shooting Tip For Gun Lovers #6: Properly Lubricate Your Weapon
If you find yourself wondering, “do I need to lube my gun?” the answer is yes. Proper lubrication can mean the difference between a smooth, enjoyable experience and a friction-induced malfunction that completely kills the mood.
Any time you clean your gun, you’re putting various solvents and chemicals on it to scrub the grime and grit off. If you don’t follow that up with some gun oil, you’re putting your firearm at risk of rusting due to the leftover solvent residue on the metal.
A good rule of thumb is to clean and oil your weapon after each use. That way, it will be ready to go if you need it or the next time you want to take it out for some target practice.
It only takes a few extra moments to apply a dab of oil to the key lubricant points on your gun, including the slide, the barrel, the frame, and any other moving parts or mechanisms. We promise it will be worth it. ;)
Shooting Tip For Gun Lovers #7: Be Careful To Avoid Negligent Discharge
A crucial aspect of gun safety is being aware of what can cause an accidental or negligent discharge. According to a USA Carry article by Sean Holt, an accidental discharge is when your firearm goes off unintentionally or by chance. A negligent discharge is when your weapon fires when you don’t mean for it to because you failed to take the necessary precautions to prevent it from doing so.
“Both accidental discharges and negligent discharges can happen but they mean completely different things. The two terms are not interchangeable and most shooters will never experience an accidental discharge,” Holt wrote. “99.9% of the time you hear someone referring to an accidental discharge it is actually a negligent discharge.”
Not only can an accidental or negligent discharge be extremely embarrassing, but it can result in significant damage or even tragedy. To prevent such a situation, slow down and be intentional with your firearms. Always follow the four rules of gun safety:
- Always keep your firearm pointed in a safe direction.
- Treat all guns as if they are loaded.
- Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot.
- Always be sure of your target and what is beyond it.
Don’t be the person who had an accidental or negligent discharge. It is a big deal.
Shooting Tip For Gun Lovers #8: Size Doesn’t Matter
In case you’ve been feeling self-conscious about the size of your gun, don’t. We’re here to tell you that despite what some people might say, size doesn’t really matter when it comes to shooting skills.
Being a successful shooter has less to do with the kind of pistol you have and more to do with your skill in using it. Using proper form, practicing regularly, and generally being a good shot will make you a much more impressive shooter when it comes down to it than someone with a Glock 41 who can barely hit their target.
So don’t worry if your little .380 pistol doesn’t look as badass as the other guns at the range. Let your groupings do the talking.
Bonus Tips For The Range
Keep in mind that going to the range is an experience; it’s not just about showing up to bang out a few rounds and go home. You’ll want to take your time, really engage with the target, and maybe even try some new moves *wink wink.*
The first thing to remember is that it’s important to practice proper etiquette when at the range. Make sure you understand the rules at the range you’re at and follow them. Listen to the range officer and be respectful when they communicate something to you.
You should also know and follow the unwritten rules of the range, including never shooting at anyone’s target but your own (unless someone offers to let you try theirs, in that case, we don’t judge).
Finally, to really enjoy your experience at the range, you’ll need to take your time. Go prepared to do multiple rounds! Since we know this can be an added expense if you like to shoot often, it can help to prepare in advance by saving up your rounds so that you have the best experience possible during your time at the range.
We hope you found our list of eight shooting tips for gun lovers to be helpful. But even more than that, we hope you have a great time celebrating Valentine’s Day with your gun at the range this year.
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