Spend a few hours at your local indoor shooting range
You can only learn so much from YouTube, movies, video games, and websites. This is especially true when it comes to firearms. When learning to fire guns and rifles, nothing can replace experience and professional instruction. Putting rounds downrange with your own finger on the trigger is the best way to learn – then supplement with books, online courses, and even quality YouTube Channels.
This past weekend I decided to head off to the indoor shooting range in our city. This gave me the opportunity to get familiar with and try out various handguns, shotguns, and even some carbines. Whether you are just getting started with shooting and aren’t sure it’s for you, or maybe you are just trying to decide between a few different weapons for your next purchase – a trip to a gun range is likely the right move for you.
Firearm safety starts with education
Too many people are simply afraid of firearms for no good reason at all. People should respect them, not fear them. But this is a hard message to convey if you were not brought up with guns in the house, or had exposure to them in some way. Truly understanding the power that most guns are capable of – both good and bad – is only fully understood after squeezing off some rounds yourself.
Another bonus of this experience you gain in shooting is that you will never look at video games, TV shows, or movie scenes the same way again. You will certainly be more critical of the shooting scenes, more understanding of the effects caused, and you will definitely find yourself trying to call out the make and model of the guns you see.
As I have heard before, there is no such thing as an accidental discharge, only a negligent discharge. Guns do not fire just by themselves, and if it seems that this is the case, it is still a negligent discharge due to the fact that the weapon was loaded when it ought not to have been.
Rule #1 The weapon is ALWAYS pointed downrange
Rule #2 You finger is off the trigger until the weapon is on target and you intend to fire
I will add some more that I have heard:
Rule #3 Treat all weapons as if they are loaded. There is no such thing as an unloaded firearm. A weapon can only be considered safe once it is cleared, trigger lock applied, and safely inside of a locked case.
Rule #4 Do not point the weapon at anything that you do not intend to shoot (or destroy or kill).
Rule #5 Complacency & Sloppiness Kills
Getting this exposure and trigger time will increase your safety if you are ever again around firearms, as well as allowing you to help others to be safe around them too.
Compare firearms that you are considering
An indoor shooting range that has firearms there for you to use is a great place to compare models. Say you’re looking for a 12 gauge shotgun for home defence and some hunting, well you’re likely reviewing two of the more popular units that accomplish this: Remington 870 and the Mossberg 590. You can go a long way with watching YouTube videos, review blogs, or listening to your friends. But nothing can compare to picking up the weapon yourself and sending some shot into targets. Maybe one is balanced better for your hands, or you constantly short-shuck another. Perhaps the 870’s stock sights work for you, while you find it easier to get at the safety on the 590. How would you know this if you haven’t tried them out. Go to the range and try both of them out side-by-side. It may cost you a bit more than just buying ammo at the store, but then you can be certain that you bought the right shotgun for your needs.
The same can go if you are considering a handgun. A common pistol caliber for civilians is the 9mm. Some of the common choices in this caliber are the Beretta M9, Glock 17 (full frame), Glock 19 (compact), CZ 75, Smith & Wesson M&P 9mm, or the small Glock 26 (sub-compact). Fit in the hand, weight, balance, recoil, and overall feeling are very important when purchasing a handgun, so you really do want to try out as many as possible before making a purchase decision.
Because of the restrictive hand-gun laws here in Canada, it may be difficult to find people that own these weapons and to make trying them out available to you. A good range will have the most popular models available, and running a box of ammo through each is the best way to make your own decision.
Try your hand at handguns
Canadian firearm law is very restrictive on handgun ownership. Though it’s not easy to get a licence for a rifle, shotgun, or other long-gun; getting a licence for a handgun requires you to jump through more hoops. Plus the usefulness of a handgun is much reduced when you compare them to rifles and shotguns, making it much less of a necessity for you to own. But handguns can be useful and fun. There’s a definite feeling of coolness that accompanies picking one up, slamming in a mag, and hitting some targets. Whether you are new to pistols and revolvers, you just want to try something new, are getting into competition, or have this as a hobby – going to a handgun range is a reasonable alternative to owning your own. This is especially true if you only want to fire one periodically and do not want to take on the safety & storage responsibility of owning such a tool.
Finish up with some fun
Did I mention that shooting can be fun….A LOT of fun?? Don’t let the media or teacuppers in your life convince you that enjoying shooting is evil. It most certainly is not. If you are anyone but the most die-hard of hippies, yuppies, or ignorami, then you will have a perma-smile on your face for the first 48hours following your first visit to the gun range. How do I know, well because that’s what happened to me. I went around showing videos on my iPhone of me shooting to all my friends and colleagues.
But what do I mean by “finishing up with something fun”? By this I mean firing off a few rounds of something big, loud, fun, and ultimately not something that you are likely ever to own yourself. Me, I fired off five rounds in the Smith & Wesson Model 500. This is the most powerful handgun in the world and not a likely candidate for purchase by someone simply looking for a revolver for home defence. At the DVC Range, other ‘just for fun’ firearms included the S&W .460, .454 Casull, and the Desert Eagle 50. Finishing up some of your range days with a few rounds from one of these guns will leave you with a smile on your face, tingle in your hands, and a bit of a ring in your ears. This is to your 9mm and .45ACP shooting as dessert is to your meat and potatoes. Something to savour at the end in smaller quantities – but leaving you looking forward to the next time.
By now it should be obvious that I enjoyed my time at the indoor shooting range. There will be more throughout the country, but for those of you near Vancouver, I recommend you try out DVC. If you’re curious whether firearms are for you, want to try something new out, or are just looking for a last minute gift for someone special in your life, a trip to the range is likely just what you’re looking for.
One warning though, this is highly addictive. Visit only as you budget permits.
Do you regularly visit an indoor shooting range? Or perhaps my experience has peaked your interest to give it a shot yourself?