Buying a Gun and Learning to Use It

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, there was a 15.4% increase in background checks for gun purchases in the United States. A large number of people are buying guns for the first time. Add to the cost of the firearm the expense and time involved in taking a class in gun usage and safety, and a considerable investment has been made. A new gun owner can continue to enjoy that purchase by taking part in hunting and shooting sports.

Selecting the Right Gun

When deciding to buy a gun, the purchaser should know how you intend to use it, where you will store it, and that you will be comfortable firing it. A 12 gauge shotgun or an assault rifle with a hefty kick is not the best choice for everyone. A person of small stature may consider selecting a youth model rifle or shotgun. A professional salesperson at a reputable sporting goods company can advise the shopper so that the gun purchased is a good fit for that individual.

Finding a Place to Shoot

It is necessary to find a safe, appropriate place to hunt or shoot. The National Shooting Sports Foundation maintains a website that allows one to search for target shooting facilities around the United States. From that website, one can reach related websites to find places to hunt. The Department of Natural Resources for each state also provides up-to-date information about hunting.

Learning About Shooting Sports

Shooting disciplines are categorized by type of firearm, target, and technique. Shotgun sports include Trap, Skeet, and Sporting Clays. Bench Rest, Silhouette, and Position are rifle shooting sports. Action Shooting, Silhouette, and Precision Shooting are handgun sports. A person contemplating a first gun purchase would benefit from visiting a shooting range before deciding which type of firearm to purchase. If the purchase has already been made, a visit to the range is in order to find out about the shooting sports available for that type of gun. Gun enthusiasts at the range will be glad to help a new gun owner try out various types of shooting.

Learning to Hunt

While many gun enthusiasts are strictly competitive shooters, shooting ranges are certainly frequented by hunters. Gun owners who want to learn about hunting can meet hunters who pursue all types of game. These folks can provide a wealth of information about their sport. They may not give away the location of their best duck blind or tree stand, but they will be happy to discuss gun care and hunting technique. Who doesn’t love to tell stories about their favorite pursuit? Hunt clubs offer hunting experiences that include experienced guides and even trained hunting dogs. For women, The National Wild Turkey Federation presents several Women in the Outdoors events around the country each year. These events feature workshops in shooting and hunting, along with many other activities such as fly fishing, bass fishing, campfire cooking, archery, and self defense.

How to Choosing the Best Hunting Rifle?

The starting point for determining the best rifle is to consider the game to be pursued. A rifle for rabbits or coyotes will be very different than a rifle for moose or mountain bighorn sheep. A rifle that is too powerful for a given animal will result in unnecessary recoil and loss of meat. A rifle that is not powerful enough to dispatch the animal quickly in normal hunting conditions and ranges is unethical and often illegal.

Rifle Calibers and What Those Numbers Mean

After deciding on the game to be pursued, the next step is to pick a caliber, which is the approximate diameter of the bullet expressed in inches or millimeters. There are numerous rifle calibers available, from “varmint” calibers like the .17 and .223 used for coyotes and prairie dogs, all the way up to the large rounds used for Africa’s dangerous game, such as the .375 and .458. Among the most popular calibers for whitetail deer are the .308, .270, 7mm and .30.

When there are two numbers in the cartridge name, such as .30-06, only the first number refers to the caliber. The second number can refer to several things. With some, like the .30-06, the second number refers to the year the cartridge was first available – 1906. Sometimes it means a new “wildcat” round was developed using the cartridge from existing round, as in the case of the .25-06 – a .25 caliber round based on the .30-06 cartridge. The second number can also refer to the grains of black powder used in the original round, as in the case of the venerable .30-30.

There can be several different specific types of ammunition for each caliber, and these will generally include the name of the manufacturer that developed them, such as the .300 Winchester Magnum and the .30-06 Springfield.

Choosing the Best Caliber for Shot Distance

Another important consideration in choosing a rifle is the terrain in which it will be used. If most shots will be taken at 100 yards or less, a slug gun or a rifle with a larger, slower bullet such as the .30-30 Winchester or .35 Remington works very well. If the rifle is to be used over longer distances, 200 to 300 yards, then fast, “flat-shooting” rounds such as the .243 Winchester for deer or the .22-250 Remington for varmints are good choices. Cartridges like the .30-06 and .308 are excellent all-purpose rounds for large game.

Other Considerations When Choosing a Rifle

Once a hunter has determined the type of game to be hunted, the appropriate caliber and round, and the typical shooting distance, the rest becomes largely a matter of personal preference.

Bolt action guns are the most popular, but other types such as lever action and pump action have their devotees as well.

A longer, heavier barrel is better for longer shots, whereas a short-barrelled “brush gun” like the .30-30 is great for getting off quick shots in the woods.

Some hunters prefer the look and feel of natural wood stocks, while others prefer synthetics, which are less affected by temperature and humidity.

If the hunter is sensitive to recoil, that should be a consideration when choosing a rifle. Caliber isn’t always an accurate indicator of how much a rifle “kicks”.

Price is often an issue, and there are usually several good choices at each price point.

A good hunting rifle, properly cared-for, will provide years of faithful service and enjoyment. In many cases, they become treasured family heirlooms handed down from generation to generation.