So You Want To Own a Gun
Posted By Bob Owens On April 15, 2012
PJ Media actually hit me with a pretty tall order with what appeared to be a simple suggestion for an article: a step-by-step process for those who know absolutely nada about guns yet want to arm themselves.
My immediate response — "Sure, I'll get right on it" — was tempered roughly .00093 nanoseconds later by the realization of the task ahead of me.
Getting a gun — especially the first one — is a pretty big deal.
For those of us who grow up in "gun cultures" where firearms are merely another tool and fact of life, getting your first gun may consist of getting a pint-sized .22-caliber single shot rifle almost as long as you are tall when you are a child. It is a simple and expected rite of passage that is a mark of growing expectations, trust, and new-found maturity.
We're generally accompanied by an experienced and patient relative — a father, grandfather, aunt, or older sibling — and the time we spend with those first firearms fills us with nostalgia in later years. The adventures spent afield plinking at cans and paper targets or hunting is remembered as much or more for the bonding and the fellowship as it is for the experience of shooting a gun itself.
Over time, if we have good and patient instructors, we learn and apply the rules of gun safety religiously, develop an appreciation for the joy of marksmanship, and find a reverence and respect for nature that those who choose to remove themselves from the circle of life will never know. It is the sort of upbringing I experienced with my father. It is similar to the stories captured by fellow North Carolinian Robert Ruark in The Old Man and the Boy, his much-loved classic.
For those of us who come into knowing firearms this way, guns are pleasant touchstones connecting the past, present, and future. Many others have found similar if more transient first impressions about guns at summer camps or with scouting or similar youth groups, and they either chose to pursue their passion later in life or to hold the experiences as a fond memory.
Unfortunately, as our culture urbanizes and suburbanizes, and woodlands and fields fall prey to mall sprawl and McMansions, the first impressions many of us get of firearms don't come with gentle guidance. All too often, it comes through the crime reports on the evening news, the bloodied visages of victims of a tyrant's military oppression, or the heart-rending stories of suicides, murders, and accidents. This is compounded by ever-more-bloody Hollywood entertainment and video games that promote the most shocking and puerile use of weapons imaginable. We've become acculturated to view guns as malevolent occupying entities that have the power to thrust bloodlust upon us simply by picking them up, or as booby traps that will go off unexpectedly at the slightest touch. As a result of this cultural brainwashing, it is sometimes more difficult to get adults to act rationally around guns than children.
Despite these manufactured fears, gun ownership in the U.S. is now at its highest level in history . Obviously, even the saturated biases of media aren't all influencing.
So you're interested in getting your first gun. Where should you start? First, you need to know what you plan to do with it.
Unfortunately, many first-time shooters feel pressured into buying their first firearm by the circumstance of fear. When I worked behind the gun counter as a salesman at a sporting goods chain, many of my first-time customers were young couples that had recently experienced a burglary or a similar "wake-up call" when a crime shattered the illusion of safety they had in their neighborhood.
This is not the best time to to buy a weapon. When you're emotional, you tend to latch on to the first thing that might possibly provide something that approximates a good answer to your problem. That leads to buyer's remorse. Nevertheless, if you have reason to fear an immediate crime from a specific source, just about any firearm is better than none.
In this specific unfortunate circumstance, I would try to guide the customer to a reasonably priced weapon that provides a balance of defensive firepower, practical accuracy, and user safety. At the time and in my long-gun-only chain, that choice was often either a .410 or a 20-gauge "youth and ladies" shotgun. The specific caliber, action, and configuration depended upon the specific characteristics of the users.
I tended to steer physically infirm or petite shooters towards the .410 because of the reduced recoil and lighter weight frame. I have a friend who is 6 feet tall and 240 pounds man and has severe carpal tunnel syndrome. He can't hang on to a gun with any noticeable recoil. The .410 would be the better option for him or for many people with similar maladies. I typically recommended the 20-gauge for other users, as it would provide an adequate mix of stopping power, inherent accuracy, and safety. I'd then try to tailor the ammunition to their specific living arrangements. If they lived in apartment buildings or densely packed urban housing, I'd generally suggest larger "game load" shot sizes used for hunting rabbits. If they lived in the suburbs, where there is a little more of a space buffer between homes, I'd recommend lower velocity duck hunting or turkey hunting loads. Unless a couple lived alone (no kids or pets) in a rural area, I almost never recommended the "conventional wisdom" defensive loading of buckshot, as the stout recoil, deafening indoor blast, and risk of overpenetration was too great of a risk.
Fortunately, most people won't find themselves in such a stressful position when contemplating their first gun purchases. Instead, they will be able to go find out what is best for their needs in a more relaxed and contemplative manner.
It returns to that first essential question: What do you you want to be able to do with your gun?
Are you going to buy it and a box of ammo and stick it in the back of the closet for "just in case"? Or are you going to buy a gun because shooting looks like a lot of fun? Do you intend to shoot socially, maybe even in some sort of shooting sport or competition? Are you looking at weapons because of an uncertain economic future? Are you a fledgling collector looking for a historical piece? Are you fascinated by marksmanship?
Congratulations! Any or all of these reasons (and hundreds more) are great reasons for starting down the path to gun ownership, which we'll begin tackling in more detail in the next installment.
Article printed from PJ Media: http://pjmedia.com
URL to article: http://pjmedia.com/blog/so-you-want-to-own-a-gun/
URLs in this post:
 highest level in history: http://news.bostonherald.com/news/national/midwest/view/20120406obama_factor_keeps_ammunition_factory_humming/
 Bunkers, Food, Armor: Disaster Prep Hits Mainstream: http://pjmedia.com/blog/bunkers-food-armor-disaster-prep-hits-mainstream/
So You Want To Own a Gun (Part Two)
Posted By Bob Owens On April 27, 2012 @ 12:00 am In Uncategorized | 38 Comments
With our initial installment , we discussed how people come about wanting to own their own firearm, and the pivotal question for all first-time purchasers: "What do you want to be able to do with your gun?"
The answers are as varied as the people considering gun ownership. You may want to be able to protect yourself and others in an insecure world; you may be nurturing a desire to master the skill of marksmanship. Possibly, the competitor in you desires to push yourself and to excel in one of many shooting sports. Or maybe, it's just: "That looks fun and I want to do it."
You know what? That's perfect. As long as you want to do it safely.
Whatever your specific interest, there are several ways to ease yourself into the world of shooting if this is your first experience with firearms. The path I'd recommend to inexperienced shooters starts with a formal beginner's class. These classes focus on demystifying the mechanics of firearms while simultaneously imparting the essential rules of gun safety.
The NRA's Home Firearm Safety course is a great non-shooting foundational class that aspires to impart "basic knowledge, skills, and to explain the attitude necessary for the safe handling and storage of firearms and ammunition in the home." It's like the classroom portion of driver's ed — such a class starts you off on the right path, putting safety first. Even if you later decide that you don't want to own a gun, you leave prepared with knowledge of gun safety, and that's never a bad thing. In an ideal world, every novice would take such a basic gun safety course (either the recommended NRA course or something comparable).
Next, ideally you would spend some range time with a friendly, knowledgeable, and patient instructor who has various firearms for you to try out and is willing to show you how firearms work and teach you basic shooting techniques.
You might be surprised to find your own circle of friends could lead to contact with someone who may be able to satisfy some or all of those goals. If you don't find such a shooting buddy, you can find gun ranges in most civilized parts of the country, where you can rent firearms (particularly handguns) and try them out.
Firearms are built with different goals in mind, and no one gun can do all things. At this point, you need to start narrowing down your goals and individual circumstances, as these are ultimately going to inform the purchase of your first gun.
If your eventual goal is to obtain a concealed carry permit or to obtain a handgun for personal protection or sport, the course of action I'd suggest is to first look at a handgun chambered in .22 Long Rifle (.22 LR). The .22 LR is an inexpensive, low recoil, and relatively quiet cartridge that allows shooters of every skill level to focus on the fundamental skills of shooting without being distracted by the kick or noise of larger-caliber weapons. I'd advise trying out both revolvers and semi-automatic pistols to decide which appeals to you, which feels more comfortable in your hand, and which has controls that you can manipulate.
At this point, you may notice a very loud wailing and gnashing of teeth around you. In all likelihood, that is the multitude of handgun shooters crying out in anguish at the mention of ".22 LR" in any proximity to a discussion of concealed carry and defensive handguns. Their complaints are not without merit — the conventional wisdom is that the smallest acceptable cartridge for self-defense is a .380 ACP in a pistol or a .38 Special in a revolver. I'm not disagreeing with that sentiment at all.
I'm suggesting you'll learn faster, and often without imparting many bad habits you have to overcome later, if you learn your fundamentals with a .22 handgun. It's all about the fundamentals. Even advanced courses boil down to learning to use the fundamentals more efficiently to promote accurate shooting. As former Delta Force operator and noted weapons trainer Larry Vickers  has noted: "Speed is fine. Accuracy is final."
If your goal is to learn to use a long-arm for anything other than wingshooting, I'm going to make a similar, and unsurprising, recommendation. Semi-automatic or bolt-action (your preference) .22 LR rifles are a ridiculously inexpensive entry into firearms ownership, with decent quality new rifles retailing for $200 or less, and used rifles for even less than that. Unlike most other rifles, rifles chambered in .22 LR are also welcome on many "pistol only" ranges that don't have the ability to safely contain centerfire rifles. Again, practice is key. So where do you get the training you need in order to learn the fundamentals?
While is is often abused as a political punching bag, the National Rifle Association does a marvelous job of firearms education with the Home Firearms Safety course, and then their hands-on "FIRST Steps" and "Basic" series of classes  for owners of rifles, pistols, and shotguns. They also have a well-regarded hunter safety program that is required in many states to get a hunting license. In general, these NRA courses are the McDonald's of firearms instruction: you're going to get the same basic ingredients prepared the same way, and you'll find them almost everywhere. For what they offer as foundational courses rooted in safety, they are hard to beat.
A very useful rifle-specific alternative to NRA rifle training is Project Appleseed , which is a combination of rifle marksmanship training and American heritage that welcomes rifle shooters of any stripe, and is designed around a course of fire tailored to those carrying magazine-fed .22 LR semiautomatics.
We're talking foundational shooting, which probably is disconcerting news to someone interested in whether their first pistol should be either X or Y. Your first gun should be one that you can use to master the fundamentals. After you've fired a few thousand rounds downrange, you'll have a better idea of who you are as a shooter and will be able to make a more informed decision on what will satisfy your particular needs.
Of course, merely buying a gun doesn't make you a shooter any more than buying a car makes you a NASCAR driver. In our next installment, we'll talk specifically about gun and purpose-specific training.
Article printed from PJ Media: http://pjmedia.com
URL to article: http://pjmedia.com/blog/so-you-want-to-own-a-gun-part-two/
URLs in this post:
 initial installment: http://pjmedia.com/blog/so-you-want-to-own-a-gun/
 Larry Vickers: http://vickerstactical.com/tactical-tips/accuracy/
 series of classes: http://www.nrainstructors.org/CourseCatalog.aspx
 Project Appleseed: http://www.appleseedinfo.org/
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