When you’re new to the shooting sports, it can be easy to go overboard buying gear. Just like with any new hobby, beginners have a hard time knowing what they will need, what’s a waste of money, and which styles and features they’ll use most.
Try to find a good mentor who can help you learn about the gear you’ll need and use most. Take at least a few visits to a range before getting too much equipment, so you will have a better idea of what it entails. If you can, spend some time with more seasoned shooters at the range, observing and asking questions (with permission). Many gun enthusiasts are eager to help beginners.
Also ask questions at the sporting goods store where you’re buying your gear. The people behind the counter usually have a lot of experience answering questions and helping people pick out items based on their needs. They have holsters you can try out, guns you can hold, and can give you details on their products.
Shooting glasses are an important and often overlooked aspect of range safety. When shooting, your eyes can be at risk from flying material such as powder, hot gas, and ejected brass. While these injuries may be rare, eye protection is still important.
In addition to protecting your eyes, the best shooting glasses can help you in other ways. Sunglasses can help improve your performance when shooting outside, and in addition offer protection from glares and UV rays. Shooting glasses are safer and better for the range compared with regular sunglasses.
If you wear prescription glasses, using shooting glasses can be safer. Shatterproof prescription shooting glasses will protect your eyes in the even they are struck with something. Regular glasses could shatter and hit your eye.
Shooting is a very loud sport and hearing protection is not negotiable. Shooting can cause permanent hearing damage. Ear protection can take the form of ear muffs that sit on the outside of the head, and ear plugs which are inserted into the ear.
Ear muffs sit tight against the ears and block or muffle sound. Don’t use ear muffs that aren’t made for sound reduction, they won’t work well. Ear muffs are nice if you want to share ear protection between several people, or if you find ear plugs uncomfortable. They can interfere with proper gun sighting when using a long gun and are sometimes uncomfortable if they don’t fit well.
Ear plugs, whether disposable foam or custom fit, cannot be shared with others. They can be uncomfortable for some people but allow full movement and unrestricted cheek access for sighting.
Proper gun maintenance will prolong the life of your gun and protect its performance. You need to know how to do a field cleaning and how to take your gun apart for a detailed clean.
When you are at the range or out hunting, you may need to clean your barrel or chamber in the field. You need a portable cleaning kit with a variety of brushes and clothes.
For more detailed cleaning, learn how to properly take your gun apart and put it back together again. Learn what parts should be cleaned and oiled. Gun maintenance prevents rust, powder buildup, and moving parts from sticking.
Shooting bags are moldable sandbags used as rests for the gun. Usually used when shooting and sighting in rifles, shooting bags help steady the gun, take the weight off your arm, and help absorb recoil.
You can get many kinds of targets, from simple pictures on paper, to metal targets that will reset themselves, to rubber bouncing targets. Most of the unique ones are more suitable for outdoor ranges but even paper targets are available in a variety of designs and styles.
Range Storage Bag
The more gear you get, the more you will need a shooting bag. While much of your gear can live at home, a certain amount will go with you every time you shoot. Make sure to get a bag big enough to tote everything you will need at the range.
Holsters and Belt
If you going to be doing any pistol shooting, get a good holster you are comfortable with. Holsters come in a variety of sizes, materials, and with various features. Make sure your holster has retention of some kind so your gun can’t fall out or get snagged on anything. The trigger should be completely covered.
Follow Safety Rules
Every shooter should know and follow the bare minimum of shooting safety. The NRA teaches several basic rules to keep the shooter and those around him safe:
- Never point your gun at something you’re not willing to destroy
- Keep your finger off the trigger until you’re ready to shoot
- Every gun is always loaded
- Be sure of your target and what’s beyond it