Shooting can be an incredibly rewarding hobby. Refining your marksmanship skills and learning more about firearms can support other goals (like hunting or home defense). Still, no matter how you choose to employ your skills, shooting is an activity that consistently offers new challenges in fun environments.
Not sure where to start shooting as a hobby? This guide is here to help. Whether you’re looking to build up to hunting or simply incorporate a range day into your routine, we’re here to help you get started.
If you aren’t familiar with firearms or have never shot before, start by learning the basics. Today’s new shooters can employ one or more of the following methods to get their bearings in the world of firearms:
- Finding a community at a local range – We’ll explore more benefits of finding a local range in the next section.
- Taking a course – Consider signing up for an Intro to Shooting, Concealed Carry Permit, or Hunters’ Safety course to learn more about shooting, firearms, and safety.
- Finding information online – Doing online research can help you learn more about the basics, find an in-person community in your area, or prepare for an organized course.
The best way to practice shooting as a newcomer is to visit a local range: a facility where shooters can discharge their weapons in a safe, supervised setting.
But a range serves a few different purposes: You can visit to practice your skills, meet people with similar interests, and learn more about local resources for shooters in your area.
Meeting other hobbyists is an excellent way to learn more and get feedback and support as you develop shooting knowledge and skills. Perhaps the best part of learning to shoot is getting to know other shooters: people who can connect you with resources, provide tips, or even let you try out their firearms.
If you’re interested in shooting, you’ll need access to a firearm.
Simply put, guns are expensive. Before you purchase your first one, consider trying a few options to get a feel for the options and find a weapon compatible with your comfort and goals. There are a few ways to try out a gun before buying one yourself:
- Your shooting range may offer rental firearms.
- A local gun shop might offer a trial period or range day rentals.
- A fellow shooter in your community might let you try out one or more of the guns in their collection.
Once you try out a few firearms and decide to continue with the hobby, you should consider purchasing your own gun—or building a custom firearm from parts.
Whether you rent, borrow, or buy a gun, you’ll need ammunition.
If you’re renting a firearm from your range or a local gun shop, these establishments might offer ammunition for purchase. If they don’t, check out a hunting or sporting goods store in your area.
If you’re borrowing a gun from a range buddy, offering to purchase ammunition or paying them back for any rounds you fire at the range is courteous. Ammunition can be costly (especially rounds designed for hunting), so you should include ammunition costs in your shooting budget.
Perhaps the best tip for new shooters is to choose a firearm (for rental or purchase) chambered in an accessible cartridge. “Accessible” ammunition is both easy to find and relatively affordable. Some popular options for newcomers include:
- .223/5.56 NATO
- .40 S&W
As you incorporate shooting into your regular activities, you’ll need to pick up a few supplies to enhance your experience, ensure safety, and more. These might include:
- Ear protection
- Eye protection
- Cleaning supplies
- A bore snake
Consider building a shooters’ survival kit with all of the above items, first aid supplies, and whatever else you’ll need for safe and successful range days.
Whether you’re interested in regular target practice, hog hunting, home defense, or any other shooting-related skill or activity, finding a community of shooters is an excellent way to get support while you grow your skills.
You can find a community by:
- Looking for local groups online
- Attending a class or range day
- Chatting with regulars or staff at your local range or gun shop
- Joining an organization like a hunters’ club
The shooting community is full of people from all walks of life. As you attend more range days and visit more gun shops, you’re guaranteed to meet people who can help you along your journey.
Whether you eventually want to plan your first hunting trip or you simply want to learn more about shooting, getting into shooting as a hobby is an excellent way to learn new skills, meet people with similar interests, or simply spend time on a rewarding activity.
Check out our guides to learn more about shooting, fishing, hunting, and all the activities the great outdoors has to offer.
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