The 5 Essential Steps for New Gun Owners

There's a lot of scary stuff happening around the world, and a lot of people are going out and buying guns for home and self defense and in response to threats to 2nd Amendment rights. Unfortunately, more guns in circulation doesn't automatically mean people are suddenly more secure and ready to defend their homes.

Owning a gun and knowing how to tactically deploy your firearm are two very different things, so I just wanted to provide a roadmap from 30,000 feet for new gun owners who are now on their slow and gentle journey toward firearms proficiency.

You can sort of view this as a Public Service Announcement not to rush into thinking you know what you're doing. If you're a new gun owner, chances are you really don't know how to handle your gun safely and effectively like you should.

This article and the accompanying video are just one small step toward getting you prepared. This does NOT replace the generous amounts of training and practice required to safely and proficiently use a firearm.

Essential Step #1: Learn the Universal Safety Rules

  • Treat Every Gun like it's loaded--even simulation guns or training guns with blanks.
  • Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are aligned and you're ready to shoot.
  • Never point a gun at anything you don't intend to destroy.
  • Know what's beyond your target, what's behind it, in front of it, to the left and right of it. And remember, bullets can go through walls and other structures.

Essential Step #2: Learn Proper Gun Operation (Loading, Reloading, Clearing)

To load your gun, you obviously put a magazine in. So, while following the Universal Gun Safety Rules, place the magazine in the gun. Then--and here's something you may not know--when you pull the slide back to chamber a round, pull it back violently letting your hand slide off the back.

To clear your gun out, press the magazine release to drop the magazine, then rack the slide (again, quickly, "violently") to clear the chamber of any remaining bullet. Rack the slide again for healthy redundancy.

Then to ensure the chamber is very empty, do a visual check. This time, rack the slide slowly back while pushing up the slide stop release. This'll catch a notch in the slide to keep it open.

Visually inspect the chamber, then place a finger in the chamber for a physical check. Look away. Then look back at the chamber for an additional visual inspection (again, healthy redundancy).

The big thing is to have a system and stick to it, doing the same thing in the same way Every. Single. Time.. When it's time to clear a gun, you're not talking to anyone, you're not watching tv, you're not doing anything else. You're ensuring the area is safe, that you're not breaking any of the Universal Firearms Safety Rules. Do the exact same thing Every. Single. Time.

At the end of a magazine, the slide locks back automatically. To reload, drop the empty mag, place a new magazine in, and either rack the slide or depress the slide stop release.


Essential Step #3: Adopt a Reliable Carrying and Storage System

Again this is a 30,000-ft roadmap overview. Each of these steps is worth several posts and videos, so this is by no means exhaustive. These are just placeholders to give you a general working knowledge so you can research and learn more down the road.

It's critically important that you choose a good carry system. Think of a modern pistol as a married pair. Your gun is designed to fit a holster that's custom made for that pistol. Like a kydex holster.

I carry a kydex appendix holster. Others might carry at three o'clock, four o'clock, on an ankle, or in a bag. Whatever kind of carry position you choose, your holster needs, at a minimum, good trigger guard support and good retention that fits your wardrobe and lifestyle. Remember that gun fights come at you real fast. When you need a gun you need it a few seconds ago. So you want to be quick with it, but you also want it to be safely holstered when you aren't using it.

The same applies with Safe Gun Storage

You want to have a storage system that keeps your guns away from your kids while also providing quick access when you need it.

Gun safes and boxes are strongly encouraged. Get a good gun storage system.

Essential Step #4: Get Quality Training

Pistol shooting is difficult as it is, even when you're just doing target practice at the range. Early on you'll miss your target. I can almost promise you that this is not because the gun or sights are off but because you're likely a terrible shooter to begin with.

You're likely committing one of these errors: shot anticipation, trigger jerking or improper sight alignment. We teach the fundamentals of fire and fundamentals of shooting, and if any of these fundamentals and elements are out of harmony, it'll have a catastrophic impact on where your shots are landing.

After you learn how to hit your target, you'll want to take it a step further to learn firearms defense. Bad guys are typically ambush hunters. They come out of nowhere very quickly so you'll have to learn how to draw quickly and shoot effectively.

Fast and accurate while you're freaking out in a low light environment and maybe even shooting one handed while fending someone off.

Essential Step #5: Don't Be in a Hurry

Again. Don't just go buy and gun and assume that now that you have a gun, you're going to be safe and proficient with it. That's just not true. That's a false sense of security. If you're in too much of a hurry, you might accidentally do something terrible that you can't take back. This is why if you have a gun or are thinking about getting one, your first step after that is to get good, reputable training on how to use it safely and proficiently.

Remember to Train Hard. Train Smart.