So You Got a Gun, Now What? Maintain and Repeat

As your experience as a gun owner grows, what you’re likely to find is that it’s circular in nature. It’s not a linear path from gun newbie to experienced gun owner, where you start out knowing very little, progress in your knowledge and training, and then become an expert who just about knows it all. While you may become an expert at some point, there’s no magical finish line that, once crossed, negates the need to ever refresh, research, or retrain again. Staying an informed, sharp, and safe gun owner is all about maintaining and repeating—and knowing when to do one or both.

Keep Practicing Gun Safety so it Becomes Second Nature

You should never stop exercising gun safety. Period. But anyone can grow complacent, and one day you might, say, find yourself pointing your gun downrange with your finger already inside the trigger guard, even though you’re not ready to fire. Or casually handling a firearm that you didn’t bother to check to see if it was loaded first.    

Always, always, always practice the four primary rules of firearm safety. Review them periodically and put them into play every time you handle or fire a gun. In case you’re already a bit fuzzy on them they are as follows:

  1. Treat every firearm as if it’s loaded.
  2. Always point the muzzle in a safe direction.
  3. Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on target.
  4. Be sure of your target and what’s beyond.

Follow these four rules every single time you handle a firearm, and you should never have any safety issues. And make sure that, if you see others not following them, you politely speak up. For their safety and the safety of those around them.

Continue Training and Retraining

Firearms training is a lifelong commitment, so it’s only natural that you should continue to expand your training into new areas that interest you. But you should also consider repeating some training courses you’ve previously taken to stay sharp. The truth is that we all get rusty, especially if we’re not practicing our training on a regular basis and reinforcing muscle memory. 

That shotgun home-defense course you took four years ago? Can you honestly say you’ve been practicing your cornering techniques or trigger control on a regular basis and they’re now second nature? Or that your level of marksmanship is where it should be when you may not have been to the range in months or even years? 

Even worse than being rusty is developing bad habits, which need to be eliminated for your sake and those around you. There’s no better way to identify and correct bad habits than by having a knowledgeable, certified instructor personally coaching you on the right way to do things.

If you’re not sure which kind of training to take, consider instruction in one or more of these training categories:

  1. Gun safety
  2. Hunter safety
  3. Self-defense
  4. Marksmanship
  5. Tactical & specialty

Don’t look at training as something you “have” to do. Most firearms training, while serious, is also a lot of fun. And it’s a great way to meet other like-minded individuals who share your passion for firearms and being proficient with them.

Support Second Amendment Rights

Your rights as a gun owner are continually being challenged, so it’s imperative that you and other conscientious owners stay informed and active to protect and preserve them. Especially given that, once rights are taken away, it can be exponentially more difficult to get them back than it would’ve been to protect them in the first place. 

There are five main ways you can help support your Second Amendment rights:

  • Vote for your Second Amendment interests.
  • Join and support Second Amendment organizations.
  • Speak up but don’t shout down others to educate them on Second Amendment rights.
  • Stay informed and up to date on Second Amendment issues.
  • Be vigilant because the fight is never over.

If you’re not sure where to begin supporting your Second Amendment rights, it’s probably best to start by visiting some of the more prominent and respected Second Amendment organizations. Here are five you should consider visiting and supporting:

  1. National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action
  2. National Shooting Sports Foundation
  3. Second Amendment Foundation
  4. Gun Owners of America
  5. Firearms Policy Coalition

Educate Others

As your gun expertise grows, so does your worth as a resource to others new to firearm ownership. If you received any guidance from more experienced gun owners on your own journey, why not make an effort to pay it forward by passing on your knowledge and experience to others new to firearms?

There are three primary ways to do so:

  1. Share firearm resources with others, including training courses, videos, and Second Amendment literature and organizations you found useful on your journey.
  2. Pass on your firsthand knowledge, including training tips you may have learned. And speak up if you witness a novice gun owner practicing unsafe habits or techniques.
  3. Take others shooting with you. You can describe the thrill and fun of shooting until you’re blue in the face, but until someone actually fires a gun and hits a target firsthand, it’s mostly just words. It’s also a good opportunity to immediately identify and correct any bad or unsafe habits you may witness.  

You can directly influence another’s experience with firearms by mentoring them. You can also help ensure that they, and everyone else around them, are safer with proper instruction and advice.

Keep Accessorizing Your Firearm

As your shooting interests and training expand, so too will the accessories you purchase for your firearm. For example, if you decide to add low-light training to your training schedule, you will likely be in the market for a light for your rifle, pistol, or shotgun.

Remember that everything you add to your firearm adds weight and can reduce its maneuverability. So, make sure every accessory you purchase and mount to your firearm serves a purpose and enhances its performance. Here are a few types of firearm accessories you may want to consider:

  1. Rail Systems: A rail serves as the mounting platform for a whole host of accessories, including lights, sling swivels, optics, and more.
  2. Firearm-Mounted Lights: For home defense, a light on your gun could prove invaluable—especially given home intruders frequently operate under the cover of darkness.
  3. Optics: Fixed iron sights are standard-issue on most firearms, but if you’re looking to upgrade, a scope or red-dot-type optic may make sense.
  4. Slings & Sling Mounts: Not only does a sling make carrying a rifle or shotgun easier, it can also be used as a support to help improve accuracy.
  5. Muzzle Devices: Muzzle brakes, flash hiders, and compensators, all of which mount to the muzzle, can help hide flash signature, reduce recoil, or help control muzzle rise to keep follow-up shots on target.

Buying a firearm is a big responsibility, and that responsibility remains with you, the owner, for as long as you possess that firearm. The good news is that exercising responsible gun ownership can expand your interests, introduce you to others who share your interests, and be downright fun. So, enjoy your journey. You’re a member of an elite group recognized as important enough to be included in the Constitution of the United States by our founding fathers.   

You are a gun owner.