How to Fire a Handgun Safely and Correctly

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I grew up around
guns my entire childhood. My dad was a federal
game warden
, so seeing him holster up or clean
his gun
are some of my boyhood memories. Despite being around
guns, I never really took an interest in them. I’m not sure
why. I guess I just saw them as my dad’s work stuff. Nothing
to get really excited about.

A few months
ago, I had a sudden urge to shoot a gun. I called my dad on the
phone. “Hey Dad. I want to learn to shoot a handgun. Can you
teach me how?”

He was sort
of surprised.

do you want to learn to shoot a gun all of a sudden?” he asked.

I don’t know. It’s just something I think I should know
how to do.”

So my dad took
me, my brother, and my wife, to the gun range and showed us how
to fire a gun.

It got me thinking.
I know I’m not the only man out there who has gone their entire
life without shooting a gun. For some of these men it’s a deliberate
choice. They don’t want anything to do with guns and that’s cool.

But I’m
sure there are a lot of men out there who have never fired a gun,
but like me have the desire to do so. Or maybe you never shot a
gun, but got invited to the gun range by some buddies. You want
to go, but you don’t want to look like an idiot when you handle
the gun. You’d like to have an idea of how to fire a gun safely
and correctly before you go.

To get the
lowdown on how to shoot a handgun safely and correctly, I headed
over to the United
States Shooting Academy
in Tulsa, OK and talked to Mike
, the Direct of Training at the Academy. He explained
the basics of firing a handgun so a first-time shooter could do
so safely and semi-accurately (the accuracy part will take some

The Four Cardinal
Safety Rules of Firing a Handgun

The very first
thing Mike brought up were four rules, that if followed strictly,
will keep you and others safe so you can have a good time unloading
a few rounds.

Always treat every firearm as if it were loaded. No ifs,
ands, or buts. Even if you know the gun is unloaded, still handle
it as if it were loaded.

Always keep the firearm pointed in a safe direction, a direction
where a negligent discharge would cause minimum property damage
and zero physical injury. According to Mike, even the most
experienced gun handlers break this rule all the time. They’ll
take a gun and start pointing it all over the place while exclaiming,
“Ah, sweet bro, this gun is kickass.”

“They don’t
even know they’re doing it,” says Mike, “which makes it even more

The safest
direction to point a gun is always downrange (as long as there aren’t
any people downrange!).

Always keep your trigger finger off the trigger and outside the
trigger guard until you have made a conscious decision to shoot.

Always be sure of your target, backstop, and beyond. You
want to be aware of what’s in your line of fire. This isn’t
usually a concern if you go to a professional gun range. They make
sure that people and property stay out of the path of the guns firing
downrange. Where this becomes a concern is when you go shoot with
your buddy out on his property.

your friend what exactly is beyond the target and backstop you’re
shooting at, especially when you’re shooting into a wooded
area. Don’t just settle for, ‘Oh, don’t worry.
There’s nothing back there.’ Ask specifically if there
are any houses, property, etc beyond your backstop. Err on the side
of being overly cautious,” says Mike.

the rest of the article

3, 2010

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