If you are going to own a gun, you should know more than just how to use it. Although modern handguns are often thought of as simple ‘point-and-shoot’ tools, the truth is that there is a lot to learn about guns, both tactically and as far as safety goes. Here are some tactical gun training tips for beginners.

1.  Be safe

This is the paramount rule of using any firearm. The basic points of safety that any gun owner, or user, should know by heart are: keep the weapon pointed in a safe direction, never put your finger on the trigger until you are ready to shoot, and never load a weapon until you are ready to use it. These cardinal rules, while merely superficial, are the most important points for beginners to remember and utilize.

2.  Handguns: revolvers and semiautomatics

Handguns can be split into two categories, the first being revolvers. Revolvers have rotating barrels that contain the bullets (typically 5-6 rounds) and they have a hammer that you cock before you pull the trigger. Think of the guns in western movies. These are not equipped with a safety. Semiautomatic handguns come with clips or magazines, where the bullets are loaded and then slid into the gun. These guns have a slide and a safety, and can be fired repeatedly until the clip is empty.

3.  Aim

Handguns have small aiming-aids called sights. At the front of the gun there is a post, and at the back (closest to your face when firing) is a ‘U’ shape. Aligning the front post between the posts of your ‘U’ and leveling with your target is the correct way to aim.

4.  Training

Professional training is a good idea. Taking marksmen or basic gun handling courses is prudent, and your training should be as broad-spectrum as possible in the beginning. Being new to guns, training in a highly-specialized course will not benefit you as much now as it may later on.

5.  Licenses

There are many places you can load a gun up and shoot at a target for fun without having to have a license. If, however, you intend to be a gun owner or take up shooting as a hobby, or as a practical skill (as a farmer, or other job), you need to be properly licensed. There are several ways to get a gun without a license, but where guns are concerned it is always recommended to do things by the books. Get the appropriate license.

6.  Ask questions

When learning how to shoot and operate a firearm correctly, there are no stupid questions. Don’t be afraid to pick your trainer’s brain during a course.

7.  Read

There is a lot of literature available on guns, marksmanship and safe gun use. Whatever weapon you choose to own, be it a revolver or a rifle, read about it and learn everything you can. Knowing the mechanics of your weapon can be invaluable knowledge.

8.  Don’t be afraid

It’s natural to be nervous around guns, particularly if you have no experience with them. But if you intend to become a gun owner, you shouldn’t be intimidated by your own weapon. Proper courses and training should help eradicate your nerves, and the more familiar you become with firearms, the more your nerves will subside.

9.  Practice

After all is said and done—and you have your courses completed and a license in hand—you’re still not done. Becoming a ‘good shot’ takes practice. Getting out to ranges to ensure you improve your accuracy and maintain a certain level of comfort and familiarity with your weapon is key. Don’t just store your weapon and forget about it. Commit to being competent and capable with your firearm.

10.  Keep your weapon in working order

Guns need to be cleaned and maintained in order to ensure they will operate correctly when the time comes. Learn how and when to clean your gun, as well as how to properly store it.

As a beginner with firearms, there are many things you will need to learn, but it is a very exciting skill to learn. Guns have a practical purpose, not just for self-defense, but also for activities like hunting. Whatever the reason is behind your desire to learn about firearms, you will gain valuable knowledge and skills from proper training and guidance.

This article was written by Hermant. Z. Enualle, a firearms enthusiast, who believes that, enrolling for gun training classes, develops your confidence in handling firearms.