If your goal is to learn to use a long-arm for anything other than wingshooting, I’m going to make a similar, and unsurprising, recommendation. Semi-automatic or bolt-action (your preference) .22 LR rifles are a ridiculously inexpensive entry into firearms ownership, with decent quality new rifles retailing for $200 or less, and used rifles for even less than that. Unlike most other rifles, rifles chambered in .22 LR are also welcome on many “pistol only” ranges that don’t have the ability to safely contain centerfire rifles. Again, practice is key. So where do you get the training you need in order to learn the fundamentals?
While is is often abused as a political punching bag, the National Rifle Association does a marvelous job of firearms education with the Home Firearms Safety course, and then their hands-on “FIRST Steps” and “Basic” series of classes for owners of rifles, pistols, and shotguns. They also have a well-regarded hunter safety program that is required in many states to get a hunting license. In general, these NRA courses are the McDonald’s of firearms instruction: you’re going to get the same basic ingredients prepared the same way, and you’ll find them almost everywhere. For what they offer as foundational courses rooted in safety, they are hard to beat.
A very useful rifle-specific alternative to NRA rifle training is Project Appleseed, which is a combination of rifle marksmanship training and American heritage that welcomes rifle shooters of any stripe, and is designed around a course of fire tailored to those carrying magazine-fed .22 LR semiautomatics.
We’re talking foundational shooting, which probably is disconcerting news to someone interested in whether their first pistol should be either X or Y. Your first gun should be one that you can use to master the fundamentals. After you’ve fired a few thousand rounds downrange, you’ll have a better idea of who you are as a shooter and will be able to make a more informed decision on what will satisfy your particular needs.
Of course, merely buying a gun doesn’t make you a shooter any more than buying a car makes you a NASCAR driver. In our next installment, we’ll talk specifically about gun and purpose-specific training.
Read Part One here.