A few months ago, I mentioned that I carry in my home just like I carry outside of my home. Yes, I have a quick-access gun safe and I use it at night to store my CCW gun, but day in, day out, I keep my carry gun on me except when I’m wrestling with my sons or some other activity.
Why? Because it’s faster to engage a threat with a gun on my hip or in my pocket is faster than any off-body storage method, that’s why.
Before I began my career as a photographer, I worked a few years behind the counter of local camera stores, getting to know the industry and the gear. When someone bought a camera from us, we made sure they bought an “accessory kit” to go with it to help start them off right, and the store made almost as much profit on the kit as we did on the cameras.
And it’s must the same for a self-defense firearm. I’m assuming you’ve purchased some kind of compact or full-size handgun for protecting yourself or your home, and if you’ve just bought a gun like that, there are a few things I’d highly recommend you purchase along with your new gun that will help you enjoy it to its fullest.
A gun without ammo is an expensive and rather unwieldy club. You’ll need two kinds of ammo for your gun; Defensive ammunition and practice ammunition.
Defensive ammunition is something like jacketed hollow point (JHP) ammunition that’s designed to expand and not punch through what it’s being shot into. You want this because if, God forbid, you need to defend your life, you need ammunition that stops the threat, not punches a hole in it and moves along to hurt someone else.
Practice ammunition is usually Full Metal Jacket (FMJ) ammunition that’s cheaper and easier to produce than JHP ammo. At a bare minimum, you should purchase three times as many rounds of defensive ammo as your gun holds, so you can be certain your ammo of choice works smoothly in your gun, and purchase at least 100 rounds of practice ammo so you can learn the basics of how your gun operates (and plan on spending a LOT more on ammo after that.).
- A Cleaning Kit
Guns are dirty things. Gunpowder doesn’t burn up 100%, and the oil that makes a gun operate smoothly attracts dust and grime. Get an inexpensive cleaning kit and plan on using it often.
- Some way to safely secure a loaded gun
No, NOT a trigger lock. It’s too easy to make your gun go BANG while fiddling with a trigger lock, and a gun that’s unloaded and under the bed is a pretty useless defensive weapon. Secure your gun with a good locking case, or better yet, a quick-access safe, and will be there when you need it and safely stored when you don’t.
Unless you’re Rob Leatham and were born with a .45 in your hand, shooting a gun accurately is not something we know how to innately accomplish. Getting training as you start your journey with firearms ownership will help eliminate or reduce bad habits done the line.
I’m always amazed when I walk into local gun stores and I don’t see them putting together package deals that offer new gun owners a starter kit that give them everything they need to enjoy their new guns right from the start.
Okay, gun stores: Add-on accessory kits have worked for camera stores for decades. Get on it.
I REALLY want to hunt hogs from helicopters.
Why? Because I’d be in a low-flying helicopter, shooting a rifle, ridding the country of a loathsome invasive species that’s causing an ecological nightmare and harvesting my own organic, steroid-free, free-range bacon, all that the same time.
What’s not to love?
But that sort of thing has absolutely NOTHING to do with my life outside of the helicopter. Sure, it looks like too much fun for any one man to have, but useful for my day-to-day life? No way.
Which brings us around to firearms training.
As I see it, your first firearms class should be about the things you’re most likely to need, such as safe gun handling and storage. Using a gun a to defend your life is (thankfully) a very rare event, but safe gun handling is something you’ll need every time you pick up a gun.
Start your training off right with safety, because techniques may come and go, but safe gun handling never goes out of style.
Carrie from The Well Armed Woman has put together a two-part video series that is designed to help women who want to buy a gun, but don’t know where to start or how to shop for a handgun.
I’ve also got a few quick tips that might help make your first gun store trip a little easier:
- Make sure you’ve handled and fired as many handguns as possible so you know exactly what you are looking for before you step foot in a store. Ladies nights at indoor gun ranges that offer rentals are perfect for testing out a variety of handguns at a minimal cost.
- You may feel overwhelmed and intimidated the first time you walk in to a gun store. Relax, everyone’s there to help.
- If you end up buying a handgun and it’s just not working for you, don’t stress, you can always sell it. You might lose a little money, but almost all guns retain a good portion of their value, so it won’t be a huge mistake.