Catering to the New Shooter

photo from azcentral.com.

Americans have the right to keep and bear arms, and in many states—depending on the legal hoops one has to jump through—you can carry a gun if you choose. But if you decide to exercise that right, what kind of responsibility do you then take upon yourself? This piece from The Arizona Republic examines that very question, pointing out that it's not only a responsibility to carry a gun safely and know how to use it correctly, but carrying also comes with a duty to educate yourself, especially in states with "constitutional carry" laws, such Arizona.

"The first step to firearms ownership is to do some soul-searching on why you feel the need or desire to own a firearm," says Sherrie Seibert of Insight Firearms Training Development, one of Arizona's leading gun-safety training providers, in the story. "Is it going to be a good fit for your home and family environment?"

If you do make the decision to buy or carry, or have already do so, Seibert says you must then arm yourself with knowledge by taking courses offered by companies such as Insight, and educate yourself about state ownership laws, carry laws, proper gun storage, marksmanship, safety and more.

But gun education and training doesn't always have to focus on the worst possible scenarios of home invasions and other attacks or serious legal instruction. There's plenty to learn about recreational shooting, and the teaching can begin early.

A gun shop called Shooters World in both Phoenix and Peoria has a program called "First Shots" geared toward children ages 7-12 and is an introduction to safe recreational gun use, according to the story. The course also offers the opportunity to fire a .22-caliber handgun. Parents accompany the kids during the three-hour class, with eyes and ears provided.

"(First Shots) is strictly for recreational use," says Shooters World general manager Jesse Hanson. "We use a light recoiling caliber that is good for kids. There's no defensive shooting, and we discuss safe handling and storage."

They also offer a class that's a tier higher called Family Fundamentals, a four-hour class best suited to kids 13 and older, the story says. The class focuses on emergency preparedness and identifying who may handle guns in the home in certain situations, along with firearms safety, handling, unloading, ammo selection, and marksmanship. The course uses 9mm handguns.

And, like many others, Shooters World recognizes the need for a class geared specifically toward female shooters that addresses their concerns.

Hanson says in the story that her favorite class is the women-only course.

"Women are strong and powerful, and they like to show it off without men around," he says. "It's a blast."

Women's Fundamentals teaches basics like gun handling and selection, and its use as a defensive tool. Participants hoot up to 100 rounds during the four-hour class. There's also a second, more advanced women-only class.

Arizona's constitutional carry law passed in 2010, and the state eliminated the requirement to have a permit to carry a concealed weapon. However, the permitting process still exists, and the story says it's a good idea for safety and legal reasons. You must be 21 or older to take the CCW course, which are usually eight hours long, plus applicants must submit fingerprints and agree to a national criminal background check.

But there are details in the carry law that have to be understood. For instance, only holders of a valid CCW permit may carry a weapon into an establishment that serves alcohol for consumption on the premises, the story says. Even if you have the permit, if you're carrying, you can't buy alcohol or drink.

"Since Constitutional Carry passed, many people feel they have the constitutional right to carry a gun into establishments that serve alcohol for consumption on the premises," Seibert says. "This is not correct, and many are violating the law because they don't know any better. As you can see, there are lots of complexities within just this one law."