Firearm Safety For New Gun Owners 2020

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Gun safety is the most important thing when handling firearms.

In this basic firearm safety guide, we gonna talk about how to safe with firearms for first-time gun owners, around children, at the range, shooting steel targets, and more.

You will learn the dos and donts that arent so obvious until someone points them out to you.

Since there is a surge in firearm purchases in 2020 due to COVID 19 & civil unrest, we strongly believe in promoting gun safety content as much as we can to inform & educate people at all experience levels.

It's your responsibility to be safe around guns, so let's get started…

7 Basic Firearm Safety Rules

  1. Treat every gun as if it's loaded
  2. Finger off the trigger until ready to shoot
  3. Always positively identify the target, line of sight and what's beyond before sending rounds down range
  4. Always point the muzzle away from things you don't wish to destroy
  5. Always remove ammo source first before performing any malfunction clearing actions
  6. Always visually and physical check gun chamber to be empty before disassembling, storage and hand over to
  7. Always wear eyes and ears protection when discharging a firearm

Shooting For The First Time

teaching new shooter how to shoot
Someone who has never shot before - 1 round in the mag first

Some people who consume gun content on the internet or video games can pick up the "gun thing" fairly quickly and get used to it.

However, some people still require a little guidance especially if it's their first time.

  • If teaching a new shooter, load one bullet on their first try so if something goes wrong there is no chance a second round will go off
  • Proper grip especially for pistols and revolvers - Extremely Important
  • Based on initial impression, never give a new unfamiliar shooter a high recoil gun. Start small and work their way up with confidence
  • Be aware of support hand placement around the muzzle when shooting short barrel guns with super short handguards.

Basic Gun Safety

Long guns

long gun safety selector

Most long guns like AK, AR, MP5, SIG MPX...etc have large external safety selectors, and it's visible and easy to operate. They're either FIRE or NO FIRE

But... NOT all handguns have them.


Glock 19 streamlight tlr 8 holster draw
Finger off the trigger

There are handguns with external safeties and ones without, and it's important to understand why some guns benefit from it and others don't.

The most common questions new gun owners ask when buying a modern striker-fired handgun is:

Where is the safety on this thing? - Buyer

There is none! and here is why - Gun sales person

Many semi-auto handguns like the Glock pistols are designed to have safe action trigger internals instead of having a big external thumb safety.

You can drop it, kick it and it will not go off unless someone placed the finger on the trigger and squeezed it all the way back.

The idea is to eliminate human error during stressful situations where the shooter forgets to switch off the safety, and the bad guy is literally in front of their faces.

Note: There are also handguns available with external safeties

Indoor Range Safety

Indoor range lanes

All firearm safety rules outlined above applies at an indoor range, however, there are couple more things to be aware to keep you and other safe!

Watch Out For These Potential Safety Hazards

  • People taking selfies, pointing the muzzle all over the place
  • New shooters sway the muzzle across the range while being filmed by friends
  • Guys not paying attention when sexy female shooters are around
  • Bring a jammed gun out of the range to the shop counter asking for help
  • Pointing the weapon light attached to a loaded pistol for up close tasks in low light
  • Forget to check or empty the chamber after the magazine removal
  • Messing with guns and ammo on the back table behind the firing line
  • Picking up brass in a unsafe manner
  • Accidently shot through the lane separator during reloading with a trigger happy finger
  • Hot brass entering shirts, female cleavage or sandals causing immediate hot brass freakout moment with a loaded firearm
  • Poor sight alignment ricocheting off the ceiling plate
  • Placing muzzle brake too close to things not wish to destroy
  • Takes off hearing protections without checking the surrounding, then someone on the far lane obscured by the lane stalls discharges rounds

Outdoor Range Safety

Same like the indoor range, but the shooters are required to go down range to set up and retrieve targets, so it's important to notify everyone around you

"Cease fire!" Or "Range is cold"

Until everyone on the firing line gives a thumb up and cleared their chambers, then safely head downrange.

It's also important for people staying at the shooting booth who are not going down range to change targets, not to touch any ammo or handle any firearms while people are still downrange.

Accidents do happen when a friend or someone else fiddling with guns and accidentally discharge rounds when people are still downrange.

Usually range safety officers are responsible for making sure no one gets hurt, but they can't catch everything. So everyone is a range safety officer to call out any unsafe act.

Steel Targets

steel target bullet impact

Shooting steel targets is super fun when the sound of impact signals you the hit far away. People use it for competition and long range shooting.

If you shoot steel targets, it's important to understand that the bullet ricochet and impact splash will cut the ground & near by objects pretty good, and potentially bounce back hitting the shooter.

So... distance, deflection angle, and the quality of the steel are the major safety factors people need to consider when placing steel targets downrange.

AR500 or AR550 grade steel are great for pistol and centerfire rifle rounds.

Generally speaking, placing a steel target 10 yards and beyond is safe for pistol caliber bullets, and 100 & 200 yards for magnum rifle rounds like 300 Win Mag & 338 Lapua.

For point blank steel shooting, you MUST use frangible ammo that turns into dust upon impact.

Point blank distance, feels like sand blowing back

It's safe and there is no sharp lead pieces are bouncing back hitting the shooters but costs more per round.

Tannerite Exploding Targets


Tannerite is an exploding target. It's great for long-range shooters so they can positively identify a hit.

But be super careful with it! It is super dangerous that can cause major destruction.

Tannerite can be legally purchased at some outdoor stores, and the ATF has confirmed that it's legal to possess and shoot, and it will not violate any existing laws.

These targets are generally for people who have a large land out in the country. It's fun to shoot, but unless you know someone who has the facility to shoot this, most people just don't get the chance to shoot one at all.

Do not shoot this target on public land or anywhere you're not sure of even in the middle of Nevada desert. You could be fined if caught by BLM (Bureau of Land Management)

If you're shooting this please keep a safe distance up to 100 yards at about 1/4 pound. If you increase the size, then push it to 200 yards or further.

WARNING: Never place the tannerite pod near anything sharp objects that could fly towards the shooter during the explosion especially up close.

tannerite target safety warning

Banned at:

  • Most forest services
  • Bureau of Land Management
  • Some remote outdoor ranges due to fire hazard
  • Some city limits
  • Some private properties


If you shoot in the outdoors, please do not shoot at any hard objects like rocks, water, or anything that could splash ricochet.

Ricochet can be lethal and deadly only if it bounces back hitting the shooter. Therefore it's not smart or safe to shoot at rocks or anything hard up close.

Also, please do not shoot water and assume it will penetrate through based on misinformation. When a bullet strikes at an acute angle, it will ricochet.

The reason is that the bullet flies so fast and the water surface acts like a solid, so it deflects it immediately.

Depend on what bullet you're shooting, the angle and how fast it travels, it could do the followings:

  • Deflect
  • Tumble
  • Skiing

Watch this below:

rifle round hitting water ricochet