Over the years, I’ve been to the range to test fire several different firearms and there are still many I haven’t shot. But each time I test a new one, I am a first-time shooter (of that particular weapon). Now, I know, you read the title and are thinking: what in the world is she on about?

Well, hear me out.

We’ve all watched those videos where uninformed, ignorant people fire a high-recoil rifle or shoot a shotgun from the hip and end up hurting themselves. Unfortunately, there is laughter in the background. Don’t get me wrong, I like slap-stick, but let’s evaluate something here:

That person, who ended up hurting themselves, are probably not going to trust whoever allowed them to fire that weapon, again. Second, whoever allowed them to shoot the firearm without giving any instruction allowed the other person to operate the weapon unsafely. There are sometimes instances where more than a bruise on the shoulder or in the abdomen occurs. Serious injury could occur, not just to the person firing the weapon, but others around them as well.

It’s one thing if your buddy says “Ah, I can handle a little kick!” and you let him fire your 458 Win-Mag after informing him. But it’s something entirely different if you let your girlfriend or your buddy from work, you’ve just introduced to rifles, just take a whack at it. There needs to be a little more instruction to safely operate the weapon—even for experienced marksmen.

No matter the experience level, if it’s a weapon you are not familiar with you should do some research and don’t operate it unless you are fully informed. It is both dangerous and often humiliating (which I’m sure is the latter is the point of allowing your friend to shoot the heavy-recoil rifle). But, you shouldn’t have a first-time shooter fire any weapon unless they know the risks to themselves as well as the basic gun safety rules.

The best way to keep from serious injury when test firing a weapon, is knowing how to operate it safely and/or under the supervision of someone who is familiar with it as well. It is also important to understand that if you are the someone who’s supposed to know what they’re doing, you have a responsibility to keep yourself and others safe and still having fun. Leave the slap-stick for a different activity.

Have you ever fired a weapon without knowing you were going unintentionally hurt yourself in the process?

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