4 common mistakes beginners make when handling a gun

Though they may be a lot of fun to shoot, firearms are not toys. They are deadly tools, which can cause a lot of problems if used or handled improperly. Unfortunately, most of the knowledge an average person has about firearms comes from watching movies, and more often than not, they tend to make some major mistakes when handling a firearm for the first time.

In the world of weapons, particularly firearms, even the smallest mistakes carry severe consequences. Even seemingly the most inconsequential of errors, could result in Life-threatening injuries, legal complications, and even death. In short, a firearm isn’t something you want to mess around with, or you may just end up ruining lives, or worse, ending them.

So, in this post, we are going to talk about the 4 most common and serious mistakes beginners make when handling a firearm.

1. Not complying with the 4 rules of firearm safety:

If you are handling a firearm for the first time, it is essential that you learn about the four cardinal rules of firearm safety.

These rules are:

  • Treat every weapon as if it is loaded until you have cleared it.
  • Never point the weapon toward anything you don’t intend to destroy
  • Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to fire
  • Know your target, and what’s beyond it.

Whenever you handle a firearm, you need to consider it as loaded. This means treating the weapon with respect and understanding the power it possesses. Many accidents happen because people shoot others with a weapon that they believe to be unloaded.

As a continuation of this concept, you should never point the weapon toward anyone or anything you’re not willing to destroy. This concept is called muzzle discipline, and it can help prevent severe accidents that can be caused as a result of  accidental discharges, and other malfunctions or mistakes.

The third rule teaches the concept of trigger discipline. It states that your finger should stay off the trigger until you are ready to shoot. This is one of the most prevailing oversights made by beginners while  handling a firearm, and should worst come to pass, it can lead to accidental shots that can injure or even kill the shooter themself or the people around them.

The lack of trigger discipline often leads to accidental discharge when shooters are trying to reholster their pistols. Even experienced shooters can make this mistake sometimes, and they may end up shooting their own leg. You can find several videos of this exact accident happening to shooters on YouTube.

Last but not least, it is imperative to understand that bullets, especially high caliber rounds fired from rifles, can have a lot of penetrating power. Therefore, to prevent accidents caused by over penetration, it is important to know what is behind the target that you are shooting. Keep in mind that even if there is no one behind your target, there could be an object that flammable, or something that coil ricochet the bullet, and endanger others at the range.

2. Not Storing their firearms safely:

Another drastic oversight that can be attributed to several novice, and even some experienced gun owners, is unsafe firearm storage. Every Year, many children and teenagers are injured or killed in firearm-related accidents that are directly caused because of the unsafe storage of firearms in homes.

It is important to store your firearms in a safe, or locked storage area, where they can easily be accessed by children. Also, if you keep firearms in your home, you need to teach your kids about firearm safety and help them understand that guns are weapons, not toys. This can also significantly help in the prevention of firearm-related accidents.

Gun theft is also a major problem that new firearm owners should be aware of, and safe storage can help in its prevention as well.

3. Not listening to their instructor:

Whenever a beginner handles a firearm for the first time, they should have an instructor or experienced shooter with them, who can teach them how to hold the weapon when shooting it and help them avoid common mistakes.

However, some new shooters make the major mistake of not listening to their instructors. They get impressed by the “Cool Factor” of guns and start doing things that are unsafe, or in some cases, borderline stupid. They may try to shoot their weapon like they do in action films, or maybe take photos with the guns, while completely ignoring the rules of firearm safety.

It all comes down to respecting the firearm, and the damage it can inflict. Once that is established, people tend to handle firearms with much more care.

4. Not learning about common malfunctions and how to clear them:

A lot of firearm-related accidents at the shooting range are caused when shooters don’t know how to handle malfunctions properly, and to make the firearm safe after a malfunction occurs.

For instance, light primer strikes, or sometimes old ammunition can cause a hangfire. This means that the bullet doesn’t fire as soon as you pull the trigger, and the primer may take some time to light up and send the bullet down range. If a beginner doesn’t know that they should keep the barrel pointed downrange for a few seconds after a light primer strike, they may end up pointing it in an unsafe direction, or maybe even towards themselves.

Similarly, several other malfunctions like bump fires under recoil, obstructed barrels, and failure to eject can sometimes cause serious accidents if the shooter doesn’t know how to handle them. So, learning about common malfunctions, and how to clear them to make the firearm safe is an essential skill that beginner shooters should learn to avoid weapon mishandling and accidents.


So, to sum it all up, it is important to understand the level of damage a firearm can inflict on a person’s life. Instructors and experienced shooters need to adequately convey the consequences of a single mistake to beginners, and help them develop a respect for the weapon while teaching them how to effectively use it as well. With the right training, and an active focus on the four fundamental laws of firearms safety, these mistakes, and others can be avoided.

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