Getting Started - a Guide for New Shooters

Date: 23-11-2020


If you’ve ever thought about giving shooting a go but were unsure of what to expect or where to start you’re not alone. You might be looking for a new hobby or wanting to try something new. You may know somebody who knows somebody who shoots competitively or you may just have seen some cool videos on YouTube. If this sounds like you, but you have no idea where to begin, we’ve put together a basic guide for getting started and what to expect on your first day at the range. With Covid restrictions easing and the Christmas break coming up, now is the perfect time to check it out!

Your first step is to locate a range/firearms club near you and get in contact. Membership of an approved club is essential because you cannot apply for a firearms licence without it. Visiting a club range will also equip you with the skills and knowledge necessary to operate a firearm safely. Most clubs these days will have a website through which you can contact them, otherwise you can give them a call or pay them a visit for a chat. This may sound intimidating but it’s important to remember that most clubs are super keen to recruit new members and will probably be stoked to show you the ropes. If you’re still a little apprehensive, why not try it out with a mate, partner, or family member? Shooting is a great community and family sport, and you may find it’s something you’ll share for many years to come!


From here, your next step will be to arrange a time to visit the range. Every club does things a little differently, but many offer a “Try Shooting” program where the facilities are booked for this very purpose. Depending on range availability, the wait time could be between one or two days to a couple of weeks.

On the day you’ll normally join a group of around 2 – 5 people and kick off with a meet and greet over coffee. This gives your instructors a chance to get to know a bit more about you, and why you’re interested in learning to shoot. At this stage you’ll also have some paperwork to fill out. This will differ from state to state but you’ll need to answer some questions designed to assess your suitability to handle a firearm, and provide criminal history and mental health details. Your instructor or membership officer will be able to answer any questions you may have at this point.

Before you hit the range you’ll also need some safety training. Your instructor will take you through the basics of firearms safety and you may get the chance to familiarise yourself with a mock firearm. Make sure you pay attention, and remember your instructors possess a wealth of knowledge so if you’re not clear on something make sure you ask questions. It’s their job to make sure you understand your responsibilities on the range, so they will appreciate that you’re engaged – especially when it comes to safety.

Now comes the fun part – a tour of the range and a one on one shoot with your instructor. They’ll usually start you off with a small calibre and let you have a go at hitting the target. It’s important to relax, remember your safety training, and keep asking questions. You’ll have the chance to get a feel for your firearm and get some tips and advice from an expert.

You’ll end the day with a debrief and a chat. You’ll discuss how you felt about the day, whether you’d like to come back, and what your next step is. Your membership officer can then take you through the process of becoming a member and obtaining a licence, including fees, paperwork, background checks, practice shoots etc. Most clubs require you to be recommended by a member so they may ask you to come back for a couple more shoots before starting the process of becoming a probationary member.

So what advice would we give to someone interested in getting started? The consensus here at Grycol seems to be that the best thing you can do is take your time, visit a few clubs, and try everything before committing. Different clubs offer different comps and disciplines, so shop around until you find something you love. Your choice of discipline will inform the make and model of your first firearm.

We also recommend getting to know other shooters at the range, you’ll learn a lot and you’ll make some great mates. Shooters love to chat about their sport – and most will tell you that the friendship and community found on the range is one of the biggest reasons they keep going back. The club officials are always very friendly and will make it easy for you to slot right in – the whole idea is to make a prospective member feel as comfortable as possible.

At the end of the day, you’re not going to know unless you try, so if you’ve been contemplating trying out one of the fastest growing sports in the country, we highly recommend giving it a shot.