Giving guns as gifts, especially to new shooters, can be tricky. Once you’ve zeroed-in on the firearm that’s right for your loved one, it’s time to think about accessories. Have you considered the necessary gear that the new shooter will need to enjoy their new gun? Giving a firearm without the proper accessories is like giving a battery-operated gift without the batteries or a camera without an SD card! So what accessories are easily chosen and given as gifts?
Basic Firearms Course
A basic firearms course is a great idea if the gift recipient is not familiar with firearms. In fact, I would say that it is necessary for every new gun owner to take a basic firearms course. Perhaps the best place to look for a course and offer to pay for it is at the NRA. There is a Home Firearm Safety Course which covers the basics of firearms ownership, safe storage of guns and ammo, and is an “in class” course. There is no shooting during this course.
The pistol, rifle, and shotgun courses all offer basic instruction on use of the firearm all the way to reloading the ammunition too. Last but not least, there are three personal protection courses ranging from in home, outside of the home and defensive courses too!
A new firearm is exciting and the excitement includes getting a chance to fire it and learn how to accurately put rounds downrange. Be sure to gift the new gun owner some ammunition so that they can go use the firearm. Ammunition is tough to find in some cases so do not delay if this goes along with a gift. (Here’s our list of places to check.) If you are unaware of what ammunition is best for the firearm, seek guidance from a knowledgeable sales associate at the gun shop. Some firearms, particularly semi-automatics, function better with certain types of ammunition.
Hearing and Eye Protection
Don’t give a gift that keeps on giving in the form of hearing loss. Give some good hearing protection with the firearm. Back in the old days ear plugs worked well and they can work well today. However, muffs do a better job in most cases.
I run a youth outdoor club, and a few years ago I began getting frustrated because as I was giving firearms instruction to the kids I had to have them take off their hearing protection after stopping all firing on the line so I could say something. It became a hassle.
Then I wrote a request for a grant and received funds for electronic muffs that suppress the gunshots but allow users to hear normal voice commands. This was a major plus in my shooting instruction and the juniors like them so much better. Everyone can hear commands on the range, and I can work one on one without having to remove ear protection while handing a firearm. (The electronic muffs I prefer to use are the Walker Razor muffs).
Eye protection should go without saying, but I’m saying it! For years I went without it, and then I had a piece of powder come back and catch me in the eye one day. That remedied my bad nonchalant attitude. There are a variety of well-made safety glasses out there that are not expensive.
Everyone needs to keep their firearm clean. A cleaned and maintained firearm will not let you down. The only failures I have ever had with my firearms with 45 years of shooting experience is when I failed to clean the gun properly and the rare occasion when I did not work the action properly.
Cleaning kits come in all price ranges. Solvent, the proper bore brushes, patches and cleaning rods are the basics that should be included. Gun bench mats for cleaning and protecting the finish on a firearm and cleaning vises or range boxes like MTM’s Shooting Range box are great gifts. These simple tools keep the firearms functioning for years to come.
A gun owner needs targets to practice and sight-in with. New shooters like to see the results of their shooting. My favorite targets to use for this purpose are Birchwood Casey’s ShootNC targets. These targets give instant feedback for the shooter by showing a bright colored yellow or pink (depending on what you get) splotch where the round impacts.
Having a stack of targets like this will put a smile on the shooter’s face every time. They also help the mentor or instructor advise corrections in real time without having to pull targets or use optics to see where the rounds struck.