It doesn’t matter when or why you decided to join the ranks of law-abiding gun owners; now you’re here, and millions of like-minded Americans welcome you!But merely owning a firearm and being responsible doesn’t magically make you safe. You must develop the necessary attitude, knowledge and skills to be confident and competent if ever you must use it. But before you can do so, you’ll need a few more things to begin your training.
Eye and ear protection. If you don’t own polycarbonate (ANSI Z87-rated) eyewear you’ll need some. They won’t stop a bullet, but they’ll save your eyes from the rare but more prevalent threat of high-pressure gasses and ricochet fragments. If you plan on practicing at an indoor range, go with clear lenses; for outdoors I prefer sunglasses. While you can pay hundreds for Costas, Oakleys and others, equally effective “eye pro” costs less than $20.
You’ll also need “ears.” Foam earplugs (under $1 at the range) are cheap, effective and cool in the summer. Other shooters prefer ear muffs. Some gurus combine plugs with muffs. I recommend investing in electronic hearing protection so you can hear range commands yet remain protected from damaging noises.
Cleaning kit. As the old saying goes, if you shoot a gun, you clean a gun, because cleanliness is vital to reliability. Buy a do-all pistol cleaning kit like this http://www.winchesterguncare.com/universal-gun-cleaning-kits-1/item-363240-22-piece-pistol-cleaning-kit, add a clean/lubricate liquid product and learn the basics of gun cleaning.
Holster. Stashing a gun in your closet or locking in your console isn’t conducive to saving your life; having it on your person is. Even if you don’t plan on carrying concealed or becoming a Navy SEAL, an outside-the-waistband, strong-side belt holster will make your range experience safer and more enjoyable--and will help develop necessary skills should you decide to carry later. You don’t need an expensive holster, just one that works for you and your body/dress style.
Ammo. You need two basic types of ammo; practice ammo and premium self-defense ammo. Practice ammo, also called “target” or “range” ammo, is loaded with less costly components. It’s great for targets because it’s cheaper, but it’s not the stuff you want loaded in your handgun when your life’s on the line. Most practice handgun ammo is designated FMJ (Full Metal Jacket), while premium ammo is often branded with trademarked bullet names. For example, Winchester's premium Personal Protection line of ammo features the company's controlled-expansion, deep-penetrating bullet it calls Silvertip. A couple hundred rounds of practice ammo should be fired through your handgun just to break it in, and many more for mastering it. So for starters, buy at least four boxes of practice ammo and one box of premium ammo for use if ever your handgun is called into actual defensive duty
After purchasing these accessories, it’s time to become familiar with your new handgun, learn the fundamentals of safety, then hit the range--where the fun begins.