The first and most important step after purchasing your first firearm is to get the appropriate training. There is a lot of responsibility and etiquette that comes along with owning a firearm. You must learn proper safety, how to use the firearm and the laws that govern how you can use it.

Practice Firearm Safety

Even before you bring that first firearm home from the store, do some research on the specific make and model you will be buying. Also, do not open ammunition and never load a firearm until you are completely comfortable and knowledgeable about your specific model.

Safety training can be done in a variety of ways and can be found at numerous places. The National Rifle Association’s training department offers dozens of courses all over the country. Just type in your zip code on their website and find the nearest classes.

You can also enroll in online courses. Many local governments offer online safety certifications for both youth and adults. Be careful about where you take online courses. Some web resources will be more reputable than others. Stick to known organizations or municipal websites.

Get Familiar with the Firearm

It’s always a good idea to actually try out the tools you purchase so you know how to use them when you need them. The same rings true with a firearm. Whether you purchase a handgun for self-defense or a rifle for hunting, either take it to a range for some hands-on learning or take a course for your specific needs.

Don’t let shooting ranges intimidate you. There are many good folks working at ranges, and they are often great resources for beginners. Simply ask for help and tell them you’re a beginner. They will either help you or recommend someone or somewhere for you to find a comfortable solution.

Another way to learn about your firearm is to take a course. Again, there are many courses on firearm operation, so find the one that represents your needs. That could be a self-defense course, a deer hunting course, a target shooting course or one of hundreds more. SIG SAUER, Thunder Ranch, Gunsite Academy, and Combat Focus offer a lot of hands-on courses. Or simply check your yellow pages or do an online search for your nearest resource like the Personal Defense Network.

Become Familiar with Local Firearm Laws

Finally, you need to get familiar with your state and local firearm legislation. Gun laws vary from city to city, so make sure you know the law in your specific state, as well as any state you may frequently take the firearm.

There are many firearm regulation laws on the books across the United States. Here are the essential laws you should know in your state before you begin using your firearm:

- What are the self-defense laws?

- What certifications do I need?

- Can I open or conceal carry?

- How do I transport?

- Should I and do I need to register the firearm?

- What businesses can I take it into?

Stay safe!