New Shooters-Buying Your First Firearm

  • BY PGS

Everyone has advice about the type, calibre and suggested use for new shooters. Over the years we’ve come across a range of advice, both good and bad. Here, we’ve collated opinions from long time shooters, industry experts and fairly new shooters to hear where mistakes were made.


Regardless of type of firearm that’s used, safety is paramount. All firearm users must do the mandatory training as required in their jurisdiction and we also encourage users to get further safety training available through clubs, associations and professional instructors. Safe and responsible gun ownership is also about the safe and secure transport and storage of firearms and this helps protect ourselves and the greater community.

Further, if you intend to hunt, there are a large range of skills required to undertake this and we encourage shooters to be careful, ethical, responsible hunters. Sometimes this will mean finding extra instruction in proper game identification, ethical harvesting and good hunting skills.

Type of Firearm

The first thing new shooters must do is decide what sort of shooting he or she would like to do, as this will inform the type of firearm to be purchased. Firearms include rifles, pistols and shotguns and styles of shooting may be target shooting (conducted on a formal range) or field scenario or a multitude of varieties of hunting. Some firearms require greater licensing and storage requirements and we suggest starting with more common firearms.

If you decide on target shooting, for instance, there are many disciplines within this, to further choose from. They are different as lying down with a rifle to slowly and carefully fire rounds at a target 600m away to quickly shouldering a shotgun to shoot a clay disk flying
through the air. We’ll quickly describe the various common firearms and then give some broad category buying advice.


Clay shooting, bird hunting (duck, quail etc) require a shotgun. Shotguns are offered in a variety of actions with the most common, in the Australian market, being those with two barrels, either configured next to each other ‘side-by-side’ or one above the other ‘over under’. Like all firearms these come in a broad range of affordability.


We’ll cover here those firearms that have a barrel with grooves intended to stabilize the round as it travels along that barrel. Again, there are a large variety of actions available but the most common is the bolt action. This is where a mechanical action closes a round within a breach system with leverage and a locking mechanism and causes the bullet to detonate by way of a firing pin system.


Pistols and revolvers are handguns meant as a more compact form of firearm. Their ownership and use is more greatly restricted than ‘longarms’. Again, the calibres available and cost range is huge.

OK, so some advice

If you’re new to shooting and are about to buy your first firearm, or you’re coming back after a long hiatus, we have some advice;

  • Don’t spend too much on a firearm. Don’t get caught up in marketing hype thinking you have to buy the most expensive firearm available. Buy an inexpensive firearm and make all your mistakes and learn your lessons with that one.
  • Expensive doesn’t mean accurate. For new shooters accuracy is more about patience and practice than the inherent accuracy of most firearms.
  • Get an inexpensive scope as there is huge variation in their application and utility. Slowly work out what you want, through personal experience, then start putting money towards that one.
  • Don’t get sucked into buying all the accessory gear. Slowly choose what you need. More game has been taken while wearing an old pair of boots and jeans than in all the $600 pairs of boots and hunting-specific clothing that’s available.
  • Don’t overlook .22 calibre (in handguns or rifles). It’s an inexpensive, accurate, capable round and most of the same lessons you get shooting 1000m are there (just in a more compact form).
  • Use our service and sell your firearm if it’s not being used. Somebody really wants that shotgun or rifle sitting at the back of your safe.