A Beginner’s Guide to Shooting: Basics for First-Time Visitors at Salt Lake City Gun Range

Welcome to the exciting world of shooting! Whether you’re here out of curiosity, for self-defense, or to embark on a new hobby, we are thrilled to guide you on your journey. The Salt Lake City Gun Range provides a safe, welcoming environment for beginners to learn the basics of handling firearms. Through this guide, we aim to equip you with a foundational understanding of the sport, including safety protocols, shooting techniques, and the etiquette of using a gun range. So, grab your protective gear and let’s dive into the rewarding and responsible sport of shooting.

Choosing the Right Firearm

Choosing the right firearm is crucial for beginners. There’s a wide range of options available, and the best choice depends on your specific needs and comfort levels. For instance, a .22 caliber firearm is often recommended for beginners due to its manageable recoil and lower ammunition cost. If you’re interested in self-defense, handguns like the 9mm are popular choices due to their portability and ease of use. For hunting or long-range shooting, you might want to consider a rifle. The most important thing is to choose a firearm you feel comfortable and safe handling. At Salt Lake City Gun Range, we have a variety of firearms for you to test and experience, and our knowledgeable staff will guide you in making the best choice.

Basic Shooting Techniques

Before launching into specific techniques, it’s essential to understand the basics of how to stand, grip, aim, and breathe when shooting.


Your stance is the foundation of your shooting technique. An effective stance provides balance and stability. The most common stances are the Isosceles and Weaver. In the Isosceles stance, your feet are shoulder-width apart, and your arms are fully extended toward the target forming an isosceles triangle. The Weaver stance involves bending your knees slightly, extending your dominant arm fully, and bending your non-dominant arm at the elbow.


A firm, consistent grip is key to controlling recoil and improving accuracy. Your dominant hand should be high on the gun’s grip, and your non-dominant hand should wrap around, providing additional support.


Aiming involves aligning your sights on the target. Most handguns have a front and rear sight. Proper alignment entails lining up the front sight within the notch of the rear sight and ensuring the top of the front sight is level with the top of the rear sight.

Breath Control

Breath control is crucial to maintain stability and thus accuracy. The common method is to breathe in, breathe out, pause briefly and then fire.

Remember, it takes time and practice to master these techniques, and consistency is key. The Salt Lake City Gun Range provides a controlled, supportive environment where beginners can practice and develop their shooting skills.

Range Etiquette and Safety Tips

Safety is paramount at Salt Lake City Gun Range, and we also uphold a certain level of etiquette to ensure a respectful, enjoyable environment for all. Here are some key points you should know before your visit:

  1. Listen to the Range Officer: The Range Officer is there to ensure everyone’s safety. Always follow their instructions and don’t hesitate to ask them any questions or concerns you might have.
  2. Know When to Load: Firearms should only be loaded when you are at the firing line and the range is declared “hot”. Never load or unload a firearm behind the firing line.
  3. Muzzle Direction: Always point your firearm downrange. This is one of the most fundamental safety rules.
  4. Finger Off the Trigger: Until you are ready to shoot, keep your finger away from the trigger. This helps prevent accidental discharges.
  5. Check Your Surroundings: Be aware of what is in front of and beyond your target. This is essential for preventing accidents.
  6. Clean Up After Yourself: Collect spent shell casings and dispose of them properly. Leave your shooting area as clean as, or cleaner than, you found it.

By following these guidelines and maintaining a high level of awareness, you’ll ensure a safe, respectful environment for everyone at the range. Remember, the key to enjoying the sport of shooting is to act responsibly and always consider safety first.

Understanding Targets and Scoring System

At the Salt Lake City Gun Range, we typically use paper or cardboard targets with concentric scoring rings. The closer your shot lands to the center, or ‘bull’s-eye’, the higher the points you score. Each ring on the target represents a different score. For example, a shot in the outermost ring might score you one point, while a shot in the bull’s eye could earn you a maximum of ten points.

In some shooting exercises, we also use silhouette targets that represent the upper torso of a potential threat. These targets are used particularly for self-defense practice, and scoring is based on the effectiveness of the shot placement in stopping a threat rather than a numerical score.

Scoring can vary depending on the specific shooting discipline or event. Some competitions may involve time as a factor, in which case, the speed of hitting the target could affect your overall score. Regardless, of whether you’re shooting for sport, competition, or self-defense training, the primary focus should always be on safety, control, and accuracy. Our staff at Salt Lake City Gun Range will assist you in understanding the specific scoring systems in play during your visit.

Range Equipment and Accessories

When visiting the Salt Lake City Gun Range, aside from your firearm, there are several essential pieces of equipment and accessories you’ll need. First and foremost, safety equipment. This includes eye protection to shield your eyes from potential debris, and ear protection to guard against the loud noise of gunfire. It’s also recommended that you wear a brimmed hat to deflect ejected shell casings. For shooting, additional equipment like shooting gloves, a shooting mat for lying down positions, and a spotting scope for long-distance shots can be helpful. An ammunition box is a must for carrying and organizing your ammunition. Many shooters also find it beneficial to have a shooting bag or vest to carry their gear, targets, and any personal items. Once again, our team at the Salt Lake City Gun Range is available to guide beginners on necessary and useful accessories to enhance their shooting experience.

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