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Getting Started with Firearms in the United States: The Complete Guide to Firearms for Newbies Paperback – March 25, 2012
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About the Author
Nick Leghorn is a graduate of Penn State University currently working in San Antonio, Texas. He was born in New York City and grew up in the area, the son of a rather strict “anti-gun” family. He shot his first gun in the Boy Scouts and was instantly hooked on shooting sports. While attending Penn State, Nick started practicing Olympic smallbore rifle with the Penn State Rifle team. After only a few months of practice he was performing well enough to begin competing against other schools with the team. During his senior year he started branching out into different types of competitions, including USPSA handgun shooting (production division), NRA/CMP High Power Rifle (Service Rifle division), and eventually 3-gun (Tactical Optics division). He also founded and runs his own competition shooting team, consisting of dozens of members in multiple states and countries, who all compete and share tips and information together. Nick is a writer for The Truth About Guns, the most popular firearms blog in the United States, where he publishes regular articles about firearms, ammunition and related equipment. His main areas of interest in shooting are competition sports, long range accuracy, and scientific testing. He really enjoys using his knowledge of statistics and analytical abilities to solve questions and do interesting experiments with firearms. In his free time (what’s left after writing for TTAG, at least) he’s a volunteer firefighter and EMT with a local fire station and enjoys lockpicking.
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My background: I own a couple of pistols and have had some informal training, but have had no formal training (yet - that will change soon). I go to an indoor gun range occasionally to shoot, and have received a few tips from firearms trainers and a dealer or two. All of that said, I've never had a training session at which all of the basics were explained to me (other than gun safety, of course), and previously knew almost nothing about long guns (rifles and shotguns). This book has helped fill in some of the gaps in my knowledge, and I think it would serve as a fantastic introduction to anyone who wants to start learning about firearms but doesn't know where to begin.
The book goes over the basic types of firearms, the basics of gun safety, common gun-related terminology you're likely to hear (e.g. an explanation of what "caliber" is), what considerations one should make when selecting a gun, basics about range etiquette, and other useful information. It does all of this in a way that the beginner should be able to understand well without going into so much detail that the reader is overwhelmed.
The only thing that he didn't touch on that I might have considered including was a brief discussion about carrying weapons (perhaps briefly going over what "concealed carry" and "open carry" refer to). Given that this is a beginner's book, and that beginners should probably not be carrying their weapons in public until they really understand all of the potential consequences (legal, personal, financial, etc.), I did not think it was a big problem to leave this information out of the book. It's also a difficult issue to discuss in brevity, since there are wildly different laws in nearly every state regarding carrying a weapon outside of the home.
It is not highly technical, so if that's what you're looking for, this isn't the right book for you. There are plenty of other books that go deeper into the details about firearms. The closest it gets to detailed technical information is at the end in the "Articles for Further Reading" section (which includes some more discussion about what firearms one might consider purchasing, more detailed information about triggers, more firearms terminology, and a few other things). That section is still geared towards the beginner, but I think a beginner should make sure they understand all of the information in the previous sections before reading that last section.
And, in response to several comments here, if you already know the basics of firearms, this book is NOT FOR YOU. It's for those people who don't know those basics but want to learn. For that target audience, it is excellent.
I strongly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in firearms but is unsure of where to start. At just $4.99 for the paperback version, it's very inexpensive but quite valuable. I plan to get a few more copies of it and give them to some friends.
I'm not a newbie to firearms, but being out of shooting for quite a few years, I felt I could use a bit of a refresher on terms before I go shopping, and <i>Getting Started with Firearms</i> provides a good, brief overview. There wasn't a lot in here that I didn't already know, but the information was concise and Leghorn's approach is informal, straightforward and approachable. Besides covering the basic types and concepts behind firearms, he talks about how to go gun shopping, how to choose a firearm, and the basics of shooting. Obviously you cannot learn to shoot by reading a book, but this book will make a total novice feel a bit more comfortable about going to a gun shop and asking questions.
There is also a bit of discussion about gun laws. Keep in mind that U.S. gun laws are <em>enormously</em> complicated, since every state and sometimes individual counties and cities have their own rules. What's perfectly legal to do in New Mexico (carry a loaded gun around in your glove compartment) is a felony in New York. Guns you can buy at WalMart in Texas are banned in Maryland. So this book can hardly be considered an authoritative guide to gun laws - to keep yourself out of trouble, you'd better know the laws thoroughly in your state.
<i>Getting Started with Firearms in the United States</i> was generally well edited, with only a few typos I spotted. Some material was recycled from Leghorn's TTAG columns. If you think guns are evil, this book will not change your mind, but while Leghorn is of course unabashedly pro-gun, the tone is informative and mostly neutral; it's not a gun nut's manifesto. Overall, I give it 3.5 stars for readability and usefulness of information, though its usefulness to me was limited. However, for the price it's certainly a good starting point for a budding gun enthusiast.
With the understanding that laws vary across states and even counties and cities - it would benefit from at least providing a list of references or a FAQ to common questions, like: is it legal for me to sell a gun to a private party w/o a NICS background check, is it legal to buy ammo, etc etc etc. Again - understand it highly depends on where you live and who you are - however . . .
He really like them