Gun Shop Etiquette for First-Time Buyers
Walking into a gun shop for the first time can be an intimidating experience for anybody. You may have an image of gun shops run by old-timers or firearm snobs who look down on beginners — but in reality, that’s hardly ever the case. Remember that the staff there has a vested interest in helping you make the right purchase. After all, a good experience can turn a first-timer into a life-long customer. Hunters, for example, take an average of 21 trips every year — compared to just 4.97 trips for campers in 2012 — so owners want to keep you coming back for supplies, ammo, maintenance, and more.
At the same time, there are some basic etiquette rules everyone should follow when shopping for guns. Whether you’re in the hunting gear section of a sporting goods store or a mom-and-pop shop in the countryside, follow these rules and you’ll be a welcome customer anywhere.
- Treat every gun as if it’s loaded. This is an important firearm safety rule no matter where you go. The clerk should show you that the gun is empty before handing it over to you, but you should always check again yourself. As you test the configuration, never point the muzzle at anyone or anything. Some gun shops will have a wall target to aim at; if not, use the ceiling or floor — or ask for an appropriate direction to point.
- Always ask permission before testing the trigger. This goes along with treating every weapon as if it’s loaded, but there’s more to it than that. Of course, you will want to test the feel of a trigger before you purchase a gun, but dry-firing can actually cause damage to some models. Ask the clerk before pulling on the trigger, and most of the time they will say yes.
- Have some idea of what you want. Newcomers to guns are often surprised at just how many types there are out there. It’s worthwhile to do some online research before you walk into a store, and to be clear about why you want a gun: personal protection, big-game hunting, target practice, etc. The more you can tell the clerk, the better they’ll be able to help you make the right decision.
You’ll find that most gun shops are staffed with friendly, knowledgeable workers who are eager to assist you. But purchasing a gun is not a decision to be taken lightly. Show the staff the respect they deserve, and they will do the same for you.