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Getting Started in Target Shooting

image Introduction

You want to learn more about target shooting, but you’re not sure where to begin. Well, whether you realize it or not, you already have, just by visiting our website.

As much fun as target shooting is, getting started can be both frustrating and intimidating, especially if you don’t have a friend or family member you can turn to for advice. So if you feel a little overwhelmed as you start out, be assured that this is not unusual.

On this page we’ll give you some general guidelines to help get you started. Please realize that what you read here should be considered "food for thought." It should not be construed as recommendations or legal advice, which, most certainly, it is not intended to be.

Because laws, rules, regulations, and procedures vary from place to place we will, of necessity, assume that you are a resident of Westchester County, New York (the county in which the Coyne Park Range is located) and that you want to learn more about what you need to do to shoot at our range.

Basically, there are two kinds of guns you can shoot at the Coyne Park Range. These are rifles and handguns. However, you cannot legally own and shoot a handgun without first obtaining a pistol license, which is a somewhat involved and lengthy procedure, so let’s set that aside for the moment and we’ll get back to it a little later.

image Rifles

With regard to rifles you can shoot at our range, you can choose either a .22 caliber (rimfire) rifle or a carbine rifle that is chambered for standard handgun ammunition.(1) These rifles come in several types, namely bolt action, lever action, autoloading, and single shot in the former instance, and lever action and autoloading in the latter instance. Starting prices for .22 caliber rifles can be relatively inexpensive depending on the brand and type. At the bottom of this page, strictly for your edification and convenience, are links to a number of sites where you can learn more about these different types of .22 caliber rimfire and carbine rifles, as well as the offerings from these companies. This listing is not intended to be complete nor are we recommending any of these products just because they happen to be listed.(2)

Once you’ve decided (or think you’ve decided) on the type of rifle you want, it’s time to go shopping.(3) Explain to the firearms dealers you visit that you’re just getting started as a target shooter and that you’re interested in a .22 caliber rifle (or a carbine rifle chambered for standard handgun ammunition) of whatever type(s) you may be considering. If the dealer suggests a type other than the one you may have been considering, be sure the dealer’s reasons make sense to you. Remember, you will be the one doing the actual shooting. As such, the rifle you buy should be one that you are most comfortable with – so be sure to handle and get the "feel" of whatever you are considering before making the actual purchase.(4) And think twice before buying anything sight unseen – because you may not be happy with it once it arrives at your dealer, and the dealer may be unwilling to refund your money. This is not necessarily unreasonable given that the rifle was ordered especially for you.

Dealers often have a selection of previously owned rifles that may appear to be more in line with your budget. Realize, however, that while the rifle may look quite good on the outside, there are many internal parts that are not readily visible and these may be well worn so, as the expression goes, "let the buyer beware."

Be sure to have the dealer thoroughly explain how to properly use, clean, and store your new or previously owned rifle, and if it is the latter, be sure you obtain a suitable warranty from the dealer since the original warranty will likely have long since expired or may not be transferable.

Once you purchase your rifle be sure you read and understand the owner’s manual, which, among other things, will cover, in great detail, the safety aspects of using the rifle. If the rifle you purchased was previously owned and did not come with the owner’s manual, you can contact the manufacturer for a copy. If the manufacturer is no longer in business this does pose a problem, so you might want to be sure to do your homework and verify that the manufacturer is still in business before making your purchase. The other thing to consider is that the older the rifle the more difficult it may become to get replacement parts although this is not a hard and fast rule.

Then it’s time to visit our range and try out your new purchase. We stock .22 caliber and other popular ammunition calibers (check in advance for availability) at competitive prices. We also sell targets and rent eye and ear protection if you have not purchased your own.

Our range officers will assist you in getting started but there is a limit to how much personal attention they can give you. As such, and because safety is paramount, we do offer and recommend that you consider taking our NRA FIRST STEPS Orientation course, which is designed for new shooters. This course consists of a one-on-one, three-hour session – using your rifle – that provides you with a thorough introduction to firearm safety, handling, and shooting skills. Approximately two hours are spent in the classroom and one hour on the range. Upon satisfactory completion of this course you will receive an NRA FIRST STEPS Orientation completion certificate. Please go here for additional information about this course.

image Handguns

As noted earlier, you cannot legally own and shoot a handgun without first obtaining a pistol license which, as also noted, is a somewhat involved and lengthy procedure.

Before you can file your application for a license you must first have satisfactorily completed a pistol safety course, which we offer at our range. Be aware that our course is given by instructors who have been certified by both the National Rifle Association (NRA) and the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association (NYSRPA). We cover virtually every aspect of the different types of handguns on the market as well as the safety aspects you must consider in loading, shooting, and cleaning a handgun. We also cover the application process in detail and alert you to the pitfalls you may encounter in filling out the application forms. Moreover, once you have your license and handgun you will be entitled to one hour on the range with one of our NRA Certified Range Safety Officers, at no additional cost (other than normal range usage fees). You will not regret having taken this course with us. For additional information about what this course offers please go here.

image Practice Makes Perfect

After you have tried out shooting your rifle or handgun, don’t just put it away and forget about it. In order to continue feeling comfortable with your gun, you should practice using it on a regular basis. We recommend you come to the range and practice at least once a week.

image In Conclusion

So, there you have it. These are the general guidelines to get you started. And don’t be discouraged if the task seems daunting at first because you will find that in the end it was worth it. There’s nothing like the thrill and excitement of taking your first shots and hitting a bullseye. Chances are that once you do, you’ll be hooked on target shooting, and in a while you may want to expand your horizons to other aspects of the shooting sports as well.

Please visit the other pages on our site for additional information. And if you have any questions give us a call and we’ll try our best to answer them for you.

Editor’s note: If you believe there is something we might have included on this page, but did not, please e-mail the and we will take your comments into consideration.


1. Please recognize that .22 caliber rimfire ammunition is much less costly than hangun ammunition, which is something you may want to consider when choosing a rifle for target shooting. Moreover, it has been reported that some dealers will not sell you handgun ammunition for these carbines unless you also possess a valid pistol license and, in some further instances, that the pistol license confirms that you own a handgun of the same caliber as the carbine for which you desire to buy ammunition. Keep this in mind so that you don't wind up owning a carbine rifle chambered for handgun ammunition for which you then have difficulty purchasing the neccessary ammo.

2. The following are links to a number of sites where you can learn more about different types of rifles as well as the offerings from these companies of rifles you can shoot at our range. Please recognize that: (a) this listing is not all-inclusive, (b) this listing does not imply endorsement of those listed, or lack of endorsement of those not listed, (c) this listing is provided strictly for the convenience of visitors to this site, (d) we are not responsible for the content or privacy practices of these sites.

.22 Caliber Rimfire Rifles:

Carbine Rifles chambered for standard handgun ammunition:

3. Although the law permits you to make this purchase once you reach the age of 18, we understand that some dealers will not engage in this transaction if you are under 21 unless you are accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.

4. Be aware that you will undergo a background check through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) as part of this transaction.

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