If you spend any time around gun stores, gun shows, or even shooting ranges, you’ll hear it. Some guy will always pipe up and contribute what he believes to be pertinent and solid advice. Sometimes, it’s good advice. “If you’re finding the recoil on that .40 to be bad, perhaps dropping to 9mm will help” and such.

Sadly, there is a chance you’ll get advice from someone that may not be qualified to be offering said advice. I believe the technical term to describe this person is “full of it”. For most people that have been shooting for more than..oh...say a couple months or so, it’s pretty easy to spot Mr. Full Of It.  He is in very close relation to the Fun Shark, by the way. Some would say he’s even the same guy. 

For a brand new shooter, the urge to listen to any advice is strong. I’m here to tell you: don’t take his advice. Here is a list of the most common things you’ll hear and why you should just say “Cool story, bro” and move on.

5. You don’t even have to aim a shotgun. Just point it in the general direction of the bad guy and pull the trigger...

This advice comes from someone who’s watched way too many action films. While, yes, the spread of a shot pattern when fired at close range is a bit wider than your average 9mm bullet, it’s still only about 4 to 6 inches, depending. It’s hardly a magic wand that vaporizes bad guys. Heck, use the wrong ammo and you won’t do much more than give the bad guy a nasty rash. The more dangerous part is the thinking that stems from this. Essentially what he’s telling you is, “You don’t need to practice shooting at all. A shotgun is a magic pill solution to your home defense problem”. Like I said, dangerous to you and your surroundings.

Variations on this advice are: “all you need to do is cock the shotgun and they’ll run”

4. If it isn't a .45, you’re wasting your money...

While the .45 is a tremendously wonderful self-defense round, it’s not the Alpha and Omega caliber. Modern day ballistics are amazing and the advances are even more so. Penetration tests have shown very little difference between the larger calibers. Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference. What are you going to use the gun for? How comfortable are you with recoil? What about price of ammo? It’s more important to find the best fit for your needs than to take one blanket solution.

3. What you need, little lady, is a good revolver...

This boils down to one thing: chauvinism. I’m sorry, Slappy, do you seriously believe that women aren't strong enough or skilled enough to handle the complexities of a semi-automatic pistol? Do you want to tell Julie Golob that to her face? Get the gun you want and tell this jerk where to shove his suggestion. 

But hey, if you want a revolver get one. Just make sure it isn't because some misogynist pig told you to get it. 

2. If it was made after 1911, it’s just a plastic toy gun...

We get it, Slappy. You own a 1911. There’s nothing wrong with being proud of your gun. You should be. Heck, I'd be lying if I said I didn't dream of owning one. They’re pretty, they’re good and they have a heck of a history. Just because you own one doesn’t mean everyone should. Be it Springfield vs. Glock, Mac vs. PC, Playstation vs. XBox, Ford vs. Chevy, iPhone vs. Android, Stutz vs. Mercer (bonus points if you understood the last one), it’s a sad truth that every manufacturer has its cult like group of fanboys no matter what industry. Get the gun that you like and don’t let a fanboy make you feel bad about your purchase.

1. If you shoot someone in your front yard, make sure you drag them into the house...

If I had a dollar for every time I've heard this, I’d have a crapload of dollars. Strangely enough, I tend to hear this the most from non-gun owners or really, really old gun owners. Let me say this now: This is terrible advice. I cannot stress how terrible this advice is. While many states do have a castle doctrine in place as well as stand your ground laws, if it isn't a cut and dry case things are going to get dicey from a legal perspective. A lot has been said about the “CSI Effect” where juries are putting too much faith in forensic evidence as a result of those TV shows. In this case, however, it is VERY simple to tell if a body has been moved. Even if you were 100% justified with shooting the person in your front yard, if you move that body, things move into a grey area that will make your life VERY difficult. 

Don’t bother to try and correct this person. At this point, if they honestly believe that, there is no reasoning with that person. Granted, they may have come from a time, many years ago, when this actually was solid advice. Even if you explain it to them and they realize the error of their ways, they’ll more than likely be saying it again within a month, mark my words.

Other variations are “make sure you put two bullets in the ceiling afterwards” or “make sure you yell ‘they’re coming right for us!’”.

The best thing you can do is know the law. Owning a gun is a big responsibility. Ignorance of the law is not a defense in court. There are plenty of places to read up on the laws to your local area. I don’t know how it is elsewhere but I know that pretty much all the gun stores here in FL sell a booklet specifically geared towards explaining the state’s gun laws in plain English. Remember: knowing is half the battle.

So there we are. I get the feeling that this won't be the only installment of "worst advice". 


Image used under creative commons license from JD Hancock.