Expert poll: What’s the best advice you were given as a new shooter?

As a new shooter, it’s common to be bombarded with advice – both useful and not-so-useful – and some of it is even conflicting! It’s hard to know which tips are going to help you improve quickly, and which may even hold you back.

So recently I went round the traps and asked some leading ladies – elite athletes and shooting industry pros alike – what they consider to be the best piece of advice they received when they were just starting out in shooting.

Kirsten Joy Weiss

Kirsten Joy Weiss

Kirsten Joy Weiss

Champion and Professional Performance Shooter

“I was given a few key pieces of advice when I first started by both my mom and dad, but since it was on a larger caliber rifle, I was a little afraid of the kick to be honest. So the piece of advice I remember really well and that has given me confidence to try even .50 calibers, is to LEAN into the gun/recoil. The bigger the gun, the more you lean your body into the buttplate (on a rifle) but similar principles apply for pistol too. It seems counterintuitive, but works!”


Anette Wachter

U.S. National Rifle Team, 30 Cal Gal

“I have been given a lot of advice over the years and especially when starting out 10 years ago. But one piece I have always used was to make a range checklist. I have a checklist for each discipline I shoot whether going to range to practice or especially to a match. It lists not only accessories needed for shooting that day but also important side items such as sunscreen, basic medical kit, snacks, etc. It is a real bummer if you forget something important that can affect your performance and your day. Eliminate as many variables as you can!”


Tiffany Piper

USA National Woman’s NRA Action Pistol Champion

“Every match prepares you for something, that one step closer to bettering yourself.”


Aislin Jones

Australian Olympic Skeet Shooter

“It’s poorly understood how important gun fit is in shotgun shooting. At my first coaching session I got probably the best advice from when I was new and that was to get a custom fit or adjustable stock. Adjustable stocks are great for juniors because the gun can grow with the the shooter. ”

Athena Lee

Athena Lee

Athena Lee

Two-time Ladies Open IPSC World Champion

“It’s kinda hard to remember what the best piece of advice I was given because it was such a long time ago (25 years!)… But if I could go back in time and give my new shooter self an advice, it would be to take things one step at a time and build a rock solid foundation.”


Barbara Baird

Publisher, Women’s Outdoor News

“Learn the fundamentals: position, grip, breath control, sight alignment, trigger press, follow through. Apply at a pace that you can control until ready to move or speed up.”


Becky Lou Lacock

Founder, Becky Lou Outdoors

“Some of the best advice I can pass along to a new shooter is to always take your time to do things correctly from the start. Bad habits formed in the beginning are extremely hard to break later. Take every tip you are offered seriously and never ever forget that safety is always first. If you are uncomfortable with the way someone handles a gun around you, speak up and voice your concern immediately. Anyone will tell you that I will be first to call foul on even the most experienced shooter. If someone takes offense, it is their problem, not yours. Accidental discharges don’t just happen to novice shooters, they happen to everyone.”

Darcie Morton

Darcie Morton

Darcie Morton

Australian Biathlon Team – Winter Youth Olympian

“To really relax,  to pull the trigger slowly, and  to have a routine that you always follow.”


Jacqueline Durham

Australian Ladies Skeet Champion

“The best piece of advice I was given as a new shooter was to not be so hard on myself. Nobody started in AA, and everyone has days where their shooting isn’t up to the standard they would like. Beating yourself up or putting yourself down doesn’t help your confidence. Try to take positives out of the bad days and enjoy the fact that you’re out there doing something you love.”


Karla Blowers

Two-time Consecutive Ladies Open IPSC World Champion

“Shoot A’s, speed will come later.”


Reanna Kadic

Reanna Kadic

Reanna Kadic

Freedom Munition Team Member, and 3 Gun Nation Lady Pro Series Member

“Aim small, miss small!!”


Cherie Blake

7-time Australian National Action Champion and Bianchi Cup competitor

“The best advice I’ve ever been given, and still try to apply is “look at your sights – they’re there for a reason” but my advice for new shooters is “pick the advice you listen to”- now that sounds harsh but new shooters get a lot of advice, especially juniors and women, everyone wants to tell you how to shoot and what to do and what to buy, be critical of all this advice because, although well intended, sometimes it’s just wrong. So listen, take note of who’s saying it, test some, discard some and use what works for you, seek out someone you trust.”


Tracey Jackson

Australia’s 10m Air Rifle Para-Shooter

“One piece of advice I remember is – first thing go out and buy yourself a diary,  write down everything to do with your gun setup, your training sessions and during competions . Thoses first months or first year you will change your gun setup heaps of times. As a professional competitor, I shoot at different ranges, so I change my setup to suit the range and believe me my diary comes in handy. Write down everything – setup, how your shoot goes, scores, practice session,  how you feel on the day, food you ate before shooting, eye sight during the shoot- when and if it started to go on you, how much water you drank during the shoot, I think you get my meaning  … WRITE DOWN EVERYTHING.”


Joanne “Amazing Grace” Dennes

Joanne “Amazing Grace” Dennes

World Champion Single Action Shooter

“As a cowboy action shooter and when new to the sport, the main piece of advice was ‘front sight, front sight, front sight’ along with advice on practice, category, rig, guns and clothing.”


Marion Barnes

SSAA Victoria Events Organiser and Shooting Sports Facilities Program Advisory Committee member

“My best piece of advice is to always treat every firearm as if it’s loaded.”


What’s the best piece of advice you received as a new shooter?


Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

12 thoughts on “Expert poll: What’s the best advice you were given as a new shooter?