Moving onto a homestead, whether it's an urban enclave or a thousand-acre ranch hidden far away from civilization, is a big decision that requires you to learn how to use new equipment. Firearms can be intimidating to someone new to homesteading, but most properties present hazards that are best dealt with by appropriate use of a gun. Decide if a gun is right for your particular homestead property by considering these five facts about firearm ownership and use.
Comfort with Shooting
First, consider if you're actually willing to handle the gun regularly to practice shooting. If you're too uncomfortable with a serious tool like a gun, you'll struggle to get familiar with it and may make simple mistakes that put you and your family at risk. In addition, pointing a gun at an intruder when you have no intention of pulling the trigger is a bad way to escalate a situation and make it more dangerous. Homesteaders who simply don't want to own guns should follow their instincts and choose alternative self-defense and hunting tools that they are happy to use.
Distance to Neighbors
Just because you're on an acre of land doesn't mean you can hunt or practice target shooting all you want. Every state sets rules on how far away you must be from your neighbors, public roads, and other areas. Shooting too close to a property line or road will land you with an expensive ticket and can even result in your firearms being confiscated. Since you'll need to shoot regularly for at least the first few months to get acquainted with a new gun, check into your rights for shooting on the homestead. You may end up driving dozens of miles to reach the nearest shooting range, and that is quite a commitment.
Type of Gun
Once you're sure you do want a gun for your homestead, you'll need to choose the type based on your expected uses. For example, someone who doesn't hunt and lives in an area with no nuisance animals or predators likely only needs a handgun for self-defense. If hunting is a priority, a rifle or shotgun with a rifled barrel is essential and also serves as a self-defense tool and for predator control. Long-range rifles are only necessary for hunters with specific techniques or large-game opportunities like elk and bear. Many people find a shotgun to be the best all-around homestead gun, while others keep one of each type of gun or more on hand.
Storage of Ammo
Make sure you have storage space for the guns and related ammo before bringing any weapons home. Whether there are children in the home or not, a locking gun case is essential to make sure your firearms don't end up in the hands of intruders. Guns will rust and become gummed up if allowed to sit in a dusty and humid environment, so cases and safes also prevent damage and reduce the amount of cleaning and oiling you must do.
Make sure ammo is stored away from heat, moisture, and light to ensure it fires correctly each time instead of creating a dangerous misfire situation. Keep your ammo in the original boxes so you can check expiration dates. Expired ammo isn't reliable enough to use safely.
Maintenance of Equipment
Finally, make sure you're prepared to maintain your firearms so they're safe and reliable to use over the years. Just as you wouldn't drive your car without ever changing the oil, you shouldn't shoot a shotgun or pistol without knowing how clean it is and what kind of condition the parts are in. This is an easy step to outsource because it's not too expensive to take your gun to a gunsmith for servicing every few months if you're shooting regularly or twice a year for a stored gun.
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