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Getting Started: Firearms

Stay Focused. Stay Safe. Hit Your Target.

Shooting a firearm for the first time can be intimidating, but learning how to safely handle these devices will help boost your confidence when taking aim. Brace yourself with patience and determination, because hitting your first target is a rewarding experience you'll never forget! Below is some information and resources you can use to learn the basics of safe and responsible gun handling.

The basics of learning to shoot are outlined below, and you can also get started learning with our interactive Introduction to Firearms online learning module. This content will cover the basics, including different types of firearms, information on using firearms for recreation and for hunting, and safety considerations …all at your own pace! A fact sheet, outdoor skills YouTube videos, and other resources are also available. After reviewing introductory information, we encourage you to attend a virtual or in-person learning opportunity with friendly and knowledgeable staff for hands-on experience.

Link: Introduction to Firearms Learning ModuleLink: Introduction to Firearms Fact SheetLink: YouTube Playlist - Learn Outdoor Skills
Link: Wild Ohio Harvest Community Events and Learning OpportunitiesLink: Wild Ohio Harvest CookbookLink: Find Public Shooting Ranges

Basics of Firearms in Ohio

The Benefits of Practicing Shooting a Firearm

Safety and Responsibility
Learning how the firearm operates and how to safely handle it will ensure maximum enjoyment at the range or in the field.

The Challenge
While taking aim with a firearm, your senses and focus are sharpened. Practicing shooting skills can improve concentration and confidence.

The First Step in Learning to Hunt
Firearms are popular with hunters hoping to harvest wild game. Learning to safely handle and shoot a firearm is a natural first step in a journey into hunting for food.

Why Hunt?
Learn more about how nature, local food, and a variety of motivations are linked through hunting in “Why Hunt?”, a publication of the Aldo Leopold Foundation. Established in 1982, this conservation organization works to inspire an ethical relationship between people and nature through the legacy of Aldo Leopold.

Why Hunt? A Guide for Lovers of Nature, Local Food, and Outdoor Recreation (Aldo Leopold Foundation)

Firearm Considerations

What Makes Shooting Firearms Different?

The shooting sports generally refers to archery and firearms being used for various kinds of recreational shooting. We will use the term firearm to refer to a mechanical device that uses pressure from burning powder to force a projectile or multiple projectiles through and out of a metal tube. This differs from a bow, which stores energy in a limb system and transfers that energy to an arrow when the string is released. Compared to bows, firearms are a long-range tool. The maximum distance depends on the type of firearm and the caliber it is chambered to shoot.
There are many types of firearms, but they generally fall into three broad categories: shotguns, rifles, and handguns. The main differences between them are their barrels, projectiles, and intended targets. Learn more in our interactive learning module or fact sheet, or in the firearms section of the online study guide from Hunter-ed.

Introduction to Firearms Learning Module
Introduction to Firearms Fact Sheet

Hunter-ed.com is committed to hunter education safety and provides print and Internet hunting safety courses for more than 45 states.
Hunter Education Study Guide (hunter-ed.com

Build Your Skills: Learning Opportunities

Participate in a Skill Session with Us!
There's no better way to learn than getting out in the field and giving it a try. If you don't know anyone who can take you out hunting, consider participating in a hands-on learning opportunity with the Division of Wildlife, with one of our Wild Ohio Harvest Community events. Our staff is committed to guiding you through the process of learning essential hunting skills in a patient and pressure-free environment. This can also be a great place to meet other new hunters!
Check out our calendar of upcoming Wild Ohio Harvest Community experiences, classes, and courses (virtual and in-person). These opportunities are provided by the ODNR Division of Wildlife and other skilled and knowledgeable conservation organizations across the state.
Wild Ohio Harvest Community Calendar of Events

Take a Shooting Class
The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) website helps you find "First Shots" classes in your area, safety course, ranges and more.
National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF)
National Shooting Sports Month - August Events

Participate in a Partner Event
Many conservation organizations and conservation clubs throughout Ohio offer learning opportunities for anyone to try their hand at outdoor activities. These organizations are dedicated to instructing new and continuing participants, opportunities can range from beginner level to advanced, and some are specifically for new participants. This is also a great way to meet other people who are passionate about sharing their knowledge with new recreational shooters.
Search Conservation Clubs in Ohio (Google)

Other Learning Opportunities
Many businesses and organizations offer outdoor recreation courses seasonally and year-round in Ohio. L.L. Bean, Cabela's, and Field & Stream are just a few that provide opportunities at different levels to learn how to shoot, hunt, fish and cook wild game in addition to other outdoor recreation courses.

Learning Resources: Preparing to Practice Shooting Firearms

Overview of Shooting Firearms
Important parts of getting ready for a session at the range include making sure you have the equipment you need, reviewing statewide and local regulations, and finding a place to practice.

Using the Right Equipment
The equipment you will need or borrow will depend on the type of firearm you are interested in and personal preference.
If you are thinking about taking the next step into hunting after learning to shoot, it is important to know that only certain kinds of hunting equipment may be used when hunting different wildlife species.
The resources listed below are great places to start.
Introduction to Firearms Learning Module
Introduction to Firearms Fact Sheet
Wild Ohio Harvest Community – Outdoor Skills [YouTube]
Allowable Hunting Equipment

National Shooting Sports & Hunter Ed Resources
Find introductory information on learning to shoot and various types of firearms from the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF).
The NSSF is an industry trade association that encourages the enjoyment of recreational shooting and hunting.
Learn to Shoot (NSSF)

Learn more about firearm equipment, from how they work to ammunition, in the Firearm Equipment unit of the hunter-ed study guide. You can also find information on basic shooting skills.
Hunter-ed.com is committed to hunter education safety and provides print and Internet hunting safety courses for more than 45 states.
Know Your Firearm Equipment (Hunter-Ed Online Study Guide)
Basic Shooting Skills (Hunter-Ed Online Study Guide)

Review Statewide and Local Regulations

Statewide Regulations
Ohio laws in their entirety can be found by consulting the Ohio Revised Code (ORC) or the Ohio Administrative Code (OAC). These laws are subject to change. It is your responsibility to be aware of the most current laws when shooting firearms.

Ohio Revised Code (ORC)
Ohio Administrative Code (OAC)

Local Regulations
Be aware of local hunting regulations (e.g. city regulations) before discharging a firearm.

Practice at a Public Shooting Range

Public Shooting and Archery Ranges
If you’re learning to handle firearms or archery gear, or simply want to sharpen your skills, there are a number of public shooting and archery ranges at wildlife areas and Ohio State Parks available to you.

The ODNR provides public shooting ranges so Ohio’s sportsmen and sportswomen have safe places to practice with their hunting implements. Safe shooting environments and knowledgeable range attendants foster an attitude of firearms safety and respect, where shooters can develop the knowledge and skills necessary to practice safe firearms use and take the next step to attend a hunter education class and become a hunter.

In Ohio, there are several public shooting ranges, and they are ranked by class:

Class A: supervised, rifle and pistol target ranges
Class B: unsupervised, rifle and pistol target ranges
Class C: unsupervised, clay target shotgun ranges
Class D: unsupervised, offer archery target ranges 
Class O: other public ranges 

All Class A ranges have handicap accessible parking, shooting benches, and restroom facilities. No range attendant or restroom facilities are provided at Class B and Class C shooting ranges.

About Public Shooting Ranges & Buy a Shooting Range Permit
Find a Public Shooting Range

Find More Shooting Ranges
There are other directories of shooting ranges in Ohio and the nation. "Where to Shoot" by NSSF even offers a mobile apps of their directory.

Where to Shoot - National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF)
Shooting Ranges in Ohio - rangelistings.com

Buy a Public Shooting Range Permit

Shooting Range Permits
Permits are required of shooters age 18 or older for admission to Class A ranges operated by the Ohio Division of Wildlife. Shooters age 17 and under are not required to purchase a permit, but must be accompanied by and directly monitored by an adult (age 18 years or older) holding a valid shooting range permit.

About Public Shooting Ranges & Buy a Shooting Range Permit
Hunting Licenses & Permits
Shooting Range Permit Finder
Buy a Shooting Range Permit Online

Shooting Range Permits
Annual Permit: Resident & Nonresident....$24.00
One-Day Permit: Resident & Nonresident....$5.00
Annual Permit and Hunting License Combo: Resident....$29.12
Annual Permit and Apprentice Hunting License Combo....$29.12

Stay Informed and Support Your Wild Ohio

There's More to Come!
The Division of Wildlife works hard to keep Ohioans informed of all the latest wildlife-related happenings around the state, provide opportunities to participate in outdoor recreation and teach the importance of wildlife conservation. Don't lose touch - follow us on social media, get the Wild Ohio Magazine, and sign up for email alerts. We are planning more opportunities for beginning hunters in the very near future!

Wild Ohio Harvest Community Instagram
ODNR Division of Wildlife Facebook
Your Wild Ohio - Angler Facebook
ODNR Division of Wildlife Instagram
ODNR Division of Wildlife Twitter
ODNR Division of Wildlife LinkedIn
Wild Ohio Magazine
ODNR Division of Wildlife Weekly Email Updates

Support Ohio's Wildlife
We can't manage wildlife populations without you! The Division of Wildlife does not receive general tax dollars to manage Ohio's native wildlife, so contributions are always appreciated. Here are some ways your dollars can support wildlife conservation in your Wild Ohio:

  • Your annual fishing license or hunting license
  • An Ohio Wetlands Habitat Stamp
  • An Ohio Wildlife Legacy Stamp
  • Wildlife license plates
  • Make a donation, or give through the tax check-off program

Donate to Ohio's Wildlife Conservation
Purchase a Specialty Wildlife Conservation License Plate
Purchase an Ohio Wildlife Legacy Stamp
Make a Tax Donation
Make a Memorial Donation

Help a Biologist and Report Wildlife Sightings

Report your wildlife sightings online and help Ohio biologists track a number of different species, including black bear, bobcat, river otter, ruffed grouse, turkey and more.  For more information on how you can help, please follow the link below.

Report Wildlife Sightings Online