As far as practice, goes I totally agree, as much as you can! My husband is an NRA instructor and we are at the range a lot. The intro class is excellent; you will learn about types of handguns, and ammo and shooting basics. But after that, you need to get a range membership (a lot cheaper) and go down adn shoot. and for sure take a few lessons when you can to correct what you might be doing wrong.
But, as someone pointed out, the mindset must also be there. For sure, if you grab a firearm, you must be prepared to use it. Do not warn someone with it ("Yoo hoo! I have a guuuuuun!"), do not threaten, if you pick that thing up it is to use it. you can do drills, at the range, getting off a number of rapid fire shots and so on, but at the end of the day, if you are using it for home defense you have to be willing to pick it up and use it.Many courses will spend a fair amount of time on this. People are correct that if they buy a gun for home defense, then never use it or practice with it, they are hardly safer. I would agree it would be better if they did not have a firearm.
I would take a class BEFORE getting a firearm, so you can shoot a variety of pistols (if that is what you are interested in). the NRA class will introduce you to semi autos and revolvers, and let you shoot a variety of calibers. Then you can decide what you find comfortable, and maybe get the instructor to helpyou purchase a firearm. The same for rifles. It pays to get one you find comfortable.
Well it just doesn't make you safer. Some statistics:
A gun in the home increases the chances of being killed by a firearm by 72%.
A gun in the home triples the risk of a homicide.
A gun in the home is 22 times more likely to be used in a suicide, a homicide or an accident than in self defense.
A gun in the home increases the likelihood of suicide by 5 times.
An abused woman is 6 times more likely to be murdered if there is a gun in the home.
A gun in the home is responsible for the vast majority of children's deaths by gunshot.
My issue with theses statistics is that they lump all people and all gun owners into the same category.
Meaning - the old man with the shotgun to keep the coyotes out of his chickens is in the same statistic as the drug dealer with stolen handguns.
You can read the statistics, but if they aren't broken down into more meaningful categories, they aren't very useful.
Obviously if you want to own a gun, you need to be comfortable using it, in a variety of scenarios - to put down a horse with a shattered leg, to kill a rabid fox, for possible home invasion? Could you do this? And take your gun to the range and practice.
We have a couple of guns. A shotgun and a rifle. Both sit by the back door, always unloaded with safety on, ammo in the cabinet nearby. I've fired the shotgun, but not the rifle. I have absolutely no formal training, but I can load, point and shoot if need be. I have a very healthy respect for firearms- as a kid we were not even allowed to point cap guns at each other. DH is the one that uses them, the only thing they've ever killed is stray dogs harassing horses. However, love that pump for putting a scare into people. We've had a few nighttime visitors- they take off in a hurry when they hear that pump click- and then word gets around to their unsavory friends...
Avid firearm owner here. Our firearm collection is worth more than the darn house. We have children. Do we lock up our guns....nope. The kids learned many years ago that a fired shot cannot be taken back. Always know whats behind you and if unsure how a weapon operates..leave it alone til an adult can help you. Have we had any incidences with guns? no. Will we ever? maybe as accidents can happen.
Get some NRA basic training. Find out what you enjoy shooting. Join your local range and practice. If you dont practice you will fail when you absolutely cannot.
I will say hubby and I dont "practice" but we do go shoot pistol matches 2 to 3 times a month. we call that practice...LOL. we shoot what is called IDPA (International Defensive Pistol Assoc). It gives you scenarios with bad guys, good guys, moving and stationary target. Gives a person a taste of shooting bad guys w/o getting shot back at. Any range we have been to welcomes new shooters...even those who are really clueless. All they ask is that you be familiar with your weapon and can safely operate it.
If you can't find a gun safety course near you, you could also try a Hunter Safety course. Depending on who teaches them, they are VERY helpful and you learn a lot. In my neck of the woods Hunter Safety classes are a big thing. I would trust the young kids who complete those classes with my life - they teach em' good around here.
I grew up in a hunting family. At the ripe old age of 12, my grandfather took me out and showed me how to safely handle and shoot a rifle (22). I practiced every year and even hunted a few times as a teen. At that point, I was considered adult enough to handle the firearm and one thing I remember was when my grandfather (A WWII and Pearl Harbor vet) saying was that if I ever had to kill a person to protect my family that was the ONLY time it is acceptable to point a gun at someone...EVER...no exceptions. Violations to rules in my family were taken VERY seriously with corporal punishment so we kids listened to this and respected our elders. Something too few kids today have any concept of IMO.
Anyway, for a while as a teenager, we kept a loaded 30.30 in the kitchen and my older brother and I had to watch our younger siblings often before my Mother and Father got home from work. My father worked in the steel industry as management and union workers had driven past our farm and shot at our house from the road. We knew what we had to do if it came down to it, and I have no doubt either me or my brother would have used that rifle..luckily we never had to. Cops were a long ways off if you needed help...back in this part of the mountains, you protected yourself and then called the cops to sort out the survivors.
I ended up spending 9 years in the military and found out in basic training what a boost my early exposure to guns was compared to most girls. I shot expert and was high score for my company...that was a big achievement. I shot everything from M-60 machine guns to M-16's to AK-47's to 9mm pistols. One thing the military does is get you well trained in firearms and using cover and concealment. I agree with whoever said to seek out veterans to help you learn. EVERYONE who joins the military gets these basics regardless of what they do or what their gender is.
Fast forward and I attended the NRA's course a few weeks ago to get a CC permit. It was a great refresher and I had not fired a pistol for 20 years. I did pretty well and was pleased to get the practice under the eyes of a trained instructor. I highly recommend this course, and in some state's it is a requirement if getting a concealed carry permit is what you want. I was not required to in VA because of my military experience but I wanted to for the refresher. It was money well spent.
I would even suggest that you attend the course before choosing a firearm. Many places will lend you a gun to use and will let you try various ones to see what works for you. My hands turned out to be a bit small for the pistol we have so we are shopping for something smaller for me.