Welcome, First Time Gun Buyer!

Follow these steps to feel more comfortable when purchasing a firearm for the first time.

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For the past month or so, I have been working as a member of the Vance Outdoors sales staff. This experience has given me an appreciation of a couple of things. The first is all the work on the part of the sales staff that goes into selling a customer just one firearm-despite the claims of a certain occupant of the White House, who recently said that it is easier to buy a Glock, than a book or computer. The second thing I have come to appreciate is how many people who come into any of the Vance locations that are first time gun buyers. The third thing is the fact that some new buyers come in relatively well prepared for the experience, while others don't. I thought this might be a good time to offer some suggestions from the other side of the sales counter to help you, the new buyer, feel more comfortable.

  1. When you come in, make sure you have an Ohio Driver's License or State ID with your current home address on it. If your driver's license or state ID does not have your current address on it, then a valid Concealed Carry Permit, motor vehicle registration, fishing license, hunting license, or one day State of Ohio range pass will also work to verify your current address. The range pass, fishing license, and hunting license can be purchased in-store if worse comes to worse. Having a piece of paperwork with your current address on it is a requirement of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms-not the State of Ohio, or Vance Outdoors'.
  2. Be prepared to ask as many questions as you need when selecting a firearm, particularly one for self-defense. The sales staff is hired because they have a working knowledge of firearms that they can use to assist customers. We want you to be comfortable with your purchase, so please make sure you ask enough questions so that you understand the critical aspects of the gun you are about to purchase. If you don't understand the answer the first time, ask for clarification.
  3. Don't be embarrassed about not having much, if any, knowledge of firearms. You are far from alone. Personally, I really enjoy working with first time customers just as much as I do first time shooters, and it's not about making a sale (as we don't work off of commissions). It's about bringing in another much needed member of the shooting fraternity (and sorority), and keeping them as members for life. In some cases, it's also about helping them with a decision that might have life and death implications. From what I have seen over the years from both sides of the counter, the Vance Outdoors sales staff will try and find the firearm and support equipment that is right for you. No one will try and sell you a six inch barreled .44 Magnum hunting revolver when you need a handgun that can be easily concealed in your purse or on your person.
  4. Try to have the "big picture" in mind when purchasing your firearm. Do you want a gun for concealed carry, home defense, or both? Do you live in an apartment, or free standing dwelling? Are you looking for a gun to shoot targets or "plink" (informally fun shoot) with? Have you developed an interest in hunting? Or, are you looking to teach your child responsible firearms ownership and shooting skills? Are you a small business owner seeking to defend your store? One such owner I helped needed to be able to defend himself, but felt that he would not be able to shoot another person. I ended up steering him towards a Taser Pulse electronic control device. I have been surprised to see just how many people come in to Vance Outdoors just to purchase less lethal defensive devices, like pepper spray or stun guns. If you have the big picture in your head as to what you are looking for, we can help you narrow it down, but we need to know where to start.
  5. Please-and this point is critical-don't worry about "taking up too much" of our time. Last month, I was pleased to work with a former Vietnam combat pilot to find him the right handgun for concealed carry. We checked out no less than ten different handguns, and their variants, until he settled on the right one for him. It just so happened there was a special deal running on that particular handgun, which included an additional magazine, locking box, ammunition, and a one hour Vance Indoor Range Pass-but my main goal was finding the gun that worked best for him first. All the rest was icing on the cake.
  6. Have an idea of what you can afford, or are willing to pay. That helps us narrow down your choices.
  7. Budget enough time before you come in. It may take a while to get waited on, depending on how many other customers are there. The paperwork involved in every firearms purchase goes through three separate checks, by three different staff members, to assure accuracy (in addition to the actual background check) before it, and your gun make it to the cash register. That takes time.
  8. Don't feel like you have to buy during your first visit. If you have a few guns that you are considering, you may want to take the time to rent the makes and models you are interested in with our Try it Before you Buy it Program. Range staff will be available to assist you.
  9. Make sure you understand what things disqualify you from purchasing and owning a firearm. If you have these things in your background, they will be uncovered in the background check, and your sale will be denied. Getting someone else to try to buy it for you constitutes an attempted "straw purchase" -federal felony. Don't try it.

As you can see, there are many considerations involved with your first firearms purchase. We want you to have a good experience, and come away with the firearm that works for you.