Looking back I realize how much money I spent on extra rifles and misc gun related junk instead of real equipment to help me become a better shooter. Instead of 4 lower receivers and misc builds I should have pared it back. It was tempting to drop $120 dollars on a lower and walk out with a new project gun… but a wise man once said you can only shoot one gun at a time.
Starting out right:
Right off the bat, for a new AR15 owner, I would recommend you buy a spotting scope, shooting mat, and good rifle case. When I headed to the range and sat around wasting time to set up and score my targets I could have pasted 3 or 4 targets and adjusted my zero from the comfort of my bench. Instead I waited for other shooters to call the range cold and then I would collect my targets. A spotting scope lets me see my target and adjust my zero from one position. A shooting mat lets me practice prone when things are muddy or wet. A good case holds and organizes all my gear in one “grab and go” bag. Maximize your time at the range, especially if you cannot go that often.
Next up would be a case of ammo. Right now ammo prices make this idea seem out of reach for many shooters. Hopefully prices will come down. The key to the case of ammo is that it will allow you to shoot the same stuff every time you hit the range. Changing ammo types will lead to frustrating range sessions as different ammo will require a different zero in some cases. A case of ammo that your rifle likes will let you keep shooting and working on your skill rather than worrying if the new box of ammo you just got requires a zero adjustment. Eliminate the variables and buy the same box of ammo every time if nothing else.
A spare parts kit is a great thing to have. I have been to the range and have had things come loose and have had stuck cases and other miscellaneous malfunctions. I can’t get out to the range every week… so if I can fix a broken rifle right there on the spot more power to me. When others and yourself are engaged in rifle training there will invariably be a parts breakage for someone. It is nice to provide a spare for a fellow shooter as this builds relationships and makes going to the range more interesting.
A good rifle optic would be the first tactical rifle accessory I purchase. On all the gun related crap (and lowers, and barrels, and uppers) I put together over the years I could have ponied up for an ACOG. Stop wasting money on “tactical” equipment that does not benefit your current skill level. You might be eying a red dot sight or an variable optic for your new rifle… yes, that’s good, but skip all the other crap accessories along the way and purchase a good optic.
From here choose upgrades carefully: ask yourself “What are my deficiencies with my rifle? Will buying accessory x, y, or z help alleviate that deficiency or will more practice help instead?” All the other tactical crap like chest rigs and mag pouches, ect. will come with time. If you practice hard and master your rifle you could roll into a situation (a competition for example) with two magazines in your back pockets and then proceed to wipe the floor with a good amount of your fellow shooters.
A spare gun is good, but three or four spare guns will not help you become a better shooter. I know the “disease” is strong every time you spot a lower in the wild. Stop. Put that bill in the bank and save for that ACOG you have always wanted. Get equipment that will help you understand and master your rifle. A Spotting scope, a case of ammo your rifle likes, a spare part skit, and then think about a good optic. Do you think your ready for a rail and flashlight low light shooting when you haven’t mastered the fundamentals? no? Skip it. Ask yourself what will help you shoot better… accessory x or will the the cost of accessory x be best spent on ammo and practice instead?
You want to learn how to be a marksman? Starting out with the right equipment will make the path much easier.