How to Properly Shoot an AR-15 for Beginners

23rd Jun 2021

If you're a first-time gun owner or brand-new to the AR platform, you may be learning how to shoot an AR for the first time. An article cannot take the place of in-person training from a qualified instructor. However, we hope to guide you in the right direction and provide you with some safety tips for shooting your AR-platform rifle or pistol.

Shooting an AR-15: Rules for Safe Gun Handling

If this is your first time shooting an AR-15, following the four basic rules of safe gun handling can help you ensure a fun, safe day on the range. Practicing safe gun handling is a must anytime you pick up a firearm — whether you're a novice or an experienced shooter.

Before firing your AR-15, know these rules:

  • Always treat the AR-15 as if it's loaded — no exceptions.
  • Keep the gun pointed in a safe direction at all times, and never aim at something you don't intend to shoot.
  • Until you are ready to fire, keep your finger well away from the trigger.
  • Always be aware of your target and what is behind it.

Shooting an AR-15: A Step-by-Step Guide

Now let's look at how to shoot the AR-15.


  1. Visually confirm that the chamber and magazine well are empty and that fire/safe selector is on "safe."
  2. With the bolt closed or fully forward, firmly insert a loaded magazine until you feel it engage.
  3. Strike the bottom of the magazine to ensure it's locked in, then give it a gentle tug to confirm.
  4. Pull the charging handle back toward you for its full travel. The bolt moving back will force the dust cover open.
  5. Release the charging handle. The bolt will travel forward under spring pressure, stripping a round from the magazine and chambering it.


  1. Keep the AR-15 on safe and your finger away from the trigger until you're ready to shoot.
  2. When you're on target, flip the fire/safe selector straight up to "fire." Take a calm breath, exhale halfway and give the trigger a steady squeeze.
  3. Whenever you come off the gun and stop shooting, return the firearm to safe.


  1. Once the magazine is empty, the bolt should lock to the rear. The simplest way to make sure the bolt is locked back is to rotate the AR-15 so you can get a good view of the ejection port.
  2. Confirm that the bolt is locked back on an empty magazine. Now, press the magazine release so that it drops free.
  3. If you want to keep shooting, press the bolt release after inserting a new magazine. The bolt will move forward and chamber a round.
  4. If you're done for the day, ensure the firearm is on safe and store it securely.

Improve Your Skills and Equipment with Wing Tactical

The AR-15 is based on an incredibly versatile platform that the military has used for many years. When you're ready to build or upgrade your AR, get your parts with lightning-fast shipping from Wing Tactical. For more how-to guides on shooting and firearm care, be sure to check out our blog.

Contact Wing Tactical with questions or check out our vast inventory of top-quality AR-15 parts and accessories to optimize your firearms and get the best possible shooting experience. 

Additional Shooting Tips: