If you want a short answer, we would like to recommend you to start with a rifle first. If you want a descriptive answer, here we go. When you are holding a rifle and are learning to shoot with a rifle, it is much easier to learn basic marksmanship techniques such as proper breathing, trigger control, sight picture, and others conveniently and quickly.
Pistols, on the other hand, are more difficult to shoot, and if you are learning the basics along with good pistol technique, that is even more difficult as a combo. Air guns are a good choice because a skill you learn with an air gun can directly be implemented to firearms too. This means that any firearms skill you need to practice can be practiced with air guns and that too conveniently and quite easily. Air guns are also extremely accurate, and you can concentrate on target shooting to improve your skills.
However, at times, they can be more challenging to shoot than firearms, and that pushes you to be always in a good form and technique. Coming to budget, they are much less expensive to buy and shoot than firearms, as the ammo you will need also comes a lot cheaper than that of a pistol. As an added advantage, the range requirements are not so strict as with the pistol.
We will recommend you to begin your shooting journey with a good, and a moderately priced rifle that comes with good sights so that you can use it efficiently. Many experts might train you with a scope attached to the gun however, we recommend you not to use a scope until you have a good grip over target shooting. And again, if you are considering shooting competitions, the scopes and high-profile accessories are not allowed. Also, there are certain guidelines to follow if like do not start with a “break barrel” rifle.
However, if you need a rifle to become a pro in target shooting or eyeing the shooting competitions, we will recommend you to buy a US government surplus trainer rifle that will be the best choice for you. These rifles have been used to train JROTC cadets in firearms and marksmanship fundamentals for a long time because of their utility. These rifles also come with full target sights, have a German, Lothar Walther, competition-grade barrel, and a wood stock that gives an accuracy worth mentioning. It is one of the best rifles that are made to be used in the competitions and come at a relatively lower price as compared to the rest.
As we have said earlier, we will always prefer a rifle over a pistol for a variety of reasons as mentioned above. However, there is no criminal offense in selecting a pistol as it might suit some people who want handy and a compact weapon for practicing and target shooting. Whatever you choose, be sure to work on your skills that will help you to achieve your dream of becoming a pro in shooting very soon.