Rookie needing advice! OK guys. I have been hunting 6 times, bagged 2 deer, and this past year, started plinking, at longer and longer distances, just for fun. I am hooked, and on a budget. (I know, bad combo.) I have always borrowed a gun to hunt with (i know, you can't take an ethical shot with a gun you don't "know" but hey, I'm a rookie). I started saving for a gun (4 kids under 7 restricts your budget). Before I could buy, I won a Marlin XL-7 scoped combo in .243 at a church raffle for $10. Better than a sharp stick in the eye! Anyway, I haven't even shot it. I have been reading for the past month about sighting, shooting, cleaning and care. Here is what I have : .243 Marlin XL-7 with Nikon Buckmasters 4-12X50 *Never Been Shot* I have my CHL, carry daily, and am very comfortable and familiar with SA handguns, but other than plinking with an old .22 Marlin 60, I have only fired about 10 rounds out of a rifle. Hopefuly I am stepping into this a bit ahead of the average rookie. Here are my questions: 1. I read an article about cleaning the bore after each of my first 5-10 shots. Do I need to do this, or is this just for high-dollar super-accurate rigs? 2. I was going to sight in and set my zero at 200 yards using 2 boxes of Federal 115g rounds that I won with the gun. Is this a reasonable range for that scope, gun, round (and rookie)? My brother-in-law will be reloading my brass with 80g hunting rounds. Will I need to re-sight with those? 3. The synthetic stock has 2 raised "points" that apply pressure to the barrel at the forward end of the stock. I have been advised to sand these off to fully "free-float" the barrell. Should I do this? 4. I was told that I should fire 3 shots, adjust my sights, then fire another 3 at a fresh target. Is this enough to show where my groups are off? 5. I have also been told to fire around 15 shots, then let the barrell cool before shooting any more. Is this correct? If so, how long should I let it cool. 6. After many-many rounds of practice, What will the efective range of this gun be (when I am no longer a rookie)? 7. If taken well care of, how long will this gun last? How many rounds should the barrel last? 8. Knowing that the XL-7 is of nominal value, Is this going to be something that I can pass on to one of my boys as a "heritage gun" or will it be a worn out piece in a few years? I have 100 more questions, and am doing this on my own due to budget constraints, so any advice and response is greatly appreciated.