Yesterday (6/22), Kel and I attended the NRA‘s Basic Pistol class. We had seven hours of classroom work, covering all manner of topics. My primary interest was safety because I haven’t handled a lot of firearms since my teens. I took a hunter safety course back then but I forgot much about it.
Of course, we also covered the difference between revolvers and semi-automatics as well as single- and double-action pistols. The fun part started when discussing aiming, posture, and firing by properly squeezing the trigger.
Then we got into the fun part. We practiced shooting a laser gun at a target. We started in a safe ready position with the gun facing forward (downrange) and the finger off the trigger. That last part is REAL important. From there, we got into firing position.
After taking the NRA test, we hit the Blue Range Arsenal for live firing. After signing the release, we went to the firing line. We had only one lane, so we took turns. Kel and I were last, so I had time to watch.
In the next lane was a guy with tattoo sleeves firing a rifle and a shotgun. Both weapons sounded like a cannon firing, even with ear protection on. For the rifle, he was test firing and adjusting the sights. Every shot created a distinct spark when it hit the metal backstop downrange. He spent a good bit of time doing this–I think he was having difficulty sighting it in.
I noticed that a couple of fathers brought their sons, probably around 12 years-old, to shoot. These kids were being taught proper handling from a young age. Moreover, they were being taught to respect the weapon and not to fear it.
Then, I noticed that several guys brought their girlfriends. Well, maybe the young ladies brought their boyfriends–I don’t know. What I do know was that these women can shoot. Some shot pistols, but a few shot rifles. From what I saw, they were as good as the guys there and definitely better than me, a beginner.
If someone had preconceived notions about guns and the people who shoot, he could have them confirmed. However, if he were paying close attention, those notions would certainly be shattered.
In addition to the noise of gunfire, I smelled the odor of spent gunpowder. It brought back found memories of firing my .22 rifle with mom and dad and family friends at the police farm in Johnstown. Ah, the smell of gunpowder in the evening…
For Kel and mine’s time in the lane, we alternated as the instructor provided close guidance as we fired into a sheet of colored construction paper, orange for me and pink/violet for Kel. The standard paper-sized target was placed ten feet away. For our last turns, the instructor had us each fire three-shot bursts.
The idea is to breathe, take the gun (a Glock 9mm) from the ready position, to the aiming position, and fire three shots in rapid succession. A fact that I was unaware of until yesterday was that the trigger has three positions–first position, at rest; second position, partially depressed but not fired (ready); and third position, fully depressed.
The key to the three rapid shots is to go from first to second, then to third. Hold the pulled trigger as slid rocks back and forth, cambering the next round and then go only to second position then back to third (firing the 2nd bullet) once your pointed back on target. In other words, don’t remove your finger from the trigger or allow it to return to first position.
In the picture below is my target where I fired four groups of three rounds (the entire magazine).
All twelve shots hit their target! They hit relatively high, which means I wasn’t flinching anticipating the shoot (loud bang). And they were grouped nicely together.
For the record, Kel did well, too. Yeah, she can handle a pistol alright. Kinda hot, too. 🙂
When the range time was over, we were directed to the bathroom to wash the gunshot residue (GSR) from our hands and face. I had no idea that GSR was such a big deal, but it is. Everyone did it. In the restroom, they had special de-leading soap. in fact, our instructor recommended that we remove our clothes and shower immediately when we get home.
Needless to say, I had fun, a lot of fun. Unfortunately, I had to pass on a couple social activities on the weekend to do this because the class started early Saturday morning, and I wanted to have a clear head when shooting. While I was bummed out that I had to pass them up, it was worth it. This was a really awesome experience, a blast if you’ll pardon the pun!
With proper instruction, heavy on safety, and a healthy respect for the weapon, shooting can be rewarding and fun. I’ll (and Kel, too) do it again, with the proper supervision. I’m not yet comfortable enough to go by myself.
By the way, if you’re watching TV or the movies and you see a character holding a handgun with the bottom of the grip in the palm of his supporting hand, know that the actor hasn’t a clue on how to shot a handgun.