This guest post is by Perrin and entry in our non-fiction writing contest.
Right now, I am very far from an expert in anything to do with firearms. This short article will give a glimpse into what I am doing to remedy that and, hopefully, give a little inspiration to those who have been thinking about this as well.
First, here is a little background on myself. I grew up on military bases and most people find it a little strange that I didn’t also grow up around firearms. I wasn’t a stranger to them, but no one in my immediate family hunted nor owned any firearms. I went skeet shooting a few times in the boy scouts. In ROTC, I qualified with the M16-A2. Still, I never sought to own a firearm. Fast forward a decade and I have a steady career and a family. Two important things have changed. I personally am responsible for the safety of my family and my home. I can now afford to purchase a decent firearm.
I had shot a few handguns that my friends owned and liked the Glock in 45 caliber. I purchased a Glock 21 and then thought, now what? I have a handgun that is now my responsibility. I’m not very familiar with cleaning a handgun. I’ve only shot at the range a few times and that under the guidance of friends who are not trained instructors. Many times, I’ve utilized blogs, review sites, and youtube to glean more information about a subject. However, I realized that the “try it out for yourself and work out any kinks,” was not a very safe approach to learning how to handle a firearm. A few co-workers suggested that I look for an NRA training course in my area.
I completed the NRA basic pistol shooting course this weekend. I shot, what I think are some very impressive patterns on the targets. I scored 100% on the written exam. Most importantly, I am much more confident that I can safely and correctly own and handle a handgun.
The course cost $110 with $50 due as deposit, the rest due at completion, and the instructor bought everyone lunch. Instruction began at 0930 and consisted of about 3 hours of lectures on pistol types, their different functioning mechanisms, different calibers, the rules of firearm safety, how to handle a malfunction, proper shooting technique, different range commands, and a lot more.
After lunch, we headed to the local range. We were paired up so that while you weren’t firing, you were observing your partner and seeing what they did correctly or incorrectly. We started out repeatedly loading only one round in the magazine and firing that round. This drilled into us the steps from loading the magazine and then inserting it, to safely clearing the firearm and placing it at rest. We then moved on to loading 5 rounds. This helped teach re-acquiring the target, better trigger control, and better breathing control. During all of this, the instructor moved amongst us, giving small critiques and tips on grip, stance, etc.
We returned to the classroom for more instruction on properly cleaning a handgun, storing a firearm, and further opportunities for courses. I am very impressed with the course and feel that I learned more in one day than I could have with multiple trips to the range with my friends.
Some things I learned;
Like a lot of people say, some guns just seem to ‘like’ certain brands of ammunition. The email our instructor sent out before the course said we could purchase our own ammunition or he could supply it for us at a small price. I purchased 200 rounds of .22 for the course. Unfortunately, the brand (Winchester) wasn’t able to cycle the action completely every time. I ended up with a few failures to load. The unintended benefit was that I really had drilled into my head how to safely clear a potential misfire or failure.
Our instructor was really great. He served in the British Military for 25 years as a firearms expert and trainer. He came to the US as a military advisor to US military contractors working on firearms. After he retired he decided to stay in the US and continue working as a private contractor. Finishing that, he has consulted to help start up a local firearms business and design their range. The funny thing is that he is from Scotland, so all of our instruction sounded like Sean Connery was talking to us. A couple times, I thought to myself, “Ha, I’m being trained to shoot by 007.”
Taking this step may seem daunting if you haven’t had a lot of firearms experience. It is very educational and rewarding when you have completed it. Before the course I kept thinking, “I don’t want to just show up at a range and start blasting away. What if I do something wrong? What do I do if my gun malfunctions? What do I do if I can’t hit the broad side of a barn?” All of these were addressed in the course and I am much more comfortable spending an afternoon putting paper targets out of their misery.
This contest will end on February 16 2013 – prizes include:
- First Place winner will receive Two cases of MRE’s courtesy of Camping Survival, A Wonder Junior Deluxe hand-mill courtesy of Kitchen Kneads, $150 gift certificate for Fiocchi Ammo courtesy of LuckyGunner Ammo, A Big Berkey Water Filter System courtesy of TruPrep Emergency Preparedness and a one year subscription to Personal VPN service courtesy of unspyable.
- Second Place: A $200 gift certificate for any order from their store courtesy of Shepherd Survival and A Doom and Bloom Mini Trauma Bag courtesy of LPC Survival.
- Third Place: A Bar-ricade door bar courtesy of My Locksmith, Inc.