Adventures in Firearm Training



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:

Well what are you waiting for – email your entries today. But please read the rules that are listed below first… 1x1.trans Adventures in Firearm Training

Comments

  1. That’s the kind of gun control I’m in favor of! If you’re going to buy a firearm, you should learn how to use it properly.

  2. Excellent story about responsibility. Way too many people skip the step about getting training. You too all the right steps, in the right order.

  3. Agree with John: gun control means knowing how to handle your ‘gun’ in all situations, not just when it’s sending lead down range.

    Next up- get back to that local range and get involved with IDPA, IPSC, steel, target and self defense croups. You’ll learn a lot from the people who do those kind of venues- though some may not be ‘expert’, it’s all worth learning.

    Most of all, enjoy your newly discovered freedom, don’t hide it in a closet.

  4. You don’t have to be a novice to benefit from professional instruction. I have seen many glaring safety infractions by experienced shooters. From personal experience we can all pick up bad habits. And I have. I also corrected them. Hopefully, anyone seeing something done improperly at the range will be quickly corrected by other shooters. I always thank them, even when they are a bit harsh. I’ve seen range accidents. Fortunately no one was hurt, but my heart skipped a few beats. One included a retired Army rifle instructor fire with people down range.

  5. Tactical G-Ma says:

    Perrin,
    Really good article.
    Before people can drive a boat in my state they must take a boaters safety course, pass an exam, and then have an endorsement added to the drivers license. Wonder if this might not be an option for future gun purchasers?

  6. My mind is slipping- can I blame old timer’s disease?

    Another great opportunity to learn some solid gun handling skills is an Appleseed event. Just one day will teach you much about the basics of shooting- you’ll have to do your own search for advanced skills after the ‘Seed. And one fantastic aspect of the ‘Seed is you can use a .22 and save tons of cash.

  7. A great story of the RIGHT WAY to do things!
    You are NEVER TOO OLD to learn!
    My grandpa used to say, “when you think you know everything that’s when you have an accident.”

  8. Great article!
    I am constantly encouraging folks, especially women, to get training. They are too intimidated, but quickly find out how supportive the instructors can be and how much fun they have!
    I usually have friends come with me to the range, to show them that the big bad wolf doesn’t live there.

  9. Nice article. I recently put in for my NRA membership and absolutely plan to take some of their courses. Still waiting on firearm permit, though.

  10. I think it may be a mistake to think women need professional help more than men. I’ve seen way to many men with bad gun handleing/shooting habits. Women, IMHO are more ready to accept correction if delivered calmly.

    • EthanP,
      Absolutely true. In more than two decades of training, all things being equal (which they never are), I see women outshoot men hands down. They are both emotionally and physically better equipped to shoot in general. When a couple shows up to a class, I let them know that I’ll probably have her safe and on target before I break his bad habits. If you look at Olympic shooting events, you see the women dominate the sport.

      • Lol,
        I have seen many men take the walk of shame after taking their wives or girlfriends shooting, thinking that they would be bad shots. Jokes on you guys.

  11. Thanks for posting Perrin. I plan to become certified to teach the Basic Pistol course this year and it was great to hear your experience. I guess I’ll be buying some lunches too…

  12. People do not realize how much they would save in time and ammo, in getting proper training. A lot of my students that think they know how to shoot have a lot of bad habits, and a number of them have trouble qualifying. Where new shooters, often ace it

  13. The one thing I miss most about the military is being able to use the extended distance ranges, urban tactical and shoot houses. Shooting the Ma Deuce is also missed. Thanks to all of you who paid your taxes and allowed me to burn up all that ammo. I need to take a pistol course. The reflex memory not there so much for the pistol. With ammo prices the way they are, it ain’t easy keeping up on training.