Are you nervous about taking a handgun shooting course? You feel like you want to but maybe you have some fears that keep you from taking that vial first step towards learning how to shoot or to becoming a better, more comfortable shooter?
The process of becoming an active participant in your own rescue is quite rewarding but fear and hesitation can keep many from taking on the challenge. Obstacles often are lack of a comfort zone, self-imposed limitations or mental toughness.
All shooters start out being uncomfortable. Those that don’t let that get in the way learn to get comfortable with the uncomfortable. Facing that uncomfortable zone with a coach can speed you along going into a new comfort zone and enjoyable activities.
Here is an overview of what you can look forward to as you consider taking the class. Knowing what to expect can help a lot.
First – Egos Are Left in the Car.
By “ego” I mean a fear of not knowing. It comes across with those who do not want to look like they don’t know what they are doing in front of their peers. This will keep you out of the game.
When you attend class I treat every student, regardless of past experience, as a brand new shooter. This way everyone starts out equally and skills or the lack of skills will not stand out for anyone. Even those that have been shooting for years you may well have been doing it in ways that are not optimal.
If you are in the other group that feels like “I know absolutely zero about shooting and I’ll be embarrassed”, if you can bust through that and come you will discover most everyone in class in exactly in the same place. I love seeing the smile on the face of a person shooting a gun for the very first time. It never gets old.
On the flip side, if you have an ego tied to your past experience and unwilling to learn things all over again then sign up only if you can leave that ego in your car. You will learn things that will surprise you.
Introduction to Shooting
Everyone in the class starts out here. Everyone. You can sign up for just this first 90 minute portion of the class day. If you sign up for Level I or II you will still go through this portion of the class because it will form the foundation for the day’s events.
If you are only signing up for this portion then you don’t need any extra equipment but your gun (or rent one of mine) and your ammunition plus eye and ear protection. You don’t need a holster, magazine carrier or even any extra magazines. Just you, your gun, 100 rounds of ammunition for it.
After a brief review of safety procedures and preparation we take students to the line and being teaching how to handle and hold the gun properly, how to aim it, how to press the trigger correctly and get you comfortable with the gun.
Then you will progress to loading and shooting. You will have an initial target for your first 5 shots. We will finish the class with your final 5 shots so you can see your progress. It can be dramatic as well as fun. You keep your target. During this class we make sure you know how to grip your gun correctly, load it and work the slide on your semi-auto or wheel on your revolver.
If you are just taking this and not progressing to Level I today, then most any gun you bring is fine. Many guns people own are not the best to start out with, don’t fit your hand or really old inherited guns and such. Still, from this I can make recommendations for you on what you should get that will best fit your goals and needs. After this portion ends at 10:30 you can pack up and leave, or stay and watch the next Level I. If you decide to stay and add Level I to your day, I’ll just collect the additional $20 and make sure you have the necessary things to fully participate.
Those staying for Level I will move into the next phase after a short break. For this session you will need additional equipment not required for the Intro class. You will need a hard sided or leather holster for your gun that can attach to your belt, which you will need. We are still working on foundational skills and learning foundational things require this. You may end up carrying your gun in different ways and the essentials can be modified by you accordingly later.
In addition you will need to have a magazine holster with additional magazines. Three magazines or more is optimal, at least two a minimum. If you are using a revolver then you will need what are called “Moon Clips” that allow you to preload your rounds on for quick reloading. Do a search for “Revolver moon clips”, you’ll see what I’m referring to. If you don’t have this for a revolver you will be spending entirely too much time reloading one at a time after every 6 shots or so.
For defensive carry I recommend 9mm, .40 or 45 caliber handguns, preferably semi-autos. A .380 will normally be a tiny pocket gun and fatiguing to shoot. .22 is certainly not the best for self defense but some hands can only pull the slide on a .22 to it’s OK to use if you need to.
If you bring a revolver, most are 38 specials while some I don’t recommend for the class would be .357 or 44 magnum. These last two are way to powerful for a new shooter to handle.
Level I will build on the Introduction skills and you will learn more about recoil control, follow up shots, more rapid shooting and how to draw from your holster with correct mechanics. You will also learn more about driving the gun to the target, high ready defensive positions, checking your 360 for other bad guys, quick and efficient reloading and shooting multiple targets. You will then take your final 5 shots to compare to your first 5. It’s always interesting to see the difference.
At the conclusion of Level I at about noon, we will take a lunch break. Level I students will then take a written test (basics and safety) fill out a class evaluation and Level I Certificates will be presented to those taking only Level I.
This starts about 1pm. Others that may have taken the previous Level I class may show up to add to their training. In this section we learn a lot about adding movement to your skill set. We learn about how much time it takes for an attacker to get to you compared to the time it takes to get your gun drawn and fired. You will learn how to draw and move off the X, how to shoot on the move, shooting multiple targets and transitions between targets. You will learn how to pivot and draw and surprise targets behind you and avoid hitting innocents.
During this time you will learn about being mentally prepared and threat levels of awareness. You will learn about the mindset for taking to fight to the attacker instead of them taking it to you.
At the end of Level II you will take your final 5 shot comparison session, take a written test and fill out your evaluation of the class. You will then be presented with a Certificate of Completion making you eligible for taking Level III in the future when offered.
You will not only learn the “what to do” but also the “why” behind everything taught. You will have opportunity to ask any questions you would like to, shoot other guns if interested, get advice on what guns or equipment to buy and avoid wasting a lot of money on buying the wrong stuff.
All told, it a really fun day that will teach you life saving skills if you will take the time to train yourself to do what class will teach you.
Hope to see you at the range. Sign up here…