Today I took an eight hour course sponsored by the National Rifle Association. It was a basic pistol qualification course, teaching the fundamentals of handgun safety, shooting, and cleaning.
The instructor was in artillery for the Marines for several years. When his time was up he started teaching firearm safety. He was incredibly knowledgeable about firearms, and had an incredibly dry sense of humor. Even when he was demonstrating for the class using a rubber gun he would demonstrate proper safety by pointing the rubber barrel at the ground and “firing” to the side of the classroom. When he switched to guns using dummy bullets he carefully explained the mechanisms of the single-action revolver, double-action revolver, and the pistol. He would cock the hammer back, pull the trigger, and give an exaggerate “BOOOOOM”. IT was hilarious, but educational at the same time.
First he passed around the dummy guns so we could practice proper handling and sighting. Next came spent casings from various rounds and exploded bullets half-formed and broken into pieces. He passed around dummy bullets so we could load a magazine with .22, .40, and .45 caliber rounds. It gave us practice with safe equipment, and no fear of handling live rounds while we were still getting used to the safety portion of class. We learned what could go wrong when a gun misfires, and what only happens in Hollywood and cartoons.
By the time we got around to the range portion of class I wasn’t the least bit nervous. I stepped up to be one of the first to fire. Loading the magazine with live rounds for the first round worked just like it did with the dummy rounds. At each step he let us know exactly what we should be doing and the proper way to react when something goes wrong.
My first few shots weren’t on my 9″ target, but every shot after was dead on. He even congratulated me on my dead center shot. The first target was thirty rounds at fifteen feet. I did rather well after making a few corrections. My second target was another thirty rounds at thirty feet. I fired twenty from the same Smith & Wesson pistol, and the other ten with a double-action revolver. There was such a difference, and it was great to be able to try both side-by-side.
We took a written test at the end and were presented with our Basic Pistol certificate and patch. It’s enormous. I don’t know that I would ever put it on anything, but it is kind of a cool thing to have. I was told that I’m not allowed to hang up the diploma unless it’s in my closet. There is no gun in my near future, but I can always go back to the range to rent a lane and a handgun for an hour. I can’t wait to go back and fire an entire box of rounds. I already knew that I loved shooting. Today just confirmed that shooting is just as addictive as it was fifteen years ago.