Last Sunday, I drove out to Escondido and learned to shoot handguns! CCWUSA’s William Desy generously gave me the class and gun rental, so I thought I’d share my experience with you all : )
The class I attended was the beginning class, which was appropriate. I’ve shot .22 rifles a few times, but nothing with recoil, no handguns, and never with much success. I was a little nervous that I’d hit myself in the face or shoot myself in the foot, but Bill quickly put me at ease.
I was the least experienced in the class, and Bill did a great job of keeping us all on the same page without boring the more advanced students or leaving me behind. He is patient teacher. He’s serious about safety rules without being anxious. I get very nervous about gun safety (ask my camping buddies) so it put me at ease to see how vigilant he was.
Because they are important enough to be mentioned every time guns are discussed, because you want to be aware of them before you learn to shoot, and because I know Bill would mention them here:
The Four Basic Gun Safety Rules
He started me off with a Ruger Mark 3, a .22 training pistol. This way, he explained, I could get used to handling a handgun without having to worry about managing recoil. Great idea, I thought.
We started out with basic targets at close range, and got used to form and grip and sights and things. Starting out with these easier drills was great for me as a beginner: I got some confidence before moving on to more difficult drills, and could practice a bit first while everyone else was shooting, without being in the center of attention.
Soon, I switched to a Springfield armory 1911 9mm. It was much heavier than the other gun, and had a bit of kick. It surprised me the first time, but it was easy to get used to and not nearly as scary as I thought. The sound of the larger bullets hitting the steel targets was more satisfying
We moved on to more challenging drills, most of which we did one at a time. It was nice to be able to learn from others’ mistakes and successes, and to see what others are doing differently than me. Several of the drills had options for different skill levels. For example, when we learned to shoot while moving (more advanced than I expected to get in a beginners class!) people who were comfortable with their guns were allowed to hold their frame and shoot while they walked, while the rest of us were encouraged to take a step, shoot, step, and shoot. I felt very comfortable doing the beginner exercises.
In addition to shooting and walking, we learned to use cover (standing and kneeling), practiced cadence (shooting, realigning, and shooting in quick succession), quickly shooting several targets in a row, and got a chance to try shooting a a very long distance: a 2′ x 2′ target 100 yards out. A couple of the exercises were framed as friendly competitions, and I did better than I expected. Everyone in the class was really supportive of each others’ success, too, even in the competitions.
Bill was open to questions about the exercises and general gun use and purchase. He is friendly and natural teacher. He stuck around for a long time after the class was over to answer questions and supervise students wanting to retry exercises.
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