So, last night was the best night I’ve had in a long time. The continuation of my long path to being a responsible firearms owner, and I had quite a blast. It was literally, the flash in the pan kind of milestone moment, that make or break day where I want to know if I really wanted to embark in being a responsible, knowledgeable and safe carrying citizen.
Last night I took my introduction to handgun course, and it was a 4-hour long class held at Blue Ridge Arsenal, with the class held by Mr. Mark -redacted- . The first two hours of instruction was classroom. We were drilled endlessly on the three rules.
ALWAYS point the gun in a safe direction. Always be aware of the backstop and backdrop.
ALWAYS keep your finger off the trigger until ready to fire (until you have made the conscious decision to press the trigger).
ALWAYS keep a gun unloaded until you are ready to use it.
That point was religiously hammered every 30 or so minutes which may seem repetitive, but the instructor was teaching the class in a pace and tone that didn’t patronize, sound haughty, or anything. Learned what determines caliber, the firing action, how to match ammo to the gun, also answered my .223 REM vs 5.56x45mm NATO when we were going on about 9mm/9×19/9mm Luger/9mm Para and how .38 Special can fit in .357 Magnum and not the other way around and +p and +p+. Took every question those who asked it in a manner that was respectful.
The third hour our instructor and another Blue Ridge employee gave us some instruction on semi-automatic handguns and revolvers. Proper grip, stance, and what have you. I wouldn’t say I was experienced. There were other shooters in the class, but playing airsoft does give something. Utilizing snapcaps, we were shown how to load both revolvers (a S&W in .38 Special) and a semiautomatic (GLOCK 17). The other instructor showed us the revolver. I wasn’t pleased with it, but then my hands had wrapped themselves around airsoft replicas of Colt .45s my entire life so of course I wasn’t going to be used to it. It was something I told myself I would be keen to shoot in the upcoming free shoot.
After our range safety breifing, we all lined up at 10 lanes, starting from two .22s (Beretta Neos iirc) two SW revolvers in .38 Spc and .357 Magnum, a SIG .380, three of 9mm handguns (GLOCK, Springfield Armory XD were the two I tried the whole night) and a SIG in .40 SW, and a Wilson Combat .45. While I initially went for the .45, I switched places with a girl in our class who was asked to try the .45 due to the more manageable recoil than the .40. No biggie. The first two shots were instructed, so after loading one round, we all shot in unison.
The Sig was confusing. That was a rather long pull, and I had thought I did something wrong when, at the very end of the steady pressure to the rear, it fired. I was surprised, confused, and happy at the same time. My shot was way off the center of the paper, but since that first shot was our reference, we loaded one more round and used that as our bullseye. Low and to the left if I remember correctly. Afterwards were encouraged to shoot a magazine or cylinder of each gun and then step out and switch with an open lane. The moment I sent 5 more rounds of .40 SW downrange, the .45 had opened up, and I enthusiastically jumped into it.
Loading the fat .45 ACP rounds into the single stack magazine was easier than the .40 that’s for sure. That or its confirmation bias. I lined up the sights just slightly above the grouping left by the previous occupiers of the lane, and shot. It was, it was like zen you could say. Sending that .45 round and punching a hole into the paper. Using that as my reference point, I started to make a respectable, newbie grouping (well, i think it was respectable) of 4-5 inches at close range, like 5 yards. After a magazine or two, I went around and shot the other guns.
Wouldn’t describe em in detail, but the .22 was intensely fun, the .38 special revolver was, interesting, especially when my hands felt the warmth of the thing going off, the .357 had a kick, while the 9mms were alright (though the XD was my favorite over the GLOCK). It was the last 20 minutes, and the .45 had opened up again. Getting a new paper target, I decided to shoot a few magazines, and came up with this.
Two of the shots were way low, my first two, but after wiping the condensation from my eyepro, the shots travelled up and to the right into the black. None in the red, not at 10 yards with only 3-4 magazines worth of experience with a M1911-style pistol, but I would say that’s pretty reasonable. The free shoot over, I kept that target and didn’t let anyone else shoot at it, just so I can show Miguel how I did. We also got a few freebies, although the best part was the instruction and the range time. Those were well worth the cost of the class (125USD) and I would definitely look into both M1911-types and Springfield XDs. I found em both comfortable to shoot.
It definitely was the start of something big.