I spent the day yesterday at the Firing Line in Aurora, CO. I’ve been to their shooting range a few times over the past few years with a member, but remain a novice. I am a lot more comfortable shooting a .22 (muffled pfft, pfft, pfft sound) than a .45 (shocking bang, bang, bang sound where I flinch every shot). Yesterday my friend let me use his Sig Sauer P220 (.45 caliber) to participate in the Handgun One course offered at the Firing Line taught by Dion from Ancillary One (Yelp reviews). There were about 18 of us, about half women. Classes are being held about weekly and seem to be selling out in advance. Also, many of the students were noting that stores in their home cities were completely sold out of ammunition to practice with.
Anyhow, back to the course. There was a classroom component, focused on gun and crime statistics, and the recommendation to check out GunFacts.Info (I have not yet read the full 112 PDF document you can download there), the basic parts of a pistol, how to clean your pistol and more importantly handle it safely, and of course the correct nomenclature about firearms so that one does not sound like an idiot – such as a “clip” is not the same as a “magazine” and a “bullet” is not the object that you place in your pistol to fire…Perhaps you already knew this, but to me, it was all new! As I think back on the hundreds of novels I’ve read that have had a mystery component related to firearms usage, most have gotten these two things wrong.
Also interesting – the mangled firearms and broken chambers from using either the wrong ammo (too high of a caliber or +P ammo in pistols that are not designed for it) or improperly reloaded ammo (often found at gun shows). It reminded me of the laboratory demonstrations they used to do with ultra centrifuges that broke down laboratory walls when they were balanced improperly. Fear is a great teacher.
At end of the course there was a written exam on the material presented.
Anyhow, after a long day sitting in the classroom, we FINALLY went to the range. To pass the shooting part of the exam, we first got practice with 40 rounds to a silhouette target. This was heart pounding in many respects – (1) the course required use of .380 or above so I was borrowing the .45 and most of my prior shooting had been with a .22, (2) I had only ever practiced two handed shooting before and this practice and forthcoming exam required one handed shooting with both the dominant and non-dominant hand and (3) I’d only ever been at the range with the gun owner who’d essentially coached & critiqued every single prior shot I’d taken (stance, grip, transitions, etc.), and now I was solo. My heart was beating as if I was sprinting all out.
So, the practice 40 shots were something like 15 body, both hands, 5 head, both hands, 5 body right hand, 5 head right hand, 5 body left hand, 5 head left hand.
I was actually very pleased with this – obviously if I am aiming for someone’s HEAD with my LEFT hand….I am going to miss, at least today (there were a few that hit the cardboard holding the target as well).
And then there was the test. Small, 8.5 x 11 piece of paper with what seemed like a tiny rectangle. 5 shots – both hands; 3 shots – dominant hand; 2 shots weak hand. To pass the class, and become eligible for a concealed carry permit in Colorado (many other requirements beyond this) then 7 of the shots needed to land in the tiny rectangle – of course the shooting distance was only 15 feet so in reality easy, but the one handed aspects making it heart pounding.
And success – 8 of my shots were in the rectangle, one was near my name (?!) – and sadly I think this was a shaky 2 – handed shot, and one was either dead on with another hole or missing the target all together. About 25% of the people in our group failed this test. It was funny – those that failed often had perfect silhouettes followed by major test anxiety. I know with my left handed shots that my entire arm was shaking. For the record, the anonymous gun owner was 10 for 10, in the circle, let alone the rectangle. And his silhouette was all 9 or X on the body, with just a few shots (two?) missing the center of the head. I was blessed with being able to borrow a great firearm and having a fantastic teacher prior to this class.
Anyhow, those that “failed” can come back and retest the shooting portion of the exam. The rest of us left with certificates of achievement and the big reminder that this certificate is a lot like getting a driving permit. You are now allowed on the road. This in no way means that you are good driver. Keep practicing.
Anyhow, I am now on the quest for a firearm that fits my hand, that I will use. While I love practicing with a .22, the instructor strongly recommended that such a firearm was not all that useful for personal protection if needed. And we also went through the disadvantages of pepper spray, knives, tasers, etc. I know that a .45 is more than I want. I can use one, obviously, (see above), but it scares me, which means I won’t practice, enough, at least not solo. And the ammo is bloody expensive. Luckily the Firing Line has both Ladies Night and pistols for rent. Recommendations?