I enjoy shooting, all sorts of shooting, and so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that being now resident in the “land of the free” I might find myself drawn to some “freedoms” that were not previously available to me.
In this case I am talking about handguns. Handguns have been banned in the UK since the late 90s (with only a very few limited exceptions), and so my experiences of shooting handguns there were limited to a small amount of target shooting with a Ruger .22 pistol when I was about 15. I have fired a few handguns since I started visiting the USA but these have been only brief encounters.
So having begun to settle in to my life here I have inevitably started to think about expanding my repertoire of shooting to include handguns. This began as casual searches to see what a gun would cost and when I realised that they are not really very expensive I started to think more seriously about the possibility.
It was at this point that it occurred to me that although I have fired a handgun several times and am pretty familiar with their workings I have never been given anything other than the briefest instruction in their use. So I determined that before I considered going shopping for guns I should go shopping for lessons.
Bill’s Gun Shop & Range offers a variety of classes from beginner to advanced and have several locations around the twin cities. I found a class that in only 4 hours on a Tuesday night would teach me what I needed to know in order to not shoot myself in the foot.
The Basic Handgun Familiarisation class was taken by John Burniece (http://billsgs.com/johnb.html) who was very competent, clear, and pretty entertaining. He showed us the basic operation of several styles of pistol including a thorough explanation and demonstration of how to correctly render a handgun safe. He also covered the correct grip and trigger pull and so on. After about two hours in the classroom he took us to the range where from five yards we all fired five shots from three target grade pistols: a .22 Ruger, 9mm Springfield Armory XDM, and a double action Smith & Wesson revolver in .38 Special.
The Ruger was naturally very easy to shoot with clear target sights and the Springfield was fun and not very challenging, but the revolver was more difficult. The double action trigger with about a 10lb trigger pull demanded significantly more concentration to hold steady and fire without pulling shots. Until then I had all my shots in the ‘X’ ring but four of my shots from the revolver were grouped further to the right in the 10 with one way out in the ‘8’. We used the same target for all three guns but it is just possible to identify the gun from the hole it made in the paper. See my pictures below.
You can just see the holes made by the .22 Ruger right in the middle. The 9mm made the holes round the left side of the ‘X’ ring and the .38 revolver are at 2 o’clock with a flyer in the 8. I would say it was not bad shooting but I can’t let myself get too excited about a good group at fifteen feet.
With this class under my belt I am now confident enough to take the next step towards buying my own gun, so watch this space.