Well, today was the day. Today I faced a fear. Today I spent close to 10 hours learning the basic lessons in pistols and shooting.
A few weeks ago, I met David Vidler at a networking event. David is an NRA Certified Firearms Instructor and the owner of Second Amendment Firearms Training, LLC. I invited him to participate in a lunch & learn at work that our Human Resource manager was organizing. We named it Tacos & Guns. The people at my place of employment are huge gun enthusiasts. So I figured David would be a huge success as an addition to our lunch & learn. And he was.
After our lunch and learn that day, I decided that I needed to have a basic pistol lesson. This is just one of the many classes David offers in his business.
Now listen, I might be a conservative and I definitely support our 2nd Amendment but I have a little confession: I am/was ridiculously scared of guns. I don’t mean a healthy fear or a respectable fear, I mean an irrational fear.
Yes, I shot a gun once. It was during boot camp for the Navy and I was 18 years old and before I had any sort of fear at all. Remember being 18 and fearless?
So fast forward to a woman in her mid-forties, lived through quite a bit of stuff, watched too much news, and has a family. I was fearful of guns. I cringe when people around me have handguns. My anxiety level shoots through the roof when my bosses bring out their firearms to show them to me.
I now realize my fear came from the unknown. I didn’t know how to handle a firearm. I didn’t know anything about pistols, revolvers, semi-automatics. Just hearing the term “semi-automatic” would send my heart rate soaring with fear.
David Vidler’s 8-hour Basic Pistol Class was just what I needed. We met at Gander Mountain for the class portion of instruction. We sat through four hours of class time, listening to all the terms and basic safety lessons, and how the gun worked. It was a lot of information to take in and my anxiety level was going up quickly because I get overwhelmed easily and like I said, it was a TON of information to take in because what if I forget something or what if I didn’t take it all in correctly?
After the four hour class portion, we broke for lunch and then headed to the shooting range. Lordy! The shooting range. I was a ball of nerves driving out to New Market where the range was located. But I moved forward anyway.
At the range, we had to take a quiz on range rules. We used a Walther P22 for shooting. We donned our safety gear which consisted of ear protection as well as eye protection. There were four people total in our class and I opted to shoot in the second group. We shot in groups of two. I wanted to watch the first two go ahead of me so I could see and hear what to expect and also to pick up on anything I might have forgotten from the class portion.
There was another group there on range, on their own, and they were shooting some LOUD firearms. I jumped so many times when they pulled their trigger. Even when I was watching them and KNEW the BANG was coming, I still jumped. From what I gathered, they were a family of four, parents and two grown children. They had a myriad of guns they were using, all large and all loud which was not putting me at ease whatsoever.
I was not sure if I was allowed to take my cell phone onto the range so I left it in my car. So there are no pictures of me or any other student shooting.
After the first two people in our group went then it was my turn. We shot first from a sitting position. I was shaking and sweating. But I went ahead and loaded the magazine and with the command of the instructor, loaded the gun. After taking off the safety, I took aim, making sure my grip was correct and stance was good. Applying a slow and steady squeeze of the trigger the gun discharged. The casing popped out and I stayed in my position because there is a follow through. I didn’t even look at the target. I was only relieved that I managed to pull the damned trigger.
But you know what happened after that? Oh, that wasn’t so bad. It wasn’t as bad and scary as I thought it would be. The next round we shot five times and after that ten times. The instructor called the range “COLD” so we could go out and look at our target. I actually had good aim.
Next was the standing position. The first few rounds I completely missed my target but then I realized I didn’t have it aimed correctly with the sights. After that realization and correction, I was back to being pretty spot on. My grouping was getting smaller and smaller.
In the end, I walked away feeling empowered and knowledgeable. This made me feel a little more confident and a lot less fearful of guns. We went back to our class room and finished up; cleaning the guns and taking a written test. I even received a certificate.
I highly recommend going through this basic pistol class. If I can do it, anyone can do it. Even if you don’t believe in guns or firearms, take this course so you can experience what it’s like to handle a firearm. Educate yourself in firearm safety and responsibility. David Vidler is an NRA certified instructor. He didn’t preach anything related to politics, he simply taught the course.
[Carol Marks is The Girl Gadabout, blogging the 256 area code of Alabama. I write about events, travel, product reviews, conduct interviews with the locals, and host the Fellow Travelers Series.]