This weekend I attended the level 1 firearm training. I was a little bit cold feet last week, wondering why would I want to learn how to shoot a handgun. Isn’t shooting seems so easy on TV, anyone can just pick up the gun, point it at the target, pull the trigger and bang right on. I did quite well shooting the rifle on my own, just learn from the tips by the old folks in the shooting range. I could spend the tuition on ammos and get some more practice. In the end, I am glad that I took the class. Shooting a handgun require more delicate skill than shooting a than rifle. Shooting is like playing golf, it is all about muscle memory. If you have some bad habits when you first start shooting, it will be a lot of extra work to get rid of the bad habits.
The shooting school, Silvercore, trains armor car guards and associates with the police academy, so their instructors are top notched. Day one is the classroom module. We revise the safety rules, learn how to hold the pistol and practice dry fire on disarmed firearms. The right way to hold a gun is using the push-pull method. You use the left fingers pull the grip of the gun against your right palm. You should only feel pressure on the front and the back of the grip. If you squeeze the grip too hard with your right fingers, the gun will start to wiggle. You may able to hold the gun stable, but a bad trigger pull make ruin your aim at the final moment. We learned a cool drill to smoothen the trigger pull. Put a penny on top of the gun, pull the trigger and try to keep the penny from falling off. Then we practice with laser bullet that fire a red dot to see how well we aim. We also played a “state of the art” shooting simulator, which is just a computer game bundled with a laser gun. Day one is a bit boring, but learn the basics is necessary.
Real fun begins in day two. We have a whole day of non-stop shooting. We start off with practicing all three shooting positions. The weave position is the most common way to hold a gun 00in TV. One elbow bends sideway, the other bends downward. I don’t quite like the weaver position, is kind unnatural. The isosceles position is the most stable position and the easiest to shoot Both arms holding straight like a zombie. It is useful but it doesn’t look cool. I prefer the chapman position. Step back on one foot, shooting arm lock straight and the supporting elbow bends slight outward. In the afternoon, we also shooting with left hand and using only one hand. To my surprise, shooting from the weak hand doesn’t make a big difference. As long as you remember always to place both of your thumbs one the same side of the gun. If you forget and cross the thumb behind the gun, you will have a very bad thumb bite when the slider slides back when ejecting the empty shell.
We begin to shoot from 2 yards. I though that could be easy, but I still manage to fail hitting the bulls eye from 2 yards away. I tend to drop the gun slightly when I pull the trigger, so all of my shoots are too low. This is a very common mistake of all new shooters. I anticipate the recoil, so I try to compensate the upward movement by pointing downward. I should pretend the gun has no recoil when pulling the trigger, just let the recoil surprise me. Later in the day, we move back to 5 yards, then to 10 yards, as we are getting more and more accurate. We also practice flash shooting and double taps. In flash shooting you don’t have time to align the sights, just point your thumb to target and pull the trigger. Double taps is shooting two rounds back to back. A firm grip with good stance makes a big difference. The force of the recoil should push back the gun and transfer most of the force to you body instead of making the gun points upward. So you can aim the second shot with less distraction form the recoil.
At the end of the class, we have the a shooting test, which is a simplified version of the annual firearm examination of the Vancouver police. We have to fire 50 rounds while moving progressively from 2 yards to 20 yards. The police has to score 45 out of 50 to qualify for carrying a gun on duty. My score is 34, not too bad for a first day shooter. The instructors said two weeks of intensive practice should bring most people up to the standard. I am looking forward to take the level 2 training. For the mean time, just like every other sports, the only way to improve me skill is to practice.