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Before I review the class I want to remind you of where I’m at regarding my skill level and experience with guns.

I took the required pistol safety course to obtain my NYS pistol permit in 2010, that class was NOT a live fire course.  We were not allowed to handle guns in that class but went over parts of a pistol and the rules for safe gun handling.

I then proceeded to lock Walther in the safe and did not even touch it again until May of this year when someone we knew had a break-in while they were home.  That pretty much gave me the push I needed to really take my first steps.

In May we joined a range and have made every effort to go up at least once a week since then.  While there I typically shoot a couple hundred rounds but have had NO formal training.

I’ve done a lot of reading including articles from Massad Ayoob like How to Shoot a Handgun Accurately , books like Kathy Jackson’s The Cornered Cat,   Kathy Jackson and Mark Walters’ Lessons from Armed America just to name a few.

All of the books have been great and hold a wealth of information but reading does not replace hands on training!  I needed to start somewhere so that is why I decided to sign up for the NRA Basic Pistol Course.  The Basic Pistol class is also a prerequisite for the NRA Personal Protection in the Home and the Personal Protection Outside the Home courses so I felt it was a good decision.

So let’s get to it!

How did I find the course? 

I went to the NRA’s website and used the “find a course” function which can be found here.  I couldn’t find any courses within a 25 mile radius so I had to go out to 50 miles and found a course offered at the Brunswick Sportsman’s Club and registered right then and there online.

By the next day I had received an email directly from the instructors (Ed and Scott) welcoming me to the course and they attached a memo to let me know more about the course and told me that if I had any questions between then and the time of the course to let them know.  I sent them a few emails and was really pleased that they answered quickly.

What is the course about?

The NRA Basic Pistol Course is geared to the novice shooter.  They broke it up over a two day period, Thursday evening was the majority of the classroom portion, and Saturday morning was a combination of classroom work, grading our exam, and live fire at the range.

The course seeks to teach the basic knowledge, skills, and attitude for owning and operating a pistol safely.  Topics included:

  •  Pistol parts, operation, and basic firearm safety
  • Ammunition components and safety
  • Fundamentals of pistol shooting (eye dominance, grip, aiming, breath control, hold control, trigger control, follow through, stance)
  • Clearing stoppages
  • How to select, clean, and store your firearm
  • Safety, safety, safety, safety (Did I mention safety?)
  • They also took time to discuss with us the different ways we can work on developing our skills

The classroom portion consisted of a Powerpoint presentation along with both instructors offering stories and deeper explanations to help better understand and to clarify any information.  Of course we could ask questions throughout the presentation at any time, which we ALL did.

The course started with a review of what we had learned in the pistol safety course and provided us with a solid foundation of knowledge, understanding, and hands on experience with both semi-automatic pistols and revolvers.  The course included an exam that consisted of 50 multiple choice and true/false questions which we all passed with flying colors.  The course ended with time on the range!!

How many people were in the class and what was their experience levels?

There were 5 of us in the class and it seemed to me that all of the men in the class (I was the only woman) were much more knowledgeable about handguns than I was.  I suppose that it is possible that they felt the classroom portion was slow but I don’t believe so since everyone was engaged in conversation and had something to add.  I have no doubt that everyone in the class learned something regardless of their experience level.

What did I think?

I think that this class was excellent and that I was probably the perfect audience for this course; I was familiar enough with the concepts and terminology to not be lost but new enough to guns that there was plenty to learn, so I was able to walk away with a lot of new information.  I would recommend it to novice shooters but do believe that ANYONE taking this course will learn something.

I felt very comfortable with loading and unloading the semi-automatics because that is what I’m used to handling (Walther and hubby’s 1911 are both semi-automatics) but thanks to this course I was able to handle and learn about revolvers so that was a great experience for me.

I don’t think that you can underscore the importance of the stories and examples the instructors discussed with us and what you can get from the ability to discuss all of this information in a group setting.  I think that we were very lucky to have such a small group which allowed each of us to get extremely valuable one on one time. I felt very comfortable asking my questions and never once felt left out of a conversation.  It was a great group of people.

I also really enjoyed our time at the range which started with a safety briefing.  During the entire time the instructors were close by and of course made sure that we were handling the guns safely.  They encouraged us to take our time, to not feel rushed, and I really appreciated that.

In just the short time we were there I found that I had much better groupings and was shooting much more consistently than I typically do just practicing at the range.  Scott and Ed took time with each one of us individually and offered guidance, suggestions, and encouragement.  I felt great and energized leaving the range!

Scott and Ed were great and totally supportive of all of us continuing with learning as much as we can not only with NRA courses but to take advantage of other training opportunities like at Sig Sauer Academy which is only a few hours away.  They also encouraged us all to become instructors so that we can “give back to the next generation of gun owners”.   Awesome ideas and both are a part of my long term plan.

If you live in Upstate NY around the Capital District and have been thinking about taking a beginners pistol course or want to improve your knowledge and skills I’d highly recommend the NRA Basic Pistol Course. I thought my instructors Scott and Ed were outstanding and I must say they didn’t baby me or treat me any differently than anyone else in the class.   They did a great job answering questions and supporting each one of us.

I’m looking to take the Personal Protection Inside the Home Course next but don’t see any scheduled within the 50 mile radius.  They (Scott and Ed) are working on getting their credentials to teach that course and plan to start offering it at the Brunswick Sportsman’s Club in the spring of 2013.  If I can’t find the course offered somewhere else locally over the next few months I look forward to teaming up with these guys again in the spring to further my knowledge!

If you have any specific questions please feel free to ask!