Posted in Bandora, Protection

NRA Basic Pistol Class Review

When looking at pistol class options I could have taken an “express” 1 1/2 hour class or a “regular” 3 hour class available every day to be eligible to apply for a concealed carry permit in Florida but since I had ZERO shooting experience I wanted to get the most in depth education possible, not just the bare minimum.  For only $30 more I could take an 8 hour class that was more comprehensive so that was the first use I made of the gift card that my husband gave me for Christmas. This required waiting a few weeks for the next class but it was well worth it.

NRA Guide to the Basics of Pistol Shooting
My first paper book in over a year, I kept trying to swipe the page like it was my Kindle

There is a textbook that was made available over a week before the class started and was required reading prior to the day. The book wasn’t great in my opinion; I didn’t find it engaging, the font was tiny and the editing was very dry and technical, if it hadn’t been for the pictures I would have been hopelessly lost. I hear that the book is on backorder right now as they as revising the course into a Blended Learning format so you may not have to worry about this if you decide to take this class in the future.

A big portion of the class was spent watching a DVD that summarized the book and but everything in an easy to understand format. The stuff that went over my head while reading the book was made clear easily with the video. This part took several hours as the instructor paused it many times to go more in depth on the discussion, point out parts that “should be a good idea to remember” (ie “it’s on the test”) and there was a lot of hands on practice.

Walther PPK
The Walther PPK (aka 007’s gun) became my favorite to practice with in class because the size was perfect for my hand.

While the instructor says that in many classes they use fake plastic pistols, he doesn’t believe in that and he brought an assortment from his personal collection for hands on practice that included over 6 revolvers and over 6 semi-automatic pistols of a variety of brands and calibers. It was fun to handle the model of revolver that Rick uses to kill zombies on The Walking Dead, the one that Agent 007 uses and the one from Die Hard, etc. This was great as I got to practice loading, unloading and dry firing (firing without ammunition) each type which helped me understand some of the many differences between brands and models, start to get an idea of what type to look for and helped me build confidence for the range portion to come later in the day. I don’t think that the course would have been as effective for me without this part so I am glad that my instructor did this.

The instructor also passed around and demonstrated an extensive collection of cartridges from a wide array of calibers, new, empty cases, shrapnel, misfired cartridges and more. He also did a hands on demonstration of disassembling a semi-automatic and cleaning it and the cleaning of a revolver that was a lot more in depth than the video and book and helped me feel confident in being able to clean my own pistol once I buy one saving me the expense of being overcharged by having somebody else do it.

When that was done there was a closed book written exam of 50 multiple choice and true/false questions with a minimum score of 90 to pass. There were several trick questions but the instructor gave us enough hints in advance, warning about tricky wording and told us which parts were important to remember in addition to doing a quick review before starting the test so I felt well prepared. The exam was graded on the spot (swapped among classmates to grade together) and once that part was complete it was range time for practice with live ammunition and qualification. You need to get a group of 5 shots close enough on the target to pass the course.

Our class size was large with 9 students so there was not enough time for everybody to have a turn that day so the instructor started with those that lived further away. At first I thought that I would have to come back for my qualification as the range was going to close soon but I was 3rd in line and the instructor was able to squeeze me in.

I was very nervous about this part even thought I had a perfect score in the written test because I am not known for hand eye coordination or good eyesight. Add to that the fact that the instructor says that I am “special” because I am a lefty that shoots with the right hand but my dominant eye is the left (aka cross-dominant for those of you knowledgeable about this) and he made it sound like it would be harder for me to get a hang of things and make it work. Thankfully he was wrong and I was able to shoot right handed using my left eye with no problem whatsoever requiring minimal adjustment on sighting so I started hitting bullseyes after my 3rd EVER shot.

My biggest confidence booster!

While other students, some with previous shooting experience, had to have several practice rounds before qualifying. I was shocked that I did so well on my first practice round that my second target was my qualification one. In total I only had to shoot 15 rounds before he was ready to move on to the next student and in that process I got to experience a misfire (cartridge malfunction) and had a hot case fly into my t-shirt and burn my chest, fun, fun lol. It was quite the rush and I loved every second of it.

The class was very intense as it was long with no real breaks, not even to eat lunch. We ate lunch while watching part of a video and if you had to go to the bathroom you just got up and hoped that you didn’t miss anything important. Despite it being so long and busy it was always interesting and I felt that every bit of information given was valuable. I was never bored and I am glad that I didn’t take a shortcut by taking a shorter class.

The class demographics were different than I expected, I feared that I may be the only woman in the group but instead there were only 2 men vs 7 women. I was the youngest in the class in my 30s while everybody else was mid 40s to mid 60s.

My next step is now to try to get to the range to practice at least once a month. This part is tricky since I have kids and don’t have my own car so it requires the support of my husband by having him drop me off at the range on a weekend and keep the kids entertained for an hour each time.

The next time I go to the range I will rent different pistols to try to see what I like best before purchasing. Thankfully this range allows you to rent for only $10 per caliber (not per gun) and they carry most of the models that I was looking at so it will be very affordable for me to narrow down my choices. I am wanting to get a 9mm model but I worry about ease of concealment with my existing wardrobe as I am petite and don’t have much in terms of baggy clothes and layers are not suitable to Florida’s hot and humid weather. I did fall in love with the looks of a .380 model that is smaller (but more expensive) and I haven’t tried it yet so the winner is yet to be determined although I am sure that I’ll gush about it here once that happens.

I probably won’t be able to purchase a handgun for several months until I decide on the model and then save enough cash for the pistol, a safe, a holster, a cleaning kit, ammo and extra magazines if needed. First I plan to apply for the CCL as soon as I receive the certificate since that is over a hundred dollars and it can take a long time for the state to process.

Sometime down the road I want to take more advanced courses but due to budgetary constraints it will probably be a while before that happens. Meanwhile, it looks like my husband will be following my steps and taking the course soon.

Once we are ready to bring a gun into our house I will use the NRA Eddie Eagle Gunsafe curriculum for kids.  Most of the resources including the video, workbook and activity sheets are available for free online or they can be purchased for a nominal cost.

gun meme

Posted in Bandora

Battling Wills with Yourself

I have a very bad habit of overloading my plate. It’s good to keep busy but not at the detriment to health.

My entire life I have been in the endless cycle of overworking myself, getting burnt out, getting rid of a lot of the workload to try to recover only to find new things to take their place and start the cycle all over again. Most of the time this happens through volunteer projects, stuff that I don’t have to take on but do anyway on top of everything else that I have on my plate.

struggle is realI never do New Years resolutions but this year I made one to eliminate a lot of the volunteer work and avoid taking on new projects; so far in only 14 days of the year this is proving to be just as hard as the usual “eat healthier”, “go to the gym” and “quit smoking” resolutions. I didn’t realize that I had an addiction!

I like volunteering, however I find that I subconsciously feel like I have to “earn my keep” and spearhead fund raising and outreach projects to help the cause. This is not necessary, nobody is asking me to do this. I don’t know why my subconscious feels like it has to prove anything to anybody but I really need to find a way to stop. These projects, however helpful to the cause, are a lot of stress and take up a lot of time. In the end, my mental health is suffering.

As I try to step back from all of this my brain keeps coming up with new ideas for projects or I keep having to hold back from jumping in and taking over from whoever is now running those projects. It’s such a struggle! Is there a Volunteerholics Anonymous Group?

So since I can’t really have idle hands, I am trying to instead keep busy with paid projects. If I am going to be stressed and overworked I might as well be getting paid for it. In this process I have learned, that while bookkeeping doesn’t pay as well as web design, I enjoy it a heck of a lot more. I actually like doing the stuff that most people hate. I am very tempted to build a new website to get more than the occasional client.

willpowerI just hope that I find the strength and willpower to avoid falling off the wagon.  Meanwhile, if you see me volunteering or proposing new projects, you are authorized to slap me.

Posted in Bandora, Protection

Becoming a Gun Educated Hippie

I hope that you all had a great Yule/ Christmas/ Hannukah/ Kwanzaa/ Festivus/ whatever you celebrate. If you exchanged gifts, what was your favorite present?

I was on the Nice List this year
I was on the Nice List this year

Hubby got me a great gift this Yule. I got a gift card for a shooting range and I can’t wait to use it! I am stereotypical hippie and have never shot a real gun in my life so why would I want this gift? Because I read the news, because I have prepper/survivalist tendencies and know that I can’t rely on authorities to have my back when the $hit hits the fan.

Being prepared to do something is not the same thing as wanting to do it. My goal is to have the knowledge and skill while hoping that I never have a need to use it beyond having fun at a shooting range. I wear a seatbelt in my car, but I am not trying to be in an accident. I am still as much of a pacifist as I was before.

In hindsight, I wish that I would have taken this step 15 years ago. It’s easy to imagine how differently things may have turned out if I had means of defending myself instead of being the victim of a crime that I still suffer PTSD from.

I toured the range on the day after Christmas and was very happy to see how family friendly it is. There were plenty of children shooting with their families. We plan to teach our children gun safety, while taking the logical safety measures and precautions when we do bring a firearm to the home. When they are a little older they can have the option of learning as well.

I am now enrolled for the next NRA Basic Pistol course in a few weeks and after that I plan to apply for a concealed carry permit. I don’t own a firearm yet and it will be a while before I do as I will need to save $$$ for one but in the meantime I want to make sure that I dot my i’s and cross my t’s by getting the education, paperwork and practice components taken care of. The gift card from my husband was generous enough that I will also be able to have plenty of practice time at the range with a rental gun.

Best case scenario: I will have a new hobby.

Worst case scenario: I will be prepared to defend myself and my family. It’s a win-win in my book.

Who knows, maybe in the future I’ll learn to shoot rifles. I’ve never been interested in hunting but it would be a good prepper skill to have. It’s too soon to tell what will happen. In the meantime, I am very excited and eager to get started.