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Old July 2, 2001, 11:03 PM   #1
David Park
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Join Date: June 29, 2001
Location: Alexandria, VA
Posts: 1,224
very first firearms class - Gilbert Range (VA)

Thanks to the guys in the Northern Virginia FU-UN Shoot thread, I found the Gilbert Small Arms Range in Springfield, VA, on Sunday. I had no previous experience with guns (other than a BB gun and airsoft pistol) and I wanted to learn. They offer a firearm safety and basic shooting course every Monday from 6:30-10:00PM. The cost is $40 and everything you need is provided. There's a limit of eight people per class, but they said that often people don't show up.

I signed up for the July 30th class but decided to drop in today to see if there was space. Luckily there were only five other people, so I joined today's class. There's a small room off of the showroom which they use as a classroom, and there we started discussing what we could expect, the legality of self-defense (particularly in Northern VA), and basic firearm safety. Then our instructor showed us some revolvers and semi-auto pistols, explained the safe operation of each, covered the differences like single-action vs. double-action, and passed the guns around so we could examine them. He covered proper grip, stance, aiming, and how to practice proper technique. Then he handed out our practice pistols (.38 revolvers, but you can bring your own pistol and ammo if you want) and explained range procedures. Then we picked up safety goggles and hearing protection and headed to the range.

We started off by loading and firing two rounds (double-taps) three times on command. Then we were free to load and fire the remainder of our 50 rounds. If we wanted we could try some close-up point shooting. I mostly stuck with an isosceles stance, but I also tried the Weaver stance and some point shooting. I really didn't know what to expect as far as recoil, but the gun was pretty easy to control except when quickly double-tapping the target. I'm sure my stance, grip, etc., weren't that great, but I did see a little improvement between round 1 and round 50. I really liked the .38, but I don't yet have anything to compare it to.

My accuracy was pretty good--I put 49 holes in the silhouette (don't know where the other one went, probably off the edge when I was point-shooting at a number) and the vast majority were within the 8-ring. I also put 8 rounds through the head during point-shooting, but that was at a distance of maybe 3 yards. We got to keep our targets if we wanted, and mine is now hanging on my bedroom door.

After the range time, we sat down again and discussed ammo for self-defense, the concealed handgun permit process in Northern VA, and again covered the responsibility of gun ownership and the need for safety. Then we each got certificates than can be used with the CHP application.

I really enjoyed the class. I've been reading about handguns and self-defense, but now that I've gotten my hands dirty (literally) I can combine what I've read with a little practical experience. I realize I still have a whole lot to learn, and I could tell on the range that I will take a lot of practice before the proper techniques become second nature. I'm still not sure if I want to buy a gun for several reasons, but at least I will feel comfortable if I want to go back to Gilberts and spend some time on the range with a rental gun. I'm also thinking of applying for a Concealed Handgun Permit anyway, just because it's my right.

I'm looking forward to the upcoming FU-UN Shoot, and hopefully I'll be able to try some different handguns there.
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Old July 5, 2001, 04:18 PM   #2
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Join Date: October 6, 1998
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David,
Good on you, and welcome to the ranks of American firearm enthusiasts.
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