I did it.
I successfully completed the NRA Basic Pistol Course. I got a certificate and a nifty little NRA badge.
This is a HUGE personal accomplishment. I made the decision to change a lifelong phobia. I slowly acclimated myself to the "gun world" through reading your blogs, talking to my husband, and of course - my friendship with North. Last year, I took the first steps; I successfully shot a gun a few times. This year, I decided the time had come to further my progress; I signed up for the NRA Basic Pistol Course.
I arrived at the second day of the class on Saturday to a full room; every single one of the participants in Part I of the class were there for Part II. The instructors were pleased. Day 2, we recapped Part I, then went on to discussing cleaning a gun ( more about this later! ) and discussing the basics of shooting: position, grip, alignment, and sight picture. We had another recap of safety, and made sure everyone who said they were going to have their own "eyes and ears" in fact, did. Then we headed to the range.
I was in the first group of 7 to shoot. I was assigned the teacher I was slightly less comfortable with to be at my back, watching my form, technique, and correcting any issues. I was a little crestfallen, I really would have preferred the other gentleman; but I was ready to do this. We shot 50 rounds at the target 21 feet away.
I had my husband's S&W 9mm Sigma.
I had my husband's S&W 9mm Sigma.
When I stepped into the shooting range, I was surprised at the noise level. Someone was shooting a much louder gun on the other end of the range, and in the first seconds in the room; I flinched at each percussion.
But after a while, the other sounds fell into the background and I have to admit; I didn't notice them too much.
The first shot I took, I was again startled. My gun was louder than I remembered ( but last time, I was outdoors ) and my hand moved more than I anticipated. Shot 2 and 3, a growing discomfort.
Shot 4...I was nervous. At shot 5...I was biting my lip and trying not to cry. The percussion, the recoil - I was getting upset.
I don't know why - I just did.
I set the empty gun down on the rest in front of me and I turned back. A nice man from my class gave me a thumbs up and a smile. And then the instructor must have caught the look on my face.
He came over to me, leaned in close, lifted the ear protection from my left ear no more than a few millimeters, and said evenly but firmly:
"I wouldn't have let you onto this range if I didn't know you could do this. I've taught you everything you need to get past this. You are here to overcome your fear. You listened to me, you answered all my questions correctly. It's just a tool. Just a machine. You know it won't hurt you if used properly. You're ready to kick that gun's ass. So pick it up, reload it, and punch some holes in that paper."
And he let the ear muff slip back into place, smiled at me, and stepped back out of my lane. I might not have appreciated his teaching style in the classroom, but in the 15 seconds he had been speaking, my appreciation for his teaching grew 10 fold.
I picked up the gun, and I sent another 20 bullets down range. With every bullet, with every reload, it got easier and easier. The percussion bothered me less. I was able to handle the recoil.I kept at it, firing that Sigma, until I was looking at an empty plastic bullet holder.
My first target:
And then my next set of 25 bullets - you can see my confidence growing.
I came home triumphant. My husband and son were proud - but I was doing a little mental fist pump of pride myself. I did it - and I'm definitely ready to shoot more.
This morning, I did my normal Sunday chores - Errands, grocery store, etc. Before the race started, my husband and son went outside to do some chores in the yard. I decided to take the quiet time to sit and clean the Smith and Wesson. I remembered my lesson from the day before, and knew it was my job to clean the Sigma.. My husband came into the house to get some water, and was taken aback at the sight of me at the dining room table, the 9 mm stripped down, and me in front of it - barrel in one hand, cotton swatch in the other. He got a big grin on his face, leaned in close to give me a kiss, and told me not only was he proud of how far I've come, but how incredibly turned on he was at the sight of me successfully cleaning his gun.
The times, they are a changing...