Michael Russo, Instructor
FEELING AT HOME ON THE RANGE – part one
So, you’ve decided to take you first handgun training class. You’re feeling nervous, anxious and uncomfortable about venturing into an unknown environment. Why do you have these emotions? The answer is probably due to the lack of information.
Information is knowledge, Knowledge is power. So, let’s power you up with the information you need in order to be properly equipped and less worried by the time you arrive at your first Handgun Training Class.
For starters you’ll need a proven quality handgun with a barrel length of no less than 4.00” long (Ideally). Handgun size does matter. A bigger gun (not a tiny gun specifically designed for deep concealed carry), offers you a much better training experience. They are easier to shoot, easier to manage and offer greater versatility as they are more capable of accurate fire when shooting from distances beyond 5 yards. We believe that a gun of this size will provide you with a better platform for learning, resulting in a successful training experience.
Let’s talk about the varying handgun size classifications. Without going into too much detail as to overall length, height, width and weight, we are going to generally define handgun size according to barrel length and magazine capacity. A FULL SIZE handgun is typically considered as a gun with a barrel length of 4.25” – 5.00” and Frame/Grip/Magazine Well, that can seat magazines capable of holding 12–17 rounds (depending on caliber). A COMPACT SIZE handgun is typically a gun with a barrel length of approximately 3.50”– 4.00” in length that can seat a magazine capable of holding 12-15 rounds. A SUB-COMPACT SIZE handgun might be a gun with a barrel length of approximately 2.00”- 3.50” that can seat a magazine capable of holding 6 – 10 rounds. A sub-compact gun is not recommended for a training course unless that course is specifically designed to be a Concealed Carry Course that requires that you train with the gun you carry, and if your carry gun happens to be a sub-compact then that is the gun you will bring to the class.
Choose a handgun manufactured by a manufacturer with a reputation for building dependable handguns. When selecting your handgun you will need to visit your local Gun Dealer. This is where you can or should be able, to physically handle the gun. Before handling the gun be sure you have the store owner’s permission to test the mechanical attributes of the gun. When handling the gun you should be able to easily access and operate all the controls that are built into the handgun. Not all handguns are created equal nor are they designed around your specific body type. So, don’t skip the process of handling the handgun and operating all the controls on the gun. This is the only way to determine if the gun is a good fit for your hand. It is important that you grip the gun as you were instructed in your Basic handgun course, and, with the gun stores permission, pull the trigger and check the triggers reset. You are looking for a trigger that is comfortable for you to pull. If the trigger is too heavy and too hard for you to pull causing the muzzle to move wildly then you need to look at another gun. Another important consideration, which is often overlooked when selecting a handgun, is TRIGGER REACH. You want a gun that fits your hand and allows you to place the pad of your trigger finger centered on the trigger shoe without sacrificing a proper master grip. If you have to break your grip in order to comfortably reach the trigger, then you need to look at another gun. You will also want to make sure that you can access the magazine release with only a slight manipulation of your master grip. If you can, you will also want to take the opportunity to insert a magazine into the magwell and release it from the magwell using the magazine release. Manipulating the release should not be difficult to depress. When the magazine release is depressed, the magazine should fall freely from the magwell. Do this several times to assure consistent results. Next, you will want to test your ability to access and operate the slide stop. Access should be somewhat intuitive and operating the slide stop should require minimal effort. If you are satisfied with everything up to this point you will want to test your ability to manipulate the slide. Do this to determine if you are capable of racking (pulling back) the slide with minimal effort. It should not require a massive amount of effort to rack the slide. If it does, it means the gun is probably a high caliber gun with a heavy recoil spring with an amount of tension that is likely to be too much of a distraction that will negatively affect your training experience. If your level of strength is not adequate to efficiently manage the slide then this is probably not the gun for you. Being able to operate all the moving parts of the gun with a reasonable manner of ease leads to less distraction, disruption and frustration and offers an added degree of safety while on the range. Remember our ultimate responsibility is to safely handle and manage the handgun.
Okay, let’s talk about magazines. Is Magazine capacity important? Yes, magazine capacity is an important consideration when preparing for your training course. Capacity is important because Lower magazine capacity means you will need to carry more spare magazines, magazines can be expensive plus you don’t want to have to carry a waist full of magazines for eight hours. The more magazines you need to carry means you’ll need more magazine HOLDERS and that means more money spent on gear. Higher capacity magazines means you’ll need fewer magazines to carry, and you won’t need many magazine HOLDERS, which means less money spent on gear. Also, higher magazine capacity assures that you will get more uninterrupted repetitions during each of the training drills. Remember we want to get the most out of our training time. Our time is better spent shooting the drills than it is spent reloading
Let’s talk more about the handguns we typically see in our training courses. The most common Compact and Full size guns we see in our training courses are: Glock, models 19 & 17; Smith & Wesson M&P 4.25 inch barrel & full size 5 inch barrel; Sig Sauer P320; CZ P07 & P09, to name a few. All of the above mentioned guns can be purchased for
between $425.00 to less than $550.00 and most come with 2 magazines while others come with 3 magazines or more. If your purchase comes with two or three magazines we recommend purchasing two or three additional magazines. It’s ideal to bring 5 or more magazines with you to a training class. Once you’ve selected and purchased your handgun you on your way to selecting the required gear to support your new handgun. We’ll talk about that gear in next month’s newsletter. Keep your eyes open for part two of: “Feeling at Home on the Range.”
"TRAIN OR BE CHAINED"