I’ll be the first to admit, I was ignorant about firearms. I knew it was a right protected by the Constitution, and I knew that they were important to know how to use–but I never actually took the time to learn how to use firearms properly. I don’t think I had ever even touched a firearm until last week. And I’m not proud of that. 

It’s not that my family was anti-gun. In fact, they’re very pro-gun and both of my parents have owned and used guns at different points in their lives. It’s just that we live in a relatively safe neighborhood, with lots of security, and we’ve never felt the need to keep firearms around the house.

After a few of my friends had scary experiences in college, I realized it would be nice to have the peace of mind that comes with a concealed carry permit–but I had NO idea where to start. So I started with Google and found a gun range/training center near me. They’re primarily an indoor gun range, but they offer classes for people of every level of experience. After some research, I signed up for “Intro To Pistol,” paid my $75, and got ready for the 2-hour course. The website told me that I didn’t need to own a gun or bring anything with me except a willingness to learn. 

I showed up 15 minutes early, got signed in, and found the classroom where the first portion of the class would be held. Due to COVID, the 8 of us in the class had to wear masks for the duration of the class, but that was the only thing about the class that was different than normal. 

All 8 of us had varying levels of experience with guns. A few were just wanting to brush up on the basics but were firearm owners and well-versed shooters, while others of us had never touched a firearm. The average age of the class was late 20s to early 30s, although the youngest in the class was 19 and the oldest was 87. 

The instructor, John, spent the first hour of the class going over the “Pistol Basics.” He talked about different parts of the pistol, trigger discipline, stance, aiming, loading and unloading, and tons of other things that you should be thinking about before you fire a gun. He mostly talked about handguns, since that’s what we would be firing in the second portion of the class, but he also briefly touched on revolvers. 

He also provided us each with a plastic “pistol” to practice our stance and grip on. 

After about an hour of classroom instruction, we were provided eye and ear protection and headed into the range. The only grievance I could find with the class was that our face masks fogged up the eye protection we were wearing. It isn’t a huge hindrance, but it can be a bit annoying. Keep that in mind if you decide to take a shooting class during COVID. 

We were split into two groups of four and we each got our own lane, pistol (we used Glock 44s in this class), and several magazines, as well as a styrofoam bowl filled with ammo. 

Then, we started by practicing loading our magazines (up to this point, we had only watched videos in the classroom, and hadn’t actually tried it). We were instructed to load one magazine with six rounds. 

Then, one by one, we headed to our lane and took six practice shots at a target that was 15 feet away. 

Once we had mastered this, we proceeded into practicing drills, such as firing 3 rapid-fire shots, performing a magazine change, and then firing 3 more rapid-fire shots. These drills were performed at 25 feet instead of 15. 

Because of the size of the class, we got about 20 more minutes of live-fire time than a normal class and by the end, I felt very comfortable and confident handling a pistol. 

This particular gun range offers 4 more classes in the Pistol Series. Next, I will take Pistol Basics, where we get to test out 30 different types of pistols and find the right fit. After we’ve purchased our own gun we can take the Concealed Carry Permit Class, then Pistol 1 and Pistol 2, which build on skills we’ve learned previously. The range also offers a 4 class AR series, if rifles are more your speed. 

Whether you’ve been shooting your entire life, or you’re like me and don’t know the first thing about guns, I highly recommend taking one of these classes. Even if you don’t go on to purchase your own firearms, the class will help demystify them and make you feel more comfortable around your friends and family members who might be carrying. 

Georgia G

Georgia Gallagher graduated from the University of Alabama in the summer of 2019 where she majored in Journalism and Political Science. She is currently working as a Cast Member at  Walt Disney World in Florida. In her free time she can be found advocating for pro-life policies and working with single or low-income mothers. She often says that her planner is second only to her Bible and she’s never caught without a cup of coffee in her hand.