Gun School – Eight More Join the Gun Culture

After having taught many people to shoot, I’ve found a universal challenge (in addition to the well-known and documented challenges): It seems that most people have a hard time grasping the idea of charging a semi-auto pistol or rifle.  There is a tendency to want to ease the charging handle (or slide) forward, rather than pulling it all the way back and letting go, so it can fly forward under its own spring tension as should be done.  We demonstrate the technique, and explain why it should be done that way– the gun operates this way every time it’s fired, and it’s necessary to let this happen when charging it by hand, so as to ensure a solid lockup of the mechanism prior to firing, and in some cases, to avoid having your fingers bitten by the mechanism.

Still, while doing a team-teaching session this weekend in NRA Basic Pistol, we had a guy cut his finger while charging a MK II pistol.  “It will bite you” I tell them now, “if you don’t let go of the slide.  Just let it fly forward.”  In my next class it will be an objective to see to it that this doesn’t happen again.

It was a very rewarding day, and all the students came away from it satisfied that they had acquired a good basic understanding of the safety principles, of pistols, and of pistol shooting.  The fact that it was a twelve-hour ordeal came to my mind only afterward.  For those who would like the rewarding experience of teaching people to shoot, using proven, time-tested methods, see Joe’s post here or contact the NRA about instructor training classes being held near you.


5 thoughts on “Gun School – Eight More Join the Gun Culture

  1. I’ve had similar issues myself, when I was first starting. There’s just a tendency to avoid letting metal slam in the rest of civilian life. I’m not sure if there are any good solutions, other than just pointing it out a lot, or starting them on a gun that doesn’t feed well.

  2. Its a very counter-intuative thing. When you are new to guns everything is done SLOW. Slow Fire with a slow squeeze of the trigger, and the gun is to slowly come up on target, and target aquisition is to be slow…yet when you pull the action back on a semi-auto you’re to just “Drop” it and let it slam home as fast as it will go. Doesn’t make as much sence.

    I personally explain how the gun cycles, and point out the action is DESIGNED to reciporcate VERY fast and VERY hard (With a semi-auto pistol I use this moment to point out any dangers of slide-bite), so to gently ease the slide back is actully against how the gun was made.

    Just my observations.

  3. I had trouble getting students using revolvers to understand loading when they did not have enough bullets to fill the cylinder. I explained how the(empty) gun worked, showed them how it worked, had them operate their own pistol, then we went to the firing line and I gave them one cartridge to shoot at a target. Most flubbed. Single action and double action confused them. By the end of the course they were all pretty good shots though. For the last range session, they shot at playing cards on edge (10 feet). They were sure proud of their hits.

  4. Yes, it’s not easy for a beginner to load one round into a revolver and have it in the firing position when the piece is cocked. It’s even trickier with a nine-shot because the chambers are much closer together. The two revolvers we used that day, both brought by the other instructor, rotated the cylinder in the same, counterclockwise direction. I have others that rotate clockwise. I don’t know– maybe one could use a Sharpie to mark the cylinder at both sides of the top strap, then have the student load the one round into the chamber just to one side of the two marks. Then again, they should learn to do it without marks, and after missing it once or twice, most of them picked it up pretty well. These were double actions. In a single action, you load one round through the loading gate, then count clicks. A break-top action might be interesting, so they can visualise things a little better. Maybe I’ll use that to justify getting the Schofield I’ve been coveting.

    I hope you’re not having them load a cylinder with bullets. Wouldn’t that just clog up the gun? Better to use complete cartridges. ; )

  5. Not every weapon comes with the Forward Bolt Assist, or whatever they call it on the second model of the M-16. There was actually a reason for that: A desire to charge the weapon silently, and a sometime necessity to just jam the thing home if the powder residue had things all gummed up.

    My damn-near worn-out Star PD taught me about this by refusing to go into battery unless slammed into battery, good and hard.

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