Monday, February 17, 2014

Formal Basic Pistol Training

Last Saturday, I attended my first formal pistol training.  I figured after going to the range four times with my friend, Becca, and subsequently going to a CHL class, that I should probably get some formal training before I developed any bad habits.  My hubby did the online research on local handgun training and registered me for a Basic Pistol 2 class at KR Training.

I'd felt pretty self-conscious at my CHL class back in October because of the way they treated us girls on the range.  Where the instructors were really friendly and talkative to the guys taking the class, they basically ignored us girls socially. While no one was inappropriate or mean, I certainly didn't feel welcome or encouraged to ask questions or take more classes.

Since I knew I wanted more instruction prior to sending in my application, I never sent in my paperwork to get my license.  I just didn't want to subject myself to the same treatment as my CHL class, so I basically stalled out and forgot about it.  Luckily Jason took the lead in finding another range for me to try out.  I'm guessing he knew how hesitant I actually was, not wanting to be treated like an outcast again on the range, so he signed me up and THEN told me about it.  Once I'm committed to something, I follow through.  He knows me well.

I wasn't sure I was qualified to skip Basic Pistol 1 but Jason said that since I got a score of 249 on my CHL range test after not having fired my gun in nearly 10 months, that he thought I was fine skipping to the Basic 2 class. I read everything I could on the KR Training website, learned about the A Girl & a Gun conference from that site, signed up for AG&AG membership, registered for the AG&AG Conference, read everything I could find on the AG&AG website, learned about IDPA and USPSA classifications from the AG&AG conference tracks, resulting in my signing up for IDPA and USPSA and NRA memberships as well.  At this point I was starting to grasp just how much I didn't know, and felt a little like I'd just grabbed the bull by the tip of his tail.  Still, I was committed, and once I'm committed, I follow through.  So I showed up one week later for my first formal pistol class.

The range (A-Zone Range) is about an hour outside Austin. My instructor was Karl Rehn (the "K.R." in KR Training).  There were 14 people in my class, and we were split up into groups of 7 for target/range work. There was a good mix of skill levels, gender, age, etc. among our student body.  The classroom portions were well thought out, formal enough to make sure all the information was covered and informal enough where you felt comfortable asking a question midstream if you needed clarification.  There were several assistant instructors that assisted in the classroom and range exercises. Every single representative I encountered at KR Training interacted with me and they all were friendly, extremely knowledgeable, safety conscious, passionate about firearms and equally passionate about teaching their knowledge to their students. They weren't dry boring classroom sessions either. I had fun learning even before we hit the range.

When we got to the range, safety was paramount.  Everything was organized, the instructors were easy to hear even with ear protection on, the exercises were very structured and administered with a great instructor:student ratio.  There was always someone right there when I had a question or concern or when I was doing something wrong. Corrections (every student made an error at some point or another) were done appropriately and with professionalism. In the Defensive Pistol class, where things were more stressful on the students, the stress was intentionally imposed on the students in an attempt to simulate (to a much lesser degree) the real-world stress of a defensive shooting scenario and the variability of such an encounter. The stress helped demonstrate to each student just how difficult a defensive shooting incident might be and what we need to learn, know and practice to be prepared and effective.

I came away from that day at A-Zone Range so happy, exhausted mentally and physically, with way WAY more knowledge than I expected to get in a single day, with a solid understanding of what I was doing wrong, how to correct those things, and a bunch of new skills and drills to practice, and with more confidence and passion for target-shooting my handgun at the range. KR Training truly exceeded my expectations all the way around. Not only did I learn a lot and have a great time, but they encouraged me to take more classes and made me feel welcome and valued as one of their students.

I am so thankful to Jason for finding this training for me and for the encouragement he continues to show for my joy of target shooting and firearms.  I'm hoping to take a basic rifle class next of course at KR Training.

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