Monday, June 26, 2006

Concealed-Carry Class

First off, I'm under criminal idictment for a work related thing that hasn't quite been shaken off yet. This prevents me from actually filing my application at this time. The class was already scheduled when I received my criminal summons, so I figured: "Think positive." The class certification is good for 90 days after you attend.

The class itself was basically 8-5 on Saturday and 9-4:30 on Sunday, so it was a full weekend.

I always stay aware of what people can teach me and culled some good information from the class, albeit not 15 hours worth of good information.

The class was run by an old guy. There's a network of these retired guys that basically fuel the shooting sports in this state. They're the ones who teach classes, who tirelessly lobby congress, and provide FFL services, oftentimes at a loss, just to insure that the heritage doesn't die with them. The old guy running the class did a fine job. And he gave me plenty of cigarette breaks.

What I found shocking were the other people attending the class. Such a concentrated ignorance of firearms was daunting to find in a CCW class. On the first day, a woman asked why you couldn't fire a rimfire cartridge through a centerfire one. One gentlemen claimed he was going to shoot a .45 Magnum while qualifying (such an obscure cartridge does exist, but it turned out he was talking about ACP. He was also the guy that didn't bring the slide back and let go, he rode the slide with his hand) And, of course, you had your smart ass competition asshole who knows everything and is willing to provide his wisdom to you even if you never asked.

I kept my mouth shut (except when nobody knew what a "breech" was.) I was attentive, gained what knowledge I could, and qualified.

Which brings me to qualification. In New Mexico, you have to qualify with the largest caliber you are going to carry. You also have to qualify separately in every class of gun you want to carry, which New Mexico politicians legistated as semi-auto, revolver, and derringer.

I wanted to qualify in both semi-auto and revolver. To this end, I brought the Old Man's Colt Gold Cup and his 4410 Taurus, which is a 5-shot .45 Long Colt revolver that can also shoot .410 shot. I also brought my H&K USP .45 as back up, just in case the Gold Cup got jittery with the Hornady JHPs I accidentally bought.

Qualification consists of a 12" by 24" target at 3 and 7 yards. 10 shots are taken at 7 yards and 15 are taken at 3 yards. You are allowed 7 misses.

Now, semi-auto wise, it seemed relatively easy to load your magazines with the appropriate amount of cartridges for each stage. I for one loaded an 8-round magazine full and another one with 2 for the first stage. I put these in my right back pocket. Then I loaded a full mazazine and one with 7 rounds for the the second stage and placed those in my left back pocket. Thus, qualifying should have taken about a minute and a half. I was wrong.

Qualifying was done in pairs, each shooter with his own target. At seven yards, I shot, changed magazines, and shot again in under 10 seconds. I looked up and the guy next to me was muzzle sweeping me with a Ruger P89 he didn't know how to work. You know, it didn't fire, he brought it down and turned it sideways to stare at it dumbly until the instructor put one in the chamber for him. From that point on, I followed range commands and, when done shooting, brought the pistol down to a guard position and stared at the dirt. I'm sure I was muzzle swept more than that, but I didn't want to know about.

The more interesting one was when I qualified with the revolver. Now this was easy. The Taurus holds 5 rounds. So it's two cylinders at 7 yards and three cylinders at 3 yards. I didn't have speadloaders, I just loaded up my tit pocket with 15 rounds and used the box off the bench at 7 yards. This is where I worried I would slow somebody else down. Not to fear.

On this jaunt, the other participant was a woman with a 1911 clone. Her husband had qualified before her and I noticed that they only had 2 magazines, so the poor bastard was trying to load up his magazines in the middle of qualifying. Me, being the nice motherfucker I am, loaned her a couple of magazines so she could forego that embarassment.

She couldn't shoot, she didn't know how to operate the gun and I think she had a malfunction. I don't know because after the first qualifying, I wasn't about to look at her or what the fuck she was doing. Eyes in the dirt. What amazed me is that I managed to get 15 shots out of a 5-shot cylinder quicker than she could with a 1911. I was loading each shell by hand and still had to wait on the bitch.

This was qualifying as regulated by the state and everyone passed. The instructor added another shooting exercise onto our range time. He thought it would be beneficial to be moving and shoot at a paper plate at 7 yards. Only the obnoxious competition guy and me got more than a round on paper. I used the H&K and got 8 out of 12.

So now I don't have to just worry about cops that don't know what the fuck they're doing, I realize there's a portion of the community that can't spend the time, money, and effort to familiarize themselves with firearms they own. Nevermind marksmanship, understanding stress situations or even realizing what a bullet does to a human body. Truly, I'm aghast.

It occurred to me when I was wiping down the slide of the Old Man's Gold Cup last night, after I cleaned it: How the fuck do these people clean guns they don't even know how to shoot?

Texas is somewhat different. You can qualify with an automatic bigger than a .32, and that qualifies you to carry both a revolver and a semi-auto, if you so choose. If you want to just carry a revolver, you can qualify with that. The strings of fire were somewhat the same: 40 rounds fired at 3-7 yards, 10 at 7-15 yards. You have to shoot 175 out of a possible 250 to qualify. If you haven't made it by the time the targets get out to 7 yards, you're probably in trouble.

Every 5 years, you have to take a brush-up class and re-qualify. I did mine re-up last year. I shot a 229 Sig in 9mm, and brought a USP .45 as backup. My guns are pristine and well-oiled, as they should be. After all, I might need them in the worst possible way one of these days. I thought that's what you're supposed to do with a pistol. The guy next to me was shooting a Jennings that I was scared to death was going to blow up. It was gunked up with what looked like cosmoline mixed with dirt. During the qualification, his slide locked back with a full clip in it, and nothing short of Thor's hammer was going to get that thing back into battery. He borrowed my USP to finish out the string. I had to instruct him about the mag release and the way the safety worked on the pistol. The timed fire strings usually required us to fire 5 shots in 15 seconds, or something like that. I was usually done pretty quick, and got to watch a few of the other students. I could see dirt kicking up next to missed targets, and that was at the 5-yard range. Not to brag, but I had 3 shots outside the maximum 5-point ring on our target, but still on the silhouette in a vital area. Those were fired one-handed after my qualification was locked up, just to see if I could do it.

I've shot pistols since I was old enough to carry one without dropping it, and was relentlessly drilled on gun handling by relatives. I'm not by any stretch of the imagination a terrific shot, but I felt a lot better about my marksmanship prowess after seeing some of the Nimrods who were in the class with me. The sad thing was this was a RE-qualification class. Somebody had passed these folks five years before. I doubt they shot their guns at all during that 5-year stretch.

We are losing our familiarity with firearms, as a societal whole. Nothing underscored that little point more than my concealed class. I'd like to think I could pick up just about any pistol, know how to work it, and probably put most of the shots on target without ever having shot that particular model before. But that's because I have enough experience with them to figure out even something relatively obscure. The rest of the world isn't like that.

I'd like to think a person bothering to carry a gun would bother to learn to shoot the thing, clean it, and have been taught at least the basics of firearm safety, and had them stick. But you're right, there's close to a million people licensed in this state now, and I have a bad feeling that at least 1/2 of them don't know anything about the pistols they are carrying.

While I'm happy that more people are carrying, and the NRA is doing a great job advancing gun rights in this country, I am somewhat worried about the lack of familiarity the rest of the crowd seems to have with something that could save their life, or the life of their family.

I firmly believe that if a person carries, he is taking on a responsibility, not only for himself, but for everyone around him. I wanted to tell the people in my class they ought to take this thing a bit more seriously than what they had in the past. If one has to shoot, one should be able to hit the target without endangering everyone within a 90 degree angle on both sides of the target. Call me a prude.
Our state doesn't require it, but our NRA instructor team made sure we all came back one evening after the weekend class and qualification, and actually hands-on-learned how to clean guns, and our class also included a visit by a Denver lawyer who talked about the legal issues in this state (duty to retreat, make-my-day, don't shoot a departing looter in the back when he's outside your home and heading away (Colorado) and what to do if you ever actually had to shoot someone..i.e., be the first to call the cops, report that you were attacked and defended yourself, make sure the ambulance is coming, and then lawyer up immediately.

Clearly the guys who ran our class were a bit more thoughtful and organized than some.

Doug in Colorado
Geez Ben... That is some scary shit going on at the firing line...

how the hell could you miss the paper plate???

and where the fuck is my brass...

.30 Taurus Ragin Thirty, cleaned once a week after my range session. Not a great concealed carry weapon, but it certainly demands the attention of those who see it.

It's a sad truth, but one you have to acknowledge.

We don't teach guns anymore. There's no central repository for gun knowledge on the internet, no huge surfiet of information available for a new user in books or print. You have to find old gunnies, and they're a dying breed.

Just finding a gun can hard. Some places ban their sale outside of specific shops. Others make sales impossible without a sherif's permission. Gun stores are rare enough as is and getting rarer, as BATFE influences continue to scare away or just plain violently shut down shops who haven't done a single thing wrong.

It can even be illegal to teach people about guns before they are 18, after which we've long lost any chance to give a normal view on firearms. In Ohio, it's illegal to let a minor touch an airsoft pistol before they turn 18, unless you can provide a reason to police. Just think what a normal handgun needs!

We fought a war of defining arguements, and have long since lost. Kids aren't taught how to use or be safe with guns - they're taught to fear them. Kids aren't taught to protect themselves. They're taught to look for protection from authority figures. They aren't taught the joys of plinking : common knowledge suggests a bunch of subhumans on a row blasting away with machine guns and stroking their egos, not the fun of muscle memory or a self-set goal to accomplish. Kids are taught 'hunting' only so they can understand the barbaric acts in the Lord of the Flies, and even then seldom have a full understanding presented.

And even those who manage to resist the indoctrination, seldom can deal with the embarassment of purchasing gun supplies or similar in public.

Embarassment. At something so inherent to society.

Maybe we'll turn it around someday, but until then, expect the brave souls willing to deal with the embarassment of being 'made' won't always be of the highest caliber. We can try to undo that, but it's going to be comparable to driving back the sea with a bucket.
How the fuck do these people clean guns they don't even know how to shoot?

In the dishwasher on the pots and pans cycle.
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