So you got The Pistol for defense, because you’re thinking it might be a good idea these days. And, you took The Class and obtained “The Permit” so you can take it with you. Maybe you also sprung for some boxes of ammo, even different kinds, to make sure you can operate The Pistol and hit something you point it at. Maybe you even bought that excellent “insurance” thing that is becoming popular, as well.
When you pick up The Pistol to carry it today, you wonder if you’re kidding yourself, or if someone might see it by accident and scream “GUN!” in the McDonald’s at lunchtime, because you didn’t hide it so well, or…something else? Could I really point This Thing at someone if I was in real trouble?
This hints that you may have need of mastering something inside you about carrying: The Pistol needs to become part of YOU. Going to a range and making your own perforations is a fine beginning, but it is also clinical, and wasn’t how you would do it yourself. One way to begin melding The Pistol into YOU is to take it beyond The Range and shoot at something not made of flat paper. (Granted, this Place might take a bit of research to find, depending on where you live.)
Here are a few suggestions that may help to make The Pistol not feel so foreign:
- Shoot outdoors.
- Shoot at something that breaks or moves when hit. Plastic soda bottles hung with strings, cans that can be shot “off” of something (don’t use a big rock for this, lest ricochet ruin your day), or even the cardboard box that held your rounds, will do. If you have funds available, look into those tough steel “plate” targets at the sporting goods store (and pick one that suits The Pistol’s caliber).
- Shoot at something that comes apart when hit, so you can learn what the bullet can actually do. (Clean up your trash, please, when done…).
- Shoot at twilight: shoot at night.
- If you have a laser, use it in a non-range situation. Most of these don’t work in daylight: better to know that now.
- Shoot at things very close to you: less than 5 feet away is a good start. (Note: Remember to always wear safety glasses white shooting.) This is more important than you might think: it may well be the target distance of an intruder in your home.
- Shoot with a friend – preferably someone who has their own pistol. Maybe they need this practice, too?
The purpose behind these “drills”, for lack of a better term, is to let your own muscles and senses teach you what you DO and DON’T know about toting The Pistol with you, and deploying it. Those things that don’t easily smooth out in your psyche will become those you will need to work on, going forward. This list is often not short for the newbie shooter, but might well start with: gripping it quickly, correctly, knowing its readiness (Loaded? How many rounds? Chambered or not? Cocked, uncocked? Safety(s) on/off ? Where is the muzzle pointed?) without looking at it. By the time The Pistol is pointed at The Thing you are about to shoot, these questions must all be answered in your head before The Finger meets The Trigger. If you must ask them, you need a little more practice!
Next, by shooting at things that react (or are destroyed) you will begin to lose the sense of “I am aiming and shooting” and will gain skill over other important things like the rhythm of The Pistol (how many shots was that?), the natural grip you have on it (are there shortcomings to this?), and eventually gain the confidence to pull, point, sight, and re-holster without thinking about it so much. You will also learn about what happens, or not, when you hit The Target. When it is not The Paper, it reacts. This becomes feedback to you about what just happened, and after enough of this practice it will also tell you when ENOUGH has happened to accomplish the goal – which was probably Your Safety, which is why you are carrying The Pistol in the first place.
Your own senses will be affected differently when you leave The Paper at The Range and shoot elsewhere. The Pistol will sound different to you, the light will mess up (or improve) your sighting, and the brass may not hit you when you shoot. When you are in a large open area, the recoil and percussion feels different and The Pistol usually feels smaller, just as some examples. There may not be as many other people around, so you can concentrate more on yourself and your new assistant-in-defense, to create a close relationship that may last your lifetime.
Isn’t that why you started “This Thing”?