Born and raised in Green Bay, Wisconsin, I’m definitely no stranger to being around firearms. That being said, the most hands-on experience I’ve had with shooting involves a BB gun and a soda can… My name is Kyra and I’m a first time shooter living in Denver, Colorado. I’m here to take you with me on my shooting journey at Centennial Gun Club in hopes that new shooters, especially new women shooters, will be able to follow along and experience this journey with me!
The First Impression
As a 22 year old woman approaching an environment that can often be portrayed as no less than intimidating, you can imagine how I was feeling on my first day. I’m however eager to note that my feelings were quickly altered due to Centennial Gun Club’s welcoming community and helpful staff members that were prepared to lend a hand no matter my age or gender. The intimidating stereotype that surrounds shooting ranges was quickly forgotten in my mind, as I was welcomed by employees and pointed in the right direction for my first course, Pistol 101.
Pistol 101- Introduction to Pistol Training
I was able to spend the afternoon with Centennial Gun Club’s Director of Training, Marshall Suetterlin, who walked me through the curriculum of their Pistol 101 course and taught me the basic fundamentals of shooting a pistol for the first time.
If I could only give you one takeaway from this course, it would be the three firearm safety rules of shooting, which are as follows:
Keep your gun pointed in a safe direction at all times.
Keep your finger up and outside of the trigger guard until you are ready to fire.
Know your target and consider its background.
These key learning points are crucial in anyone’s shooting journey whether they are a first time shooter or have years of experience. While the aspect of safety with firearms is something new shooters certainly don’t take lightly, it’s comforting to know that even those with years of experience are on the exact same page. Marshall was successful in making sure I knew that regardless of how familiar someone may be with firearms, safety is ALWAYS the #1 priority at Centennial Gun Club, and everyone is required to follow these same 3 rules at all times.
In addition to these safety essentials, I walked away with the knowledge of many other shooting fundamentals that I feel are important to note:
1. Breathing, grip, and posture
Without the right breathing, grip, and posture combination when shooting a pistol, you’re unlikely to hit your desired target. Marshall walked me through the correct way to stand, hold your pistol, and breathe in order to get the best outcome after you pull the trigger.
2. Sight alignment
There are 3 sights to consider when shooting your pistol, the front sight, the rear sight, and the sight of your desired target. While these are all important in one way or another, the primary sight that you should be focusing on when shooting is your front sight.
The front sight will tell you where the gun is pointing and where the shots will go. When aiming the pistol properly, the rear sights should be blurred on both sides with equal portions of light on each, and your front sight aligned in the middle. Without this sight alignment, you’ll have less control over where your shot will land on the target.
3. Trigger manipulation and follow through
After your sights are properly aligned, the next crucial component to hitting your target is how you pull the trigger and what you do after pulling it.
Pull the trigger slowly and with the center of your forefinger. After fire, make sure to follow through by removing your finger from the trigger entirely, let the recoil happen and track your sights as they move up and down, then re-acquire your sights for an acceptable sight picture.
The Hands on Learning of Pistol 101
Upon completion of the classroom portion of Pistol 101, I was able to get my hands on a pistol and begin shooting. Marshall was great about including the same fundamentals on the range that we learned in class, and then some. We were also able to cover loading and unloading the firearm, the importance of checking to make sure there is no ammunition in the chamber, clearing the magazine, and more. I felt safe throughout the entire duration of my time on the range and could tell that the other shooters were very respectful of their surroundings and were practicing their drills in a safe manner.
Although this day was full of firsts for me, there wasn’t one moment where I didn’t feel safe or comfortable with my surroundings. Marshall and the rest of the team were there to help me feel secure in this new environment rather than intimidated, and I’m eager to return to Centennial Gun Club in the near future so I can continue my shooting journey and further my learning!
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