Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Miami Valley Shooting Grounds - First Time Shooters Course

My husband and I are both supporters of the second amendment, and here in Ohio, they're pretty big on that right, too. In Ohio, it's legal to open carry without a permit, and there are no gun registration requirements. We've talked quite a bit about getting a firearm for home safety, and we recently became a bit more serious about it. We finally decided to go on a "date" to attend a First Time Shooters Course at the Miami Valley Shooting Grounds in Vandalia, Ohio.

* Most images courtesy Miami Valley Shooting Grounds Facebook page.

On Friday, July 18, we headed out to the class, tucked away in a wooded area off of Rip Rap Road. We paid $45 for both of us ($35 for the first person, $10 per person thereafter). Everything needed for the class was included, including the .22 caliber firearms, ammunition, ear protection, and eye protection.

We met up with Jim Montgomery, the First Time Shooters Course Instructor, and the Miami Valley Shooting Grounds' longest standing volunteer.

Jim has been in the firearms industry since 1970. Jim was very kind and talked with us a bit about how the ATF only offers a 4-hour First Time Shooters Course, and how most people don't have that time to commit to. It was for that reason that he created a condensed version of that course. Jim's First Time Shooters Course aims to teach people how to handle a firearm, how to load and unload a firearm safely, and also to teach sight alignment, hand grip, and to buy the right ammunition.

We watched a video, about 20-minutes long, going over the basics of firearm safety. We learned quite a bit in this short video, including the difference between a single-action firearm, a double-action firearm, and a semi-automatic. We learned how the weapons work, as well as a bit about ammunition.

The video also taught us how to grip the gun, how to load a gun, and how to know whether you're left or right eye dominant (to know which eye to close when shooting, if you can't keep them both open with accuracy). He also discussed with us about how a .22 caliber firearm is likely to piss someone off if you don't hit the right spot (a playing card size area on the face, or down the spinal area).

Needless to say, there was a lot to take in during those 20 minutes, but Jim was kind enough to stop and ask if we had any questions, and to also "quiz" us to make sure we were paying attention.

After the video, Jim discussed with us how a 9mm pistol is the most commonly known firearm. His acronym is MILL, for "millimeter," and includes the basics of firearm safety. Jim created this acronym himself, and I must say, it's quite clever and easy to remember.

Pistol image provided by m4tik on FreeImages.com
Once the video was over, Jim walked us through loading a weapon (without any real ammunition) to teach us how to handle the weapon safely as we load it. We walked through the steps about five times before we "fake shot" a target. We also discussed the proper steps to take before firing a weapon.

Stance - Keep your dominant leg slightly back to allow for range of motion during recoil. Keep your back straight, and your head up.

Grip - Maintain a proper grip at all times, and index your trigger finger until your sights are on your target.

Sights - Keep your sights properly aligned. Move your weapon, not your head to align your sights.

Trigger Squeeze - Squeeze with the pad of your finger. Don't squeeze with the inner joint of your index finger.

Once we were comfortable firing our imaginary weapons, we put on our protective gear and headed out to the practice shooting range. We were shooting paper plates with a red "bullseye," from about 10 feet away. The real range is actually twice that distance. We both received two plates--one on the left, and one on the right. Jim is very serious about firearm safety, so we were given one bullet each to begin with, until we were comfortable. He then increased the amount to 5 bullets, and finally to 10. We shot the left plate first, using about 25 rounds, and then the second one so that we could compare results.

I found guns to be rather intimidating--more so than I expected. As a result, I was somewhat shaky, and Jim allowed me to take a break before shooting again. He was a very patient man, and when I was ready to shoot, he talked me through it. There were a few issues with my grip and locking my wrist, but Jim corrected me and had me shooting more accurately by the second plate.

While I never hit the bullseye (my husband did), I stayed within the circular area of the plate, and away from the edges (for the most part). Justice told me that he's confident if I shoot an intruder, I'll hit him if I am for the chest, but if I am for the head, there's a 50/50 chance I'll miss.

Justice's Targets
My Targets

Practice makes perfect, though, and we will definitely be back.

Overall, we really enjoyed the class. It was thorough, and Jim really took his time with us. He didn't seem rushed, and he seemed to thoroughly enjoy teaching--it's clear that he has a passion for firearms, and he puts safety first. We plan on going back, to continue to hone our skills.

If you're interested in taking the First Time Shooters Course at the Miami Valley Shooting Grounds, call and make an appointment at 937-898-3711, or visit the Miami Valley Shooting Grounds website.

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