Sunday, July 31, 2011

NRA Class Day

So even with summer heat I open my windows and turn on the ceiling fan at night - I like the fresh air and the summer night sounds.  But occasionally those night sounds are a bit startling - at about 5:15 yesterday  morning  this sound brought me right up in bed and set off every dog in the neighborhood.

Granted, even though it  was Saturday my alarm was set early because I needed to be in Gore, VA, at 7:30 am to meet Jeff and Gretchen Burch of Take Aim LLC for my NRA basic pistol class.  We were actually training and shooting in Hampshire County, WV, but after the first couple turns I realized why they met us up on Rt 50 rather than try to give us directions to the training site.  Also realized that if they didn't agree to lead me out after class I'd never get home again - talk about a guarantee of payment plan!  There was a moment when it appeared the day might be unpleasantly truncated - a mud covered pickup was sitting in a very "*&$! I'm gonna end up in the crick" location - but a quick check of the cab found no nasty surprises, so on we went to the property where Take Aim holds its classes - 300 spectacular mountain acres in the Potomac Highlands of West Virginia.

Class itself is held in what I suppose could be called the hunting cabin.  Yeah, well.  Roughing it it's not and we were quite comfortable.  Jeff and Gretchen are great.  It's obvious they love shooting and know guns.  Class was jam-packed with information, with plenty of room for questions, and I felt very comfortable in asking.  There was also lots of good humor and fun.  I had been afraid it would be a grind.  The day, although hot, was dry, and to me it was the perfect summer day to be outside playing.  If I hadn't been learning, having fun, and enjoying the company I would have resented being inside.

It happened to be an all girls class with various levels of gun experience, and Jeff and Gretchen were generous with their own guns, letting us handle them, disassembling them to show us how things worked, offering to help with choosing personal firearms in the future.  Always, of course, with an eye on safety.

Gotta say - the instant I saw and handled a Walther P22 and found out you can get the same gun in 9 mm my thoughts about buying a polymer gun were revised.  Like my Browning, it felt great in my hands the instant I picked it up:

I  can't afford it this year, but a Walther P99 may be in my future.  Drooling was involved.

My one gripe about the course is the same gripe Jeff and Gretchen themselves have - the NRA course materials that they have to teach from do not follow the materials provided by the NRA for students.  They have now cross referenced everything themselves, but the NRA needs to redo the instructor's PowerPoint to match the student's book. However, I learned a lot and a lot of separate bits of information that I had floating around were tied together during the class.  Plus they fed us.  There were potato chips. Things balanced out.

And then there was range time - yay!   LOTS of range there.  This is definitely a gun lovers place.

Yes, those are targets.  But we were using something a tad closer and more mundane.

I got to play with the P22 - with a silencer no less.

And then Jeff put sub-sonic cartridges in the P22 and simply plinked one of those cars waaaaay up there.  I want to be able to do that sort of distance and accuracy with a pistol with so much seeming ease.  That was so cool! And, oh yeah, the fact that the bullet hitting the car made more noise than the actual firing did was very cool, too.

I killed the bad guy dead with my little S&W .38 AirLite Ti, the Walther P22, and a Glock 9 mm.  The Glock made me laugh - every single discharged shell pinged me on my right temple.  Every single one!

The shots that are lower and to the left are the first ones from the .38.  It's as if I need to get used to the gun again and then I stabilize.  I noticed that my aim is stable through about half the trigger pull on that gun.  Then as trigger tension increases I start moving a lot.  Right at the end I have to really bear down and focus.  Then BANG!, the gun kicks up, and it's time to do it all over again.

It was a really good day - I highly recommend these folks.  They are working to get certified to teach the home defense course, and I intend to take it when they offer it.

And as an end note to a great day - I also highly recommend Thai II in Winchester, VA.  With a Beerlao on the side.  Yeah boy!


  1. Good for you!

    And that gal in the blue top...she seeing anybody?

  2. @ML - sorry, dude. Wedding in October.

  3. Excellent! Congratulations to you! Yeah the NRA training department can use some work, but we overcome!

    Glad you had fun and learned a lot!

  4. Good for you, glad you took the class and found a 'new' dream gun :-)

  5. Any day spent on the range is a good day.