Practice makes perfect.
This is a loaded statement, because in all reality, you will perfect what you practice whether it is correct or not. That is why it is essential for an individual to get quality training.
When deciding what training to get there are a few things to consider: First, What are you training for?
If you are interested in protecting yourself and those around you, it might not be the best idea to take a hunting or competition class, even though those classes might be teaching the right things for that category. This section caters to handguns, pistols specifically, but most of the points can be applied to rifles as well. Find the training that is right for you and caters to your specific needs and where you desire to progress to.
Note: Taking a handgun carry permit class will not teach you everything you need to know about shooting. You shouldn’t get the permit until you know how to shoot your weapon and are prepared to carry it. Because if you are carrying and you don’t know how to shoot, you are carting around a weapon for your attacker to use on you.
The next thing to think about is pricing. Unless you are blessed with a bottomless pocketbook, you are probably asking yourself ‘what am I signing myself up for? Will this cost more than I am willing/able to pay? Is it worth spending a few hundred to a few thousand dollars on? Etc.’ Well, ladies, I share your predicament. Owning, operating and outfitting firearms is not generally cheap. However, there are often more economical ways to every expense, and we’ll learn more on that specific topic in a later post. For training specifically though, finding a really good basic training course is essential. And will be worth the cost just so long as you are applying what you learned and practicing often.
[This is my first target from practicing this past weekend. I’m not perfect, and I’ll just tell you right now, you aren’t always going to have amazing grouping, and sometimes your nail polish will get chipped. It’s okay. Just keep going!]
Get good training, and then apply it. Use it. Practice. If you don’t use what you learned you are wasting your trainer’s time as well as the money you spent. Now I do understand when you say, “But I haven’t got any time to train, not to mention practice!” I’m in the same boat. Finding the time and motivation to practice just isn’t a priority for most women. It’s hard and awkward, and for the majority of us ladies, we just aren’t comfortable wielding implements of death and destruction. However, I figured out a simple solution for daily/weekly practicing a while back. Maybe it’s silly and most guys would laugh (let them!), but there are these airsoft handguns that are all metal and are close to the same weight and size as a real handgun.
For some mysterious reason, they are so much easier, and even fun, *gasp* to practice with. (Maybe because you can rest assured that if it accidentally went off it wouldn’t kill anyone.) It is also really easy to target practice with in the backyard. A piece of wood will stop the little plastic pellets – so no fear of it punching through your hedge and killing the neighbor’s cat.
If you live within city limits, have a hectic schedule, or just aren’t comfortable practicing with a real gun without supervision yet, this might be an option you should consider. Also, they’re not very expensive. A fun way to practice with these is to get a tin pie plate and hang it up in front of something secure that will stop the pellets. Then plink away! It is very satisfying to hear the Tink! Tink! Tink! of your projectile smacking the target. As you get better, you can use smaller and smaller targets to tighten your grouping*.
*Grouping – The placement of multiple shots on a target in one shooting session. The closeness of the grouping, the nearness of all the shots together, is a measure of the accuracy of a weapon, and a measure of the shooter’s consistency and skill.
Okay, so what to practice?
Well, your trainer should give you a list of things that you can practice on a daily basis. In case he/she didn’t, here are a few things to work on regularly. (I will be writing a post about techniques and proper execution of these practices very soon so stay tuned for that!)
First practice getting a really good two-handed hold on your handgun (Pistol). You might like some help making sure you’ve got this. Make sure your gun is unloaded and the chamber is empty. Then take your strong hand (this depends on if you are right handed or left-handed) and firmly embed the grip in the soft fleshy part of your hand between your thumb and pointer finger. Your hand should be as high up on the grip as possible and holding the grip as tightly as possible. Now press your other palm to the first palm/exposed grip and wrap your fingers tightly over the other ones. (Long nails don’t work well with firearms. I’m not saying cut them all off, but you may want to file them down a bit. They will get caught on stuff and break, also fingernails stabbing into your palm when gripping a gun, doesn’t feel extremely pleasant.) Your thumbs should run, stacked, parallel with the slide. Note: if your fingers are on the slide, they’re going to get pinched. This is painful and something to be generally avoided if you like keeping blood inside your body.
This guy is demonstrating this hold really well, except that his thumbs need to drop down a bit. (Sorry these aren’t ladies hands. I’m working on getting some women’s examples soon.)
Face your target. Your feet should be in a comfortable stance, legs about shoulder width apart with one foot forward more than the other (for me, my left foot is forward about 5-6″). Your arms should not be locked. Instead, they should be slightly bent so as to absorb the shock from the gun firing.
This helps you to refocus on your target quicker after each shot. Which in turn helps your accuracy. Lean forward into it a bit. It should be rather difficult to wrestle that gun from your hands at this point. This is good. You have more control this way.
Now you are ready to shoot. I suggest setting a preferred grouping for yourself and practice until you get all your shots in that area. Next time you shoot you can make it a bit smaller. Go easy on yourself, the first time you go out to shoot, your goal may be to just get all the shots on the target itself. That’s okay.
Like most of you, at this point in learning all this, I was saying to myself, “Um, this takes a long time. What if I need to shoot fast to defend myself?” But like we said at the beginning, practice makes perfect and eventually, with practice, picking up your gun like this will become second nature and will take you no time at all. It’s sort of like putting on mascara. At first it was sloppy and took a long time, but you soon got the hang of it and it’s not a problem now. So be encouraged! You can do this!
Well, this post waxeth long. I shall write more on the many questions this epistle has probably aroused, very soon. If you have specific questions you would like answered, please tell me in the comments. Thank you for your time, and have fun practicing!