It was the most amazing thing this morning to walk onto the gun range and without any help at all just pick up a pistol of a make and model I've never handled before and safely load the magazine, insert it into the pistol, pull back the slide, aim and fire off several rounds and hit my target. I mean just yesterday I was terrified to pick up a gun. Now I recognize the common parts and features that let me safely use and handle them no matter what kind of pistol it is.
And for anyone who thinks there is some mystique or mysteriousness to guns, try field stripping and cleaning one. That will wipe out that image real fast. I think it's safe to say I definitely do not want to own a 22 semi-automatic. You have to completely take them apart into half a dozen (or more) little pieces and springs before spending 15 to 30 minutes scrubbing every crack and crevice with a variety of confusing rod accessories. And worse still, you have re-assemble the gun afterward! Now I've purchased furniture from Ikea before and I have yet to be able to assemble them alone even with clearly printed directions (hooray for ADD!). There's no way I can put a semi-automatic back together after field stripping it.
Pistols should actually be taken apart and cleaned every time you shoot them. And even after you clean it you have to clean it again 3 days later because the chemicals used to clean your gun can take days to pull the fouling out of the pores of the metal.
During the first shooting portion of the class I found myself falling back on my class favorite, the double action revolver. However I realized there was a point where I needed to avoid what was easy for me and force myself to do something more challenging. So I voluntarily moved on to a Ruger 22/45 semi-automatic. I did encounter problems again; misfires and the slide half cocking. But this time the instructors blamed the ammunition. Apparently 22's are very fussy and often will only operate properly with a certain brand or lot of cartridges or a particular power of rounds. You pretty much just have to experiment with your gun until you find exactly what makes it operate properly. To which I say, hell no. Give me an un-fussy, old fashion revolver.
I was once again frustrated with how my lack of upper body strength makes it difficult for me to hold a weapon straight for very long. I was not able to shoot one handed at all with most of the guns. They were too heavy for me. And sometimes even two handed I had to put the gun down and rest after the first 3 or 4 rounds. Damn! But I adapted.
After we took our tests and the class was over the instructors let us sample some higher caliber weapons. These were their own private guns and so we paid them 25 cents per cartridge to shoot them (all ammunition previous to this was covered in the cost of the class). Of the three guns they let the students test I had eyes for only one. I loves me some 9mm! I made a beeline for the 9mm Glock before any of the other students could get to it. Just as I recalled from having shot one in LA, the recoil was like being kicked by a horse! I experimented with different shooting techniques but eventually I found the recoil so hard that I would start to anticipate it even before I pulled the trigger. I love 9mm's and the instructor highly recommends Glocks because they are so easy to use and clean (and need less frequent cleaning) and they take a beating and just keep lasting. But the problem is that my hands are so small that I need a smaller 9mm. But if the handle is smaller then there is less there to absorb the recoil and so I will feel even more like some one is trying to shove me over every time I fire the gun.
The shooting portion of class took place on a shared range and I noticed a father there with a couple boys who appeared to be around 12 or 13 years old. My thought was that target shooting at such a young age would certainly give them a healthy reverence and respect for guns. I could be wrong. I found out at the end of class that the boys were handling the guns in an unsafe manner and the Range Master had to speak to them. And usually "unsafe" means they were actually letting the muzzle of the gun wonder in directions that did not include the target (like holding it in your hand as you walk over to some one and have a conversation with them). And since I was the one standing directly next to the boys as I was shooting my target, that's just downright scary. I really don't think anyone should be allowed to target shoot without taking this pistol course and getting their certificate first. It pounds gun safety into your head until safety is the first, second, third and last thing you think of every moment that you're near a gun.