If you're new to owning a firearm, you may be wondering, "What do I do now?" Across the country, there are excellent training facilities that you can go to, such as Gunsite Academy in Arizona, Sig Sauer Academy in New Hampshire, and Boondocks Firearms Training Academy just to name a few. These and many other places service the beginner to the advanced. One of the places that may be an excellent introductory may just be your own town, and that's your local range. Some ranges bring in guest instructors to offer the members or just the public a weekend class. In some cases, it will be for members only.
I like this as an alternative to travel although traveling is very nice. I enjoy training close to home. One reason is that you always forget something, and since the house is right down the road, you can always have it the next day without purchasing an item you already have. Also, it’s a lot easier to get your friends or family members to attend as they may not be as eager to travel as you are. You can also save a lot of money as you don’t have to pay for a hotel, general travel costs, and go out to eat.
Perhaps the biggest reason I like to train locally is that you might know many people attending, so you can always follow up with them and continue your training with the group. They can help you and help you as we may have interpreted a part of the lesson differently. Also, your local club may have leagues to support the discipline you enjoy. For example, trap, sporting clays, long-range rifle, defensive carbine, three-gun competition, steel challenge or defensive pistol matches, and many more.
I recently attended a defensive pistol league for the very first time. This is an indoor winter league, so that's a nice thing to do in the drabs of winter in upstate NY. In my first match, I found several people who were more than willing to help with the facility rules and regulations and if I needed a firearm. Several members gave me their best practices for safety (beyond the four primary rules) and to make sure that you don’t get disqualified from the match, or even worse, asked not to come back. Thankfully I’ll be back.
I had a great first-time experience. Everyone was friendly, willing to help, and offered advice from safety to techniques to shooting the stage. In this stage, a minimum of 18 rounds were required, and you shot the stage twice, using a total of 36 rounds. As that's not many rounds, it's easy to spare from the rounds I have on hand. All kinds of firearms were being used, from full-sized pistols to carrying guns (I didn't see any revolvers, though). The course of fire was not overly complex, and it incorporated drawing from your holster to movement and shooting around a barricade. I’m really looking forward to seeing what they come up with next.
I was not overly concerned with my time at this stage in my journey. I wanted to make sure that I was taking my time to be safe and that the folks I was shooting with for the first time knew that I wasn't there to be a hotshot and tried to impress them with sloppy technique. Showing off never goes the way you want it to, so I try to not show off. My goal was to come back and have people feel comfortable with me and help me become a better shooter. And one day maybe I can help them or even the next new person that comes in.
As I progress, I'll be sure to keep you updated. This is a sixteen-week league, so we will be wrapping up at the end of April. Keep in mind that if you are a member of the club, your cost to participate could be less, so see what it takes to be a member, but it's okay if you're not. Also, if you miss a week, it doesn't seem to be a big deal, so don't stress yourself if you can't make it every week. Just keep an open mind, be safe and have fun. ~ Luke
Born in the southern tier of upstate NY (4 hours from New York City). Luke didn't get into firearms until his early 20's when he came into hunting with family. He works in the construction field and has interests in the Constitution of the United States and the Bill of Rights.