By Barb Lucas
Recently I have taken classes, Defensive Pistol 1 & 2 and a private lesson to learn how to use the new Smith and Wesson 15-22 rifle I bought to do the quarterly match among other things. I also went to our annual training conference this year. While our sister shooters are great at helping us get started shooting, there is nothing quite like having the individual attention of a trained instructor to fine tune your skills.
My adventure into shooting started three years ago in Poteet, TX, when a friend who was a deputy sheriff asked if I had a gun and knew how to use it because I lived out on a dirt road where they often were chasing illegals, drug runners, and stolen vehicles. My answer was ‘no’.
Lesson 1 was Intro to Handguns at Nardis Gun Club. I did that and didn’t shoot again for several months. Then I joined the San Antonio Chapter of AG & AG and got lots of helpful tips from other shooters but the real next step was a private lesson with Bobbi, our then-facilitator. Individual attention to the details of my stance, grip, and discussion of gun choice (I was still shooting my husband’s compact Baby Desert Eagle) took me to another level of skill and enjoyment. It’s always more fun to be successful!
Conference #2 in the purple track gave me more fundamentals. I started shooting at local competitions which taught me something each time. After some shotgun group sessions with our chapter I decided to focus on my pistol skills. Classes with Karl Rehn and Randi Rogers at conference gave me more confidence in my pistol shooting, but until I took what turned out to be a private lesson with Tammy Hunter for Defensive Pistol 1, I didn’t realize what a difference all that training had made. Not the kind of intensive training to be a serious competitor, but the kind to make me a safe, competent shooter. Defensive pistol 2 gave me a set of skills to practice and build on what I had already learned.
At this point I have moved from the San Antonio area to Chappell Hill, TX, which is between the Snook chapter and the Cypress chapter. Lucky me, lots of choices. Which brings me to the new rifle. I could have figured it out, what button does what, etc. My husband was more than willing to tell me and I had had some instruction from Tabby Baron, who is now the Tampa Bay chapter facilitator. The main factor I have heard from various instructors is that it is not enough to practice, you have to practice good habits.
So with my new gun, I wanted to start with good habits and if I had to pay an instructor to help me start well, it was better than having to pay someone later on to help me overcome bad habits. This is my main point: if you are not shooting as well as you would like to, you are probably not having as much fun as you could be having. Find an instructor to help you; it’s worth the money!