I decided it would be beneficial for Megan (my wife) and me to take a basic handgun/Concealed weapon class. I had not had a gun class since my hunter’s safety course as a young teen and Megan wasn’t totally comfortable with guns as she had not grown up with them as I had. We decided to go to a class put on by Gun and Shooter in Prescott Valley, AZ as we had met the owner and another instructor at the AZ Prepper/Survivalist Expo a couple months ago. From the beginning, they seemed like down to earth guys with a prepper mentality. If I had wanted to make it easy on myself, I could have gone online and just done an online class to get my Concealed weapons permit (which isn’t required in AZ to carry concealed), but the point of going to the class was to learn more about guns, the laws, gun safety and proper shooting techniques.
The course started out with the bare basics of handguns. They had some great tips on how to pick out the right gun, holster, ammo and the benefits of buying used versus buying new. They made a great point about buying a used gun. Most guns that people are selling as used have only had a couple hundred rounds through them, which is really not that used at all in the grand scheme of things. This is essentially the same as buying a new car that has 50 miles on it. In this scenario, you will usually get the benefit of a new car but at a lower price (at the moment this may not be the case as the private sellers seem to have been selling at quite high prices lately). This is essentially the same situation with used guns.
The guys at Gun and Shooter knew the laws inside and out, knew how to explain them in laymen’s terms and were great about explaining what you can and can’t do when carrying a weapon. More importantly they explained not only what you can do, but what you should do when it comes to using lethal force. Glen, the head instructor at Independence Training said something that really stuck with me. He said, “Lethal force should be your last option, but sometimes it is your only option”. I think many times uninformed people believe that others only carry guns because they want to look or feel tough or strong. Independence Training does a great job of teaching and reinforcing that the reason to carry a gun is for protection and the responsibility of carrying a weapon with you should be taken extremely seriously. After the very informative and well taught classroom portion of the class, we were able to go out on the shooting range.
As someone who is comfortable with guns and shoots semi regularly I figured I wouldn’t learn all that much about safety and how to fire my gun, but I came with an open mind. Megan and I both really appreciated the extensive safety training they gave us. With all the gun “accidents” that happen that tend to make gun owners look bad, there are many more gun owners, like the guys at Independence Training, that take safety seriously and make safety their number one priority at all times.
After the in depth safety training, we were actually taught the correct way to assess your target, draw our pistols, aim and hit the target. Both Megan and I were way off the mark in the beginning, but with a couple simple strategies we were able to start shooting decent groups. It was amazing to have the instructors be able to look at our targets and know exactly why were shooting how we were. My problem, that I was able to fix, was trigger control and not jerking the trigger. I don’t have the before pictures, but they were embarrassing compared to the after pictures. With just a few hours of range training with professionals, I felt more comfortable with the gun I was using (.357 Magnum Colt Trooper MK5 Revolver, firing Remington 38 special cartridges) and was much more confident in my marksmanship. This pistol I was firing is a double action pistol and I always had a tough time being accurate with it unless I cocked the hammer first and used it as a standard single action revolver. I really did not want to shoot it at as a double action, but with just a little guidance and time, I was firing the gun how it was made to be fired and had increased my accuracy by an astounding amount.
After the class was over, the instructors stayed later and we talked about prepping. They gave me some great prepping ideas, gave me first aid kit info (they have first aid classes they also teach), and gave some great suggestions for prepper books to read. It was nice to go to a class where the teachers really wanted you to succeed and were so willing to help. These guys are definitely the real deal and genuinely care about people defending themselves and making society a safer place. Check out Gunandshooter.com and talk to Glen to get enrolled in one of their classes. They do a lot of courses in Arizona, but also many other states in the southwest.
It occurred to me that many of us think we know enough on a subject and so in turn don’t think we need to take another class. I definitely realized that I had a lot to learn, and I also realized that the more learning opportunities I take, the better prepper I can become. Being more prepared is not just having more prepper gear, but it is also being able to use the gear effectively. This comes from being trained with the gear and practicing as much as possible. As preppers, we need to be willing to learn more all the time and realize that there is always something more to learn and ways to improve. Once we understand and act upon this, we will be more prepared and more likely to survive any situation.