Holli Bragg-033111Listen to Holli Deal Bragg read her column about taking a civilian handgun course.
I pulled Daddy's old .22 pistol from the holster, took aim, and on the order of "fire!" squeezed the trigger. The bullet made a tiny hole right between the spaces of where eyes would be, if paper targets had eyes.
On the second command to fire, I squeezed again. Click. Again. Click. Once more, and Daddy's old cowboy revolver failed to fire. Then, "Pow!"
If I didn't learn anything else last Saturday at the Bulloch County Sheriff's Office Civilian Handgun Course, I learned to make sure your gun is always in perfect firing condition. A misfire on a firing range is one thing - a misfire when a bad guy is coming at you is another.
Having only used the gun a few times to make holes in tin cans, I knew it misfired occasionally. Stan had just cleaned it, and I honestly forgot it had the bad habit of being lazy. But Saturday, it was determined to try to ruin my fun. That's it - time to go to the gun doctor.
Other than the fact that everyone else's paper targets had way more holes in them than mine did, I enjoyed the course, and learned a great deal.
Bulloch County Sheriff Lynn Anderson assisted with the course, but the main lesson was taught by Capt. Todd Mashburn and Inv. Jim Riggs. We met at the Statesboro-Bulloch County Law Enforcement Training Center off U.S. 301 South, and had class before taking our guns to the firing range.
We learned the importance of gun safety and reviewed gun laws. We discussed carry licenses and when it is legally acceptable to fire a gun in self defense - or the defense of someone else's life.
I won't even attempt to "teach" the course via this column, but strongly recommend the course to others. The program was very informative, and between banter and comments from Riggs, Mashburn and Anderson, the atmosphere was very relaxed and friendly.
An assortment of men and women showed up at the firing range - some of us experienced, some who had fired guns but were really rookies when it comes to handling firearms. I must confess that after the course, I realized I fell into the latter category.
I've always known how to shoot. My marksmanship isn't anything that would generate laughter, but it wouldn't win any awards, either. What I did not know, but learned, is how your aim can be tainted by the urge to "throw" a bullet forward, or by incorrect stance that would cause the bullet to fly high.
I learned the correct way to hold a revolver, which is different from the correct way to hold an automatic pistol. I thought I held my gun correctly but found out I was wrong!
I'll never forget how, when firing a friend's revolver many years ago, I tried to steady my aim with my other hand. I was doing it wrong, however, because when I fired the web of my hand in between my thumb and forefinger was peppered with lead. Oh, that was so much more painful than a tattoo.
I learned the cup-and-saucer method of holding a gun, and learned how to hold my arms rigidly as I fired. Like I said, due to the misfiring, my paper target had fewer holes than others, but at least my bullets went where they were supposed to go.
If those paper targets were dangerous criminals, I believe all of us out there would have stopped them cold.
Saturday's course was the first one held, but with the level of interest shown, Sheriff Anderson said there will be more classes, likely one per month until the summer heat becomes unbearable.
The course is, in my opinion, a great public service. With the steady increase in crime, keeping ourselves safe is important, and knowing how to safely and accurately handle a gun is valuable knowledge.
All one needs to take the course is a handgun, holster, 100 rounds of ammunition, sunglasses, a ball cap, and the desire to learn.
Riggs and Mashburn are well-versed and certified in firearm safety and handling, and two nicer guys can't be found. Well, maybe the criminals don't think so, but I think I can safely speak for the rest of the class in saying that we all enjoyed the day.
Anyone interested in the Civilian Handgun Course (Basic) should call 764-8888 to sign up. Just remember one thing - make sure your gun is in good working order, or you won't have nearly as much fun as you would otherwise.
Anybody know a good gun doctor?
Holli Deal Bragg may be reached at 912-489-9414.