Shepard Humphries Beginner’s Pistol Shooting Recipe -by Shepard Humphries 2015
Many of our students have purchased a small revolver or pistol constructed of very light material. These little things are great for concealment, much like a small harmonica. For most people, also like a harmonica, they won’t be of great use in a gunfight. Harmonicas and firearms both require practice, and without that practice, they are not as effective.
Choosing the right firearms has much to do with how much practice you will REALLY do.
This is what frequently happens.
A person comes to the conclusion they “need a gun for protection” so they go to the gun store.
The clerk behind the counter says, “Here little lady, this light-weight .357/.38 revolver is perfect, it is easy to use.” For the gentleman, perhaps a sub-compact polymer pistol in 9mm or .40cal.
The gun newbie also buys the recommended ammo and looks forward to taking a class and visiting the range.
They attend a class with a 12:1 student to instructor ratio, and are overwhelmed.
They try someone else’s .22 pistol and love how fun it is to shoot but they shoot poorly with their own gun.
Now this person heads to the range to practice. They shoot a dozen or so rounds, get frustrated that most shots are landing low left, their hand hurts and they assume shooting is simply not comfortable.
They lock their gun up in a safe, with the gun inside the box it came in, right beside their unloaded magazines.
Does this sound similar to your situation? You have been told that you must have at least a 9mm or 45 ACP to be effective against an attacker, right? You are not sure that you should spend $500 on a good .22 pistol for practice, right? After all, you will be using YOUR gun for defense and you “should get used to it?”
Are you ready to admit that your formula for becoming competent and skilled has not been very effective?
I have some suggestions based on training many thousands of students, mostly individually or in small groups. I have seen the same mistakes over and over, and I continue to have students that insist upon creating their own training program. It never works as well as a good formula developed by a good instructor. This formula is not cheap to do. I ask that you trust me and give this a shot.
1) Get a good .22 pistol. Not a Sig Sauer Mosquito or other cheap plastic “budget” option, but a quality pistol that functions reliably. A Browning Buckmark or a Ruger Mark I, II, III or IV is my suggestion. Buy a gently used gun if possible, as new guns are often picky and only function well with CCI Mini-Mag ammo, which is the best stuff available.
2) Hire a GOOD instructor for 2 hours of PRIVATE premier pistol training. I did not say you should use a “good neighbor” or “buddy that was a cop” or a “special forces veteran” that “saw combat.” These folks are all great at what they do, but you need a good INSTRUCTOR. Good instructors charge about what your attorney or accountant charges for THEIR professional services. GOOD ones are worth every penny. You might advise them that you do not want an overview of 15 things, and that you want ONLY the basics drilled into you so that you don’t get confused.
You may bring 1 other person along to learn with you and this will usually cut the training cost, but definitely keep a high instructor to student ratio. Make sure your friend learns and thinks similarly to you. If you are a fast fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants type of learner and they are a deliberate engineer type, both of you will learn far less and will not have as much fun. They might teach you a different grip or draw stroke than you have seen me teach in my videos. That is fine, go with it, it might well work better for you or perhaps a blend of their way and MY way and another way will be perfect for YOU.
3) With an empty gun (triple checked and then again) do dry practice at home. (In a safe direction) Practice getting a good grip, practice presenting your gun and practice your trigger press. If you have forgotten something or are not sure, do not practice it incorrectly! Do not dry fire a .22 caliber, as it can harm the gun. A quality airsoft pistol is also a good idea.
4) Within 3 days of your private lesson, go to the range alone or with the friend that attended the private class with you. Forget mostly about personal protection training and just have fun! If your range allows fun targets like steel spinners or gongs, use them instead of paper. Have fun! Make sure your grip is proper, focus on a gentle trigger press, make sure your sight alignment and sight picture are good and make sure your stance is good. Have a contest with yourself or with your friend. Use a Shot Timer application on your smart phone. Can you beat your own best time? Fire at least 200 rounds of .22 this day, and maybe 5 or ten rounds through your bigger caliber handgun. Shoot a few more through the .22 to finish up your fun session. Fun, huh?
5) Repeat #4.
6) If you liked your instructor, hire her/him again for another 2 hour session. Give them respect by directing them to observe you and evaluate your knowledge and skills, and then teach you and drill you on what THEY think you need most. Let them know that you plan to use them for a third and more sessions as well. If they are a good instructor, they will not overwhelm you with back-flip tactical somersault tactical shooting. They will correct the little nuances that you mis-recalled and will help you hone in on your skills.
7) Go to the range alone or with your friend within 3 days of your private lesson and have fun practicing! Try some of your drills from before and notice how some of the times might be higher because you are slowing down to do things properly. That is fine and good. Keep practicing. Half way through your training shoot 25 to 50 rounds through your larger caliber gun. Go back to the .22 and have more fun!
8) Repeat #7
9) Schedule another session with your awesome instructor! This time, if your budget does not allow ongoing personal training, tell him/her that you will probably practice for a few months before your next lesson, so ask them to prepare you accordingly.
10) Practice at least weekly. Within a couple months, look for a several-day tactical pistol class near you and take it. Blend it with what your other instructor taught you. There are many high speed low drag “celebrity instructors” with YouTube fame that are great trainers. There are also many less-famous instructors that are excellent. Take each class and concept with a grain of salt, and add it to your tool-bag if you like it. Remember to practice weekly!
Article – Which Pistol Should I Buy?
The process I have outlined is not cheap. World Class Shooting instruction is of great value, as is proper equipment. If your safety, and the safety of your family is not worth a few thousand dollars investment, or if you are not in a position to spend that much, this program is not right for you YET. Don’t be discouraged, there are other ways to improve your skills! THIS article has some great tips on how to shoot a pistol.
Once you have a solid foundation, know that there is still much to learn and a lot of gun fun to be had! Keep training!
If you would like to speed up your learning process, schedule a multi-day class in Jackson Hole or we would be happy to come to you. We specialize in private training for individuals, families and small groups. Learn more by contacting us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your specific needs.
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