Sunday, November 8, 2009

AAR: Bill Tidwell NRA pistol and shotgun first steps classes

The first 2 firearms classes I ever took were NRA first steps pistol and NRA first steps shotgun taught by Bill Tidwell at Reed's Indoor Range in Santa Clara, CA.
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Both were pretty good.  Both assume no prior knowledge, and all gear such as eye/ear protection, guns and ammo are provided.  In both classes, they went over safety, basics of marksmanship (stance, grip, sight alignment and sight picture, trigger control, etc.)
In the pistol class they covered the operation of semi-auto pistols and revolvers.  On the second night of class there was live fire with Ruger MKIIIs and Smith and Wesson .22LR revolvers.  On the second night there was also the opportunity to take the California Handgun Safety Certificate test for an additional $25.

I highly recommend taking the optional third night class for the pistol class.  In that class you get a chance to shoot a wide variety of handguns in different calibers.  I vaguely recall at least:
Revolver in .38 special
.40 S&W Beretta 92
9mm Glock (I think model 19)
Walther PPK in .380 ACP
.45 ACP 1911
revolver in .44 Magnum

All the fundamentals of shooting were taught correctly, however I was having some problems with my trigger control which they were unable to fix(and which were later fixed in a Louis Awerbuck stage 1 handgun class which I'll review later).  So I would say that Bill and his helpers may not necessarily have the best ability to diagnose and correct shooting errors.

In the shotgun class we used pump action, semi-auto, over-under, side-by-side, and single shot break open shotguns, with buckshot, slugs, and mostly birdshot.   There were 12 and 20 gauge shotguns.  Due to the fact that I took the class at Reed's indoor range, it was all shooting at stationary paper targets, which doesn't help you much if you want to shoot flying clays, but is certainly useful for a basic understanding of operating a shotgun for home defense.   They do teach the same course in Livermore at a range with clays.  By the way, also check out Coyote Valley Sporting Clays if you want to try clay shooting.

Overall both classes were well worth the time and money, and a great way to try out shooting without needing to own any guns or shooting gear.  They satisfactorily answered any questions about choosing and buying guns, and legal issues, and covered safely storing and maintaining guns.

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