Two years ago, I’d never so much as handled a firearm. Sunday, I earned certification to apply for my CCW license as I am now a gun owner.
My how times have changed.
When you work closely with someone who pens a column called The Gun Writer, your exposure to the firearms world is vast, to say the least. When you work closely with someone whose not-so-guilty pleasure is training – and then more training – you either adopt the habit or groan a lot. For whatever reason, I fell into the former category a long time ago and really enjoy the “learning” portion of shooting. From classrooms to ranges, I’ve had the pleasure of listening to enthusiasts and masters alike.
After hearing my name read aloud at a recent event raffle of a Ruger LCP, my first thought was, “uh oh … this just got real.”
I’d always assumed there was more to the process – I was wrong. Does the law require a background check? Yes. Is that a burden? No. I answered some basic questions on an iPad. After a few days, the firearm was mine.
But then what?
When I arrived to officially take ownership. Jaci Krawtschenko, one of the Aegis owners, led me easily through the steps. As she rang up my purchase – ammo and cleaning tools – Jaci brightly inquired, “so which of our CCW classes are you coming to?”
Turns out, the one on Oct. 1. Jaci signed me up for the Aegis “For Women by Women” training, which is dedicated to the basics of firearm training and Florida law, but attendance is restricted to females – a first for me in the firearms world.
Certified Instructor Lindsey Wolfe was welcoming and easy going, but most importantly she was full of information from a perspective I had not had before – from a woman’s perspective. Lindsey became a gun owner for personal protection and kept educating herself to the point where she became the trainer rather than the trainee.
The class takes three hours – thankfully. I’m not sure why you would want it to be any shorter. The information is vital to understanding your rights – and your obligations.
Lindsey covered a thorough curriculum but did so smoothly that the time swept by quickly.
- Five basic rules of gun safety – While I knew to always keep gun pointed in a safe direction (or the “don’t point it at anything you don’t want to destroy” rule), to keep my finger off the trigger and to keep a gun unloaded when not in use, Lindsey also reminded me of the importance of being able to clearly identify your target and then knowing what’s behind your target. New top-of-mind reminders for the running list.
- Ammunition types – I had never seen a 22 round before.
- Proper grip – Lindsey showed me literally every angle of a proper grip, which revealed two sides I’d not seen before. I immediately self-corrected my grip when we went to the range, something I owe to her solid instruction.
- Sight picture – I’ve had a lot of people tell me what proper sight alignment means but Lindsey hit the right chords on that Sunday and, sitting in a classroom room in east Bradenton, it all clicked for me. I’m not even sure that I knew before that moment that I hadn’t been getting it … but I sure do now. It really was my favorite part of the class.
- Trigger management – Oh! The middle of the pad! Check!
- Florida law – Honestly, the conversation we had about the law was fascinating, funny and sobering, all at the same time.
I have always appreciated the conversations and what-ifs instructors offer students. Lindsey’s stories were equally thought-provoking examples. Basic safety rule #5: Always be able to identify your target. Is every unexpected late-night noise against your front door a threat? She told a story of woman who had her weapon ready but decided to investigate before shooting through the windowless door. She found her neighbor passed out on her welcome mat – a misidentified front porch after a long night out. She also shared the story of a man whose daughter was babysitting at the home directly behind his house. He saw someone sneak across the back of the home his daughter was in and begin to break into a back window. Without trying to identify the culprit, out of genuine protection for his daughter, he shot the intruder who turned out to be his son pulling a prank on his sister. In a nutshell, rule #5 is engrained in my head for life.
As I said, beyond your right, you have a tremendous obligation, one driven home by the solid instruction I received in this class. I left grateful for the opportunity as well as for Lindsey’s patient passion for teaching. The experience was fun and, most important, it was impactful.
There’s a final segment to certification, and that’s shooting. You must prove to a qualified instructor that you do indeed know how to shoot a weapon in order to earn the certification to carry a concealed weapon.
As I got started:
If you’re considering purchasing or even learning about shooting, there are so many options available. I encourage you to research training options in your area and don’t hesitate to explore local shops. Talk to trusted friends who have already trained. Trust your gut!
I have yet to meet a shop owner who doesn’t get giddy at the idea of introducing this world to a new shooter. Its beyond the sale, too – folks in the business genuinely love to share their passion. Go explore local shops and get to know the people behind the counter. It’s been my experience that once you’ve been through the threshold, you’re family. So ask the questions, learn about the weapons and take all the training your wallet and your schedule will allow.
Is it a big deal? Damn right.
And I can’t wait for my next class.