alexandra_thorn: 2009, taken by Underwatercolor (Default)
[personal profile] alexandra_thorn
This post follows an intro post on the topic ( and a post on where I'm coming from ( Additional posts are pending.

The firearm safety class was extremely informative, though a bit overwhelming for me as a rank novice. Sitting next to me was a grad student from Louisiana who was generally annoyed about having to take the course and who didn't understand my anticipation of information deluge. “It's pretty basic stuff, like driver's ed,” he said. Well... I found some parts of driver's ed overwhelming too. Perhaps this has something to do with information being “basic” if you already know it.

We sat and watched a video that went over general safety guidelines as well as the parts and functioning of pistols and revolvers. The pacing was slow and clear but it was nevertheless a lot of information to take in a short span of time. I'd brought a notebook with me but quickly realized that taking notes would be a mistake because I would miss things. About 60% of the way through the time we spent watching the video, I was getting the type of mental fatigue I get in, e.g. a 2 hour conference session with no breaks. I stuck with it, though.

Eventually they interrupted the video and had us go into another room for the “real” portion of the class: physical demonstrations and drills working with real guns and fake bullets (inert “dummy rounds”, not to be confused with blanks, see:

The Boston Firearms instructor is a *very* good teacher. He demanded audience participation, and despite extremely limited time (it's a one evening class that covers how a gun works, how to handle one safely, recommendations for safe gun storage, and the legal restrictions on transporting firearms) he actually managed to instill a little bit of muscle memory. He started the hands-on portion of the class with a short explanation of how most of the courses you can take to get Massachusetts license to carry do not have a hands-on portion, and that he thinks it's basically worthless to sit people in front of a video and expect them to learn anything.

He distributed several different types of revolvers, gave a short speech on the operation and pedigree of each one, then walked us through loading, unloading, aiming, dry-firing, and de-cocking. Which gun you ended up working with for the drills was basically a matter of chance, but he gave people time after the drills to try out one or two of the other revolvers if they wanted. Then did the same with a similarly diverse assemblage of semi-automatic pistols. He asked the paying members of the class to try loading and unloading with their eyes closed. He drilled us repeatedly throughout the class on assuming that a gun is loaded if you can't see that it is unloaded (“Which hand do you shoot with? Let me see how you take this gun.” “Here, feel the weight of this one.” “Isn't this a beauty? Take a look.” [each time presenting the grip to a student with the barrel pointed at his own chest]).

The diversity of revolvers and pistols seemed to do a lot to maintain the interest of the more experienced members of the class. These included a revolver with a 10-pound trigger resistance (a safety measure meant to keep children from firing them), a semi-automatic with no safety, and another semi-automatic on which the safety had been deliberately broken for teaching purposes. He didn't tell us this when he picked up that weapon, put on the safety, and said “The safety is on. That means it won't fire, right?” I got that one right because out of the barrage of information in the video, I did manage to pick up: “never trust the safety.”

After the hands-on demos and drills, he talked to us about gun storage and laws for a bit. This included demonstrating a couple of types of locks for storage, and the legal requirements for storing ammunition separately from firearms, and laws dealing with transporting guns. He mentioned the gun safe depicted in the video and said that he strongly recommended getting one. He also showed us maps of the states that would accept a Massachusetts license to carry (some but not many), and put in a plug for a course he offers that you can use to get license to carry in Florida and Utah. With those three licenses, you can legally carry a gun in most states (*not* in “Live Free or Die” New Hampshire, though, interestingly enough).

Then he distributed certificates and study materials to the people who had paid for the course and gave us directions to the firing range for the “live fire” session.
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alexandra_thorn: 2009, taken by Underwatercolor (Default)

February 2015

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