Sunday, August 03, 2008

Handgun shooting

I had my first experience firing a real handgun yesterday. I went with some friends to a local shooting range. It's not something I normally would have thought of trying, but I think it was a worthwhile experience. Guns are a fact of life in American society. Sure, I've gone my whole life so far never having encountered a handgun, but as one of my friends suggested, it's probably better to be at least familiar with one just in case. Granted, the operation of a handgun isn't complicated, but there are a few details I wouldn't have been expecting.

First off, the volume of the sound was a lot louder than I anticipated. Even with the ear protection, I was initially finding myself flinching every time someone in another lane fired their weapon - especially with the higher caliber guns. After a while I got used to it, but at first it was quite jarring.

Secondly, I was surprised by how nervous I actually was just holding the gun. Not that one is supposed to be so casual with a gun that they take it for granted, but my hands were visibly shaking at first. Again, after a while I got more comfortable with it and was no longer shaking, but as can be seen by my first first target shooting (only 8 yards away), I was initially all over the place. One shot almost missed the target completely (look at the right edge of the target for a small tear).

For a reference point, the outmost circle on the target is 8.5 inches in diameter. The black area of the target is 3 inches in diameter.

This next picture shows my third attempt. I was getting a bit better, but still there was the occasional wild shot (look in the upper left corner, for example). Also, I moved the target a bit closer - down to 6 yards. A hadn't brought my eye glasses and at 8 yards I was squinting trying to see where my shots were hitting.

This target was probably my best for accuracy, but in this case it was even closer - only 5 yards away.

All told, I fired 100 rounds - 10 sets of 10. It was interesting to compare the results of each successive set and see improvements and trends of how I tended to be off-target. I'm left handed and I tended to find my shots going off to the left frequently. One of the instructors at the range explained that if you squeeze the trigger too hard, you'll find your shots going off in the direction of your primary hand. So, I guess I was doing that.

The gun I was using was a Ruger rimfire .22 caliber pistol. I think it was the Ruger Mark III™ but I'm not certain.