(GunDiva note: this was written by a student in our Basic Pistol class. I've been doing this long enough to know that I'll get some hate about her wanting a .22 for self-defense. A .22 that she can shoot well and confidently is better than no gun at all. My first carry gun was a Beretta Bobcat in .25 cal; as I got more confident, I moved up in caliber. If you can't say something nice in the comments, don't say anything at all. We're about welcoming and empowering students of all levels, not scaring them off.)
So there I was in February 2020, minding my own business, letting the cobwebs grow on my Glock 45 9 mm. I’d had a conceal carry permit in 2014, never used it and stopped going to the gun range to shoot. This is what GunDiva refers to as a “perishable skill.” Oh, it perished all right. If a thief had broken into my home in the last six years, I would have grabbed my Glock and thrown it carefully at his head before begging for my life.
This is not the life I aspire to.
Then the so-called pandemic hit. Then the shutdown of entire states happened, along with businesses closing, people losing jobs, losing homes, losing money. This tends to make humans a tiny bit irritable. People started wearing masks everywhere. I couldn’t tell if they were smiling or getting ready to bite me. Riots happened. People were killed. Police politely suggested we might want to know how to defend ourselves.
So, I visited Rocky Mountain Shooters Supply and traded my Glock for a Smith and Wesson: M&P 9 Shield EZ (I had to go look that up just now). And since I didn’t want to protect myself by throwing my M&P at a burglar’s head, I signed up for Double Tap’s Basic Handgun tactics class.
There were 11 of us in a room all day learning basic handgun tactics. What could possibly go wrong? Well, nothing actually, but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t prepared for an errant bullet or blood spatter by lunch. Before going to class I inventoried what gun paraphernalia I actually owned: holster, head phones, a couple of magazines, bullets, shell casings (???), 2 different gun cleaning sets which were also gathering dust.
I sat up front in class as we went over gun safety, the NRA golden rules and watched a video of a cop shooting himself in the foot. (Ha! errant bullet!). We learned the difference between revolver and single action and double action semi-automatics (cylinder vs. magazine), we went over ammunition (powder charge, primer, bullet, case) and how 9mm ammo is hard to get right now due to panic buying. I imagined buying a reloader and setting up my backyard studio shed as a reloading operation. I could pass pleasant afternoons listening to gun podcasts and making bullets. There are worse ways to spend your day. (“Are there though?” asked a friend).
I learned the difference between bullets that penetrate and those that expand. (Full metal jacket vs. hollow point). I scribbled a note to myself: build my own gun. Reader, I’m nothing if not ambitious. I learned that while I own a holster, a belly band for conceal carry might be more appropriate for me. And DON’T GET AN ANKLE HOLSTER! It’s the slowest, worst draw. We discussed the OODA Loop when responding to a threat. I know you know all about that. Who doesn’t know about the OODA Loop? (“Like loop the loop what airplanes do?” asked a friend. No. Not like that.)
It was disheartening to discover there are more than 20,000 laws relating to firearms. If you can’t prove the attacker had ability, opportunity and intent to harm you, you could end up in jail for defending yourself. I imagined myself in the prison crafts center, chatting with other felons about how we had shot someone in self-defense and ended up sharing a cell with an inmate named Bertha. We’d rail against the system, exchange lawyer’s names, I’d tell them about my backyard reloading operation and then we’d go stand in line for our institutional dinner. If I spent as much time speaking to my neighbors as I do practicing imaginary conversations in prison craft centers, I’d have more friends. Obviously.
A simulator was used in the afternoon. These are video simulations that we could participate in and practice how we’d react in a real time scenario. The first one involved a bank robbery where the criminal shot the teller in the head. (Ha! Blood spatter!) Classmates successfully shot the bad guys which was comforting. And the last exercise of the day was to shoot different guns at the gun range. I discovered that I loved the .22 I shot and was good at it and hated the larger guns, including the revolver. I plan on using my M&P for home defense and buying a .22 for conceal carry. And to go to the gun range faithfully, several times a month.
And that, dear reader, is how a woman and her unused Glock joined the shooting community in Colorado. You might be too young to remember this, but there once was a time when nobody used the word “pandemic” and masks were only used by surgeons in hospitals.
I know. Right?
(Deborah Coyote is a local psychotherapist who lives with her rescue dog and her albino parakeet who has an excellent vocabulary. Her parakeet’s favorite mimicked phrase is: “Oooops! Sorry!” ergo the need to take gun safety training.)