Idaho Pistol Essentials 101: Introduction to Pistol Safety, Operations, Shooting, and Maintenance

Image: Idaho Pistol Essentials Class 101 Logo

Idaho Pistol Essentials 101 introduces the most basic concepts of owning a pistol to the beginner student. This class is an introduction for the new pistol student to understand the bare essentials of pistol ownership. Safety is the primary focus of this course along with being a responsible gun owner who secures their firearm when not in use. This course satisfies the minimum requirements for the Idaho Concealed Carry Standard License for those not interested in the many benefits they will receive attending the Idaho Enhanced Concealed Carry Class.

(See our training calendar for times and locations near you.)

Safety First

Safety is always the primary concern when handling and storing a firearm. These two topics are mutually important and vital for the responsible Idaho gun owner to always follow depending on the circumstances.

When handling a firearm in Idaho, the following safe gun handling rules must always be observed:

  1. Keep the Firearm Pointed in a Safe Direction at all times. Some training academies will state the number one rule is to always treat the gun as if it is loaded. This is an obvious and unnecessary statement. By pointing the gun in a safe direction when you are handling it, you are treating it as if it is loaded.
  2. Keep Your Finger Off the trigger. Modern firearms, and even older ones really, will not discharge a bullet unless the firearm is prepared for firing and the trigger is pressed. By keeping your finger up high on the frame while handling a firearm there is no chance the firearm will discharge by itself. Even if it were to discharge, no one and nothing would get damaged because of rule number one.
  3. Always Keep the Firearm Unloaded. Your firearm does not need to be loaded if it is not in use. In fact, it is best practice to keep your ammunition stored in a separate safe away from your firearm so the two are never accessible at the same time. While there are times when the firearm should be loaded, such as when carrying for personal protection, the general rule of having it unloaded apply to most circumstances.

Keep Idaho Firearms Secure At All Times

Image: Various Gun Safes and Sizes

You hear it all the time, you see it in the NEWS almost every day – a mass shooting takes place. Blame the guns, take them away, it’s for everyone’s safety. The truth is, if we allow the government to take away our guns then only criminals will be armed. It is every gun owner’s responsibility to keep their guns secure. We must demonstrate a reasonable, responsible, and common sense approach to securing our firearms from theft and being used in a crime. This means we must keep them in a safe, locked, and secured location at all times.

(See our training calendar for times and locations near you.)


If it’s not on your person,

It’s in a safe.”


Types of Firearms Actions

Training starts with understanding the three common firearms available, their actions (how they behave), and how to load, shoot and maintain their firearms for a lifetime of enjoyment. The course is specifically designed for the gun owner who wants to have fun on the weekend and target practicing at the range.

The Double-Action Revolver

Pictured to the left is a Ruger Double-Action Revolver. Because of its short 2.5″ barrel, revolvers like these are oftentimes referred to as “snub-nosed” revolvers.

The Double-Action revolver is unique because it can be fired in two different ways. One method is similar to the Single-Action revolver where the hammer can be pulled back rearwards into a firing position. When pressed, the trigger releases the hammer causing the gun to fire.

The “action” refers to what happens when the trigger is pressed in a rearward fashion towards the handle. For the double-action revolver, the trigger performs two functions: Cocking and Releasing the hammer. Unlike the single-action revolver where the hammer must be placed into a firing position before pressing on the trigger for discharging, the double-action revolver will both cock and release the hammer in one smooth continuous motion. Because the trigger will both cock and fire the gun, it is appropriately called a “double-action” revolver.

(See our training calendar for times and locations near you.)

Loading, Cocking, Shooting, Decocking, and Unloading a Firearm

These are all processes involved when preparing, shooting, and emptying a firearm. As you can see, there are at least five different actions you must perform at any given time. Since there is such a wide variety of firearms, each gun that is brought to your Idaho Pistol Essentials Class will be demonstrated to the class and the owners. We will work with you on an individual basis to ensure you understand all the processes involved before you go to the range. As a general overview, here is a description of the steps:

  • Loading: Loading consists of placing cartridges into the holding area of the firearm prior to shooting. For revolvers, this involves placing the cartridges into the chambers of the cylinder. For semi-automatic pistols, you place the cartridges into the magazine.
  • Cocking: Cocking is preparing the gun to shoot. For single-action revolvers, the hammer is pulled back. For double-action revolvers, you press the trigger until the hammer drops. For semi-automatic pistols, you pull the slide and release one into the chamber.
  • Shooting: The process of shooting a firearm is relatively the same for all revolvers and pistols. At the press of the trigger, the hammer drops, and the bullet is discharged from the firearm.
  • Decocking: You can relate decocking to the opposite of cocking your firearm. When you decock, the firearm is essentially placed into a state where it can not fire. There are several ways of decocking depending on your firearm, which will be discussed in class.
  • Unloading: Unloading brings us full circle to the beginning when we loaded our firearm. In this case, we reverse the process of loading by removing cartridges from the revolver chambers and the magazines placing the ammunition in a locked and secure safe for the next time we plan to have some fun at the range.

(See our training calendar for times and locations near you.)

Ammunition Fundamentals

Image: Various Pistol Cartridges

Ammunition is not overly complicated for the average user, especially when they are considering options for target practice.

Self-defense ammunition can get a little more complicated but once you understand the basics it’s really very straightforward. We discuss ammunition options in-depth during the Idaho Pistol Essentials course.

Ammunition Essentials