Our Beginner Pistol Classes 101: Introduction to Pistol Safety, Operations, Shooting, and Maintenance

Image: Idaho Pistol Essentials Class 101 Logo

Beginner Pistol Classes 101 introduces basic pistol concepts to the beginner pistol 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 class along with being a responsible gun owner who secures their firearm when not in use.

This class meets the minimum pistol requirements for every state. It is not designed to meet concealed carry requirements but may in certain states.

This is a family-focused pistol class. We encourage you to bring your family members, neighbors, and those interested in understanding basic pistol concepts.

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.

Five Essential Gun Safety Rules:

  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 unnecessary statement. Pointing the gun in a safe direction is treating it as if it is loaded.
  2. Always Keep the Firearm Unloaded Until Ready to Use. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Know Your Target and Beyond: Whether you are at an indoor or outdoor range, it is very important to know what’s behind your target. Bullets can travel over a mile, others even more. It is your responsibility where that bullet impacts no matter the situation. Be sure to know your bullet will not hit an innocent person or someone’s property.
  5. No drugs, Alchohol, nor cannabis should be consumed before and during the handling of a firearm.

Keep Firearms Secured 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.

If it’s not on your person,

It’s in a safe.”

Types of Pistol Actions

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

The Semi-Automatic Pistol

Pictured to the left is a Sig Sauer P365 XL 9mm Tritium Night Sights w/Romeo Zero 3-MOA Red Dot Mounted Site.

Don’t let the fancy words and titles throw you off. There is a wide range of semi-automatic pistols that tote a wide variety of options and add-ons to customize their look, feel, and performance. Semi-automatic pistols are today’s most popular style chosen for an Idaho Concealed Carry Weapon.

The “action” refers to what happens when the trigger is pressed in a rearward fashion towards the handle (grip). Semi-automatic pistols come in all types of actions, sizes, and shapes.

Essentially, there is a moving component on the top of the pistol called a “slide”. The slide is responsible for cocking the hammer or striker pin after the gun is fired. During this process, it also allows the spent cartridge to leave the pistol while the magazine replaces it with a new one. When the slide returns to its original position, the trigger is reset to allow the pistol to be fired again. This is a very simplistic explanation of a semi-automatic firing process which will be covered in far more detail during class.

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

These are all processes involved when preparing, shooting, and emptying a pistol or revolver. 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 pistols and revolvers, each gun that is brought to your Beginner Pistol 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 pistol and revolver 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 pistol or revolver 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 pistol or revolver. 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 pistol or revolver. 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.

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 be 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

Understanding ammunition is an essential building block for any beginner pistol student. Like anything new, ammunition options can appear confusing at first because there’s so much ammunition available it’s hard to decide what to use. Our Basic Beginner Pistol Class covers ammunition in-depth to clear up the confusion and to help you make the right choice. Some ammunition considerations are:

.32 Ammunition

Browning introduced the .32 ACP caliber in 1899 for use as a small self-defense option.

Like many small ammunition calibers, it is designed to fit into a small handgun, primarily for pocket carry. Its low recoil makes it a popular option for the older generation while still being able to punch a pack.

The Five Fundamentals of Pistol Shooting

Essential to the beginner pistol shooter is a solid foundation of what is referred to as “The Five Fundamentals of Pistol Shooting”. Every instructor has a way of referencing them, some have their own special title for them, but every student will be taught these fundamentals at some point.

By leveraging our unique nationwide training experience, incorporating Modern Gun Training Techniques, and working closely with beginner pistol shooters, Level 1 Firearms Training LLC will have new pistol shooters shooting accurately in no time.

Hold Control

Benchrest Position

Hold Control is an extension of, and part of, aiming, sight alignment, and sight picture.

As you prepare for shooting, your sights are aligned, your breathing has paused momentarily, and your front sight is perfectly aligned with your rear sight. Nothing is moving. This is called hold control – the point when taking the shot should end up with a perfect hit.

There remain other factors to take into consideration such as a proper grip, a well-balanced stance, and a stable shooting platform that can still affect your shot placement. Level 1 Firearms Training LLC certified pistol instructors will work with these and other considerations to make sure you are ready for that perfect first shot.

Additional Opportunities for Pistol Shooting

Training Simulator

Now that you have learned how to shoot your pistol or revolver, it’s time to build on those shooting skills.

Using Modern Gun Training Techniques, our Pistol Class 102 “Shooting With Confidence” class will build on the previous lessons you learned in this class.

Shooting with Confidence” is focused entirely on improving your pistol shooting skills and developing skills for better shot placement while at the range.