University Offers Class on Competitive Shooting

By Brian Duncan Johnson

Students on the Range, competitive shooting class
University offers Class on Competitive Shooting
AmmoLand Gun News
AmmoLand Gun News

Fairfax , VA -(Ammoland) – George Mason University students returned to their fall semesters two weeks ago.

For a small group of students who were fortunate and smart enough to enroll in the Basic Pistol Marksmanship class offered by the university, stress and a lack of fun will not be a worry this semester.

Once a week students convene at the Arlington-Fairfax chapter of Izaak Walton League, located  in Centreville, Virginia.  

According to instructor Bennett Crandall students will learn these main points by the end of this course:

  • Common sense firearms safety
  • Ability to handle any handgun safely in various environments
  • Appropriate techniques for range safety
  • Ability to identify and describe handgun parts and mechanical functions.
  • Ability to self-diagnose and correct problems/barriers to becoming a proficient basic pistol shooter.
  • Working knowledge of Virgina state firearms regulations
  • Fundamentals of Bullseye (Bulls-eye) handgun marksmanship in all 3 disciplines  (Slow, Timed & Rapid Fire)
  • Fundamentals of target shooting:proper stance, sight alignment, and trigger control

Students will also be given the option of taking the written exam in order to receive the NRA basic pistol safety certificate.

The first week of class was entirely devoted to the safe handling and knowledge of mechanical aspects of a firearm. This  also includes  learning the proper terms used in competitive shooting.  Most inexperienced shooters defer to vocabulary they hear on television or in movies.  The classic example, is “clip” rather than saying, “magazine”.  Experienced shooters cringe at the utterance of these phrases which have taken hold in general public through ignorance in operating firearms.

This class also explained the distinguishing features between single-action and double-action revolvers as well as semiautomatic pistols. Not only did we discuss the differences in loading, unloading and firing, but we also learned the proper method for ensuring the chamber is cleared before and after use. Along with ensuring the gun is properly unloaded students also learned the difference in calibers that can be used in pistols.  Although our class will strictly be using .22LR we reviewed the differences between rimfire and centerfire, the relation of calibers to bore width, and the effect of barreling has on a bullet.

All of these lessons are the most basic lessons to firing any type of firearm, and for those who have shot before it might even seem monotonous.  But, like everyone we all start from somewhere, and with shooting the safest and best way to learn is all the way from the beginning. This top to bottom approach is timely but is absolutely necessary, for that reason it would take until the second week of class (this past Monday) for the students to have the chance to touch the firearms let alone shoot them.

The key to this separations is obviously to promote and teach the safe handling and operation of firearms.  Not only is this important for the individual student but for our fellow shooters on the line.  In order to drive home the importance of safety at the range the class recites the NRA’s three basic gun safety rules:

Student's repeat these three rules each day of class before shooting.
Student’s repeat these three rules each day of class before shooting.

Along with safe handling techniques, the class on the first day learned something that already has changed my techniques for shooting.  Before the first class I always assumed my right eye was dominant, in line with my shooting hand.  But, after performing the dominant eye test I learned the unfortunate truth that my left eye is in fact my dominant eye.  This realization was shocking after nearly 4 years of shooting to learn that my natural instincts were actually not entirely accurate to proper competition form. Along with my new found handicap of being a left-eye, right-handed shooter we also have to keep both eyes open.  Again ever since I shot my first firearm closing one eye just made more sense.

With any luck and plenty of practice, this semester will improve my shooting skills especially considering my newly learned stance and grip which will have to be adjusted from what I am accustomed too.  This past Monday we shot our first fifteen shots after a brief review of safety steps and a hands on lesson in loading and unloading weapons with dummy cartridges.  My score on the first day was a 103 of 150, far from marksmanship, but all my shots found paper. For the basics that’s a good start.

About: Brian Duncan Johnson is a fourth year student at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia focusing studies on History and Government. Duncan is a regular contributor to Ammoland and often assist in the everyday gun news publishing as an assistant editor.

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Great article. My son is interesting in participating on a competitive pistol team in college. How can we determine which colleges have a pistol team? Thanks