Unfortunately I spend most of the weekend under-the-weather, and while I felt a bit better yesterday afternoon I felt bad again this morning and decided to stay home from work. Hopefully I’ll be up to going in tomorrow.

The good news though was that I felt good enough (just barely) yesterday afternoon to participate in Blue Ridge Arsenal‘s introduction class for pistols. Melissa and I spent roughly three hours in the classroom learning about gun safety and the basic functions of revolvers and semi-automatic handguns, complete with practice loading, ‘dry firing’ (shooting real guns with no bullets), and unloading both main types of handguns. Then we spent about an hour on the range actually firing various common handguns (from .22s all the way up to .45s).

It wasn’t nearly as difficult as I had expected. Using just the very basic techniques taught in the class, I was able to maintain a fairly tight spread at the middle of the targets (7 meters out) with all the guns I tried. I’m no expert, but I’m off to a good start. Melissa seemed to be doing just as well too.

I had never fired a ‘real’ gun before yesterday. I had some isolated opportunities to try BB-guns when I was in Boy Scouts, and Melissa’s dad let me try out an air pistol last time we visited. The .22s had only slightly more kick than an air gun, and they’re not considered serious weapons for anything more than practice. The ‘real’ guns, especially when you get up to .40 and .45 caliber, had a whole heck of a lot more kick to them.

Melissa and I both preferred the .38 Special (revolver round) and 9mm (semi-automatic), which is about what I figured from my research before we went in and actually tried it. These are considered to be sufficient for personal protection, but don’t have a whole lot of recoil and are pretty easy to control. For a ‘family’ gun, we’ll probably end up with a .38 Special revolver since they are notoriously reliable and easy to use, and clearing misfires in an emergency generally involves pulling the trigger again ;-). We’ll probably go back to the range and try a few out (they do rentals) and buy one before too long to keep at home.

If I end up going for a Concealed Carry permit (which would be further off), I’d likely end up carrying a 9mm simply because sub-compact semi-automatics are usually smaller than a comparable sub-compact revolver. I have plenty of time to think about that though!

Regardless, we had a ton of fun. I’m quite glad that my cold pulled-back and gave me a good afternoon of feeling okay—though still not great—since I was really looking forward to this and would have hated to miss it.