Introduction To The Handgun

By Melvin Ruth
Published on Aug 15th, 2010

I have recently taken a group of students through the basics of handling and firing handguns. Most of them had no experience with these destructive weapons. I realized the most important thing is to establish TRUST in the group. This allowed each person to feel comfortable and enjoy themselves while dealing with something new and dangerous. Developing trust allowed everyone to grow, learn, and have fun despite an uncomfortable new task.

An essential focus of the course was safety. There is no substitute for safety. Hand guns are short, compact deadly weapons with no concern for what the bullet hits when fired. Handguns are made for one thing and one thing only --- to KILL. The compact size of handguns makes them very easy to point improperly, turn around or just forget you have a weapon of destruction in your hands. Safety reminders were emphasized each class. The course went well, with mutual trust and a safe environment. Students were taught how to hand off and receive a weapon. They learned how to work the safeties, to clear the firearm when it jammed, and deal with double feeds.

We trained the basics. The value of reinforcing good basics, time spent on weapon handling (Safety), and trigger squeeze with an empty weapon was immeasurable. The students learned the push, pull technique to point the weapon at the target. Dominant hand pushes the weapon out towards target while the complementary hand pulls it back toward the torso. After working on the proper firing position, the students worked on breathing with trigger squeeze. The students were finally allowed to shoot the weapons with 2 rounds after plenty of dry fire exercises. Most students hit the targets from 25 feet the first time. As the WOW factor of the bullet firing (noise, concussion, etc.) finished, they became more comfortable firing. With more live firing experience, the students began to focus on hitting the targets and not the weapon's recoil.

Aiming came next. The first lesson was to sight shoot. Sight shooting is for target accuracy and when time allows one to aim and use the sights of the weapon. The second method trained was point shooting. This is when you use your body or base to align the weapon and fire. I prefer this method personally; I've found it better for combat shooting. Point shooting is best when time or environment does not allow you to use your sights. Point shooting can be just as effective as sight shooting with a little practice. The students were later introduced to shooting with both eyes open and how to train the brain to distinguish what they see. When a person closes one eye to aim, they loose 50% of their field of view. When most people shoot they close their complimentary eye for focus. When students first open the other eye, the target appears to shift or one will see double. Full field of vision and point shooting trains the shooter s brain to take in the entire combat arena. Students use their dominate eye to get on target then open the complimentary eye. After some time, your brain will recognize what it is seeing and not be tricked by the illusion of what you see down the gun barrel.

After everything else, was plenty of live firing. From my Military experiences I've learned, there is no substitute for live firing. The shooters trained different firing positions; walking towards the target while firing, firing from various disadvantaged postures, and using their complimentary hand to fire. The course spanned six weeks. We met one night a week. Total time was 10 hours. Students fired over 1,100 rounds. Finally, students qualified with the average of 17 out of 20 hits from 28 feet into a 1 square foot target. Everyone mentioned how much fun they had during the course. Having fun equals internalizing the lessons and remembering the experience. This positive association will be indispensable, if it's ever necessary to use these skills.

They all did well and learned a lot. They now have a more accurate perception of what it takes to shoot a handgun. It's not like TV! The martial artists in the group have a better understanding of why their gun defense techniques were designed at contact penetration/manipulation stage. The students are now able to use a semi automatic and revolver handgun, if they ever choose to shoot again. I had a great time teaching the course, training the basics, and watching everyone grow. Students became very comfortable, confident and deadly accurate.

Filed under Instructors and Teaching

Author Bio :: Melvin Ruth

Melvin Ruth started boxing for the Highland Exchange Club in 1986. He began his formal study of Korean Martial Arts in 1988, Tae Kwon Do in Baltimore County. By 1994, Melvin joined the U.S. Army and National Guard serving honorably through 2004. After returning from various military missions, Melvin began training in Kenpo Karate in 1997. Mr. Ruth received his black belt certification in Kenpo Karate in 2003. Melvin began working with Kenpo 2000 while pursuing his black belt. He is currently refining his Kenpo as a student of Professor Skip Hancock. Mr. Ruth is a partner in M&D's Modern Martial Arts of Bishopville, MD The studio is affiliated with TheMALC and Kenpo 2000. Melvin is the Director of Infrastructure for The Martial Arts Learning Community, Inc. (TheMALC).

Other Articles by Melvin Ruth

Are you a martial artist and have advice or experiences you want to share? If so, contact our editorial team about becoming an author. Be part of our community, contribute an article.