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I had never fired a handgun before this class, unless you count the cowboy style cap gun I played with as a little girl. Give me a shotgun, muzzleloader, something with a long stock and barrel that I can hunt with and you have my attention, but handguns never interested me. Then, someone I know, who didn’t own a gun, had very little experience with guns and is a vegetarian at that, took a CCW class. She attended the class to express her rights, but came away more knowledgeable about guns and safe shooting practices. Her experience caught my attention and I wanted to learn more about handguns and carrying concealed.
Taking The Course:
I attended the same NRA course she had with the same instructor, a young guy in his late 20’s. This would be a 2-day course. To obtain your CCW permit in Ohio, you must attend a CCW Class taught by an NRA Certified Instructor where you will receive 12-hours of certified training. 10 of those hours are spent in the classroom learning the following –
• The ability to name, explain, and demonstrate the rules for safe
handling of a handgun and proper storage practices for handguns
• The ability to demonstrate and explain how to handle ammunition
in a safe manner.
• The ability to demonstrate the knowledge, skills, and attitude
necessary to shoot a handgun in a safe manner.
• Gun-handling training.
The remaining 2-hours are spent on the range. You will be required to safely handle and shoot a handgun at six separate targets while learning practical training and gaining live fire experience.
We started the course at 8am on a Saturday morning. We were instructed to being a pencil and paper for taking notes with, eye and ear protection and any snacks or drinks to hold us through the day. It was a small class of five people consisting of me, two other women, and two men. Some brought their own gun to use for the course and they all had experience shooting handguns, everyone but me. For this course I would use a .22 that the instructor lent me. The instructor had various handguns set up for us to see, revolvers, semi-autos, he had a table full and I had virtually no clue about any of them. The instructor asked why we were here today; everyone’s response was for personal protection. No shooting would be done today, day one was set aside for covering every page of the Ohio Concealed Carry Publication. A copy of this publication can be found online at http://www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov/ConcealedCarry
I admit, I was very bored. We read every page of the manual word for word and were educated on all the current laws pertaining to Ohio's Concealed Carry. This manual is updated every time a law change takes place and it is your responsibility to keep up to date with the changing laws.
Tanner reading every word
We were able to hold and examine the handguns that the instructor had and I enjoyed finally getting a feel for a handgun. We wrapped the day up at 2pm and were sent home with a packet from the NRA that included several booklets about handguns, holsters, safety, and various shooting sports.
Day 2 started at 8am on Sunday and was far more interesting. We covered how to hold, aim, and shoot a handgun. Different types of handguns on the market. The variety of holster styles that are available, how to transport your weapon, ammunition, misfires, cleaning your handgun and more. Today we would also get to shoot, needless to say, I was excited for that part after learning all that I had. Before heading to the range we were given a six page, 50 question test that we needed to pass first. The entire class passed, I had missed one question, and before long we all were walking down to the range.
It was a great day to be out shooting, cool and cloudy with very little wind. The instructor had set up a plywood wall with a thick dirt mound backstop. He affixed six paper plate targets in two rows of three for each of us to take turns at. I order to pass our shooting test we would need to place six single shots into each of the top three targets and then six continuous shots into the bottom three targets while standing approximately 15-feet away. All total we would need to place 36 shots into the targets, if we missed any, we would have to re-shoot that target.
I watched as three people went ahead of me and completed their 36 shots, only one of them had to re-shoot a target. As I stepped up to take my turn the instructor informed me to load a single shot into the gun. I was so nervous, I had no idea how to load a live round into the magazine. He showed me how to load the .22 of his that I was borrowing and I was ready to fire. My nerves still had the best of me and there was still one big thing that I was worried about - How bad does a handgun snap? I know what a kick from a 20gauge feels like to the shoulder, but what about this little gun? With only one way to find out, I pulled the trigger.
I couldn't contain my smile. The bullet put a small black hole through the target and I felt virtually no snap. I could have stood there all day firing that little .22, but before long my 36 shots were up. I had put all of them on the targets and my last six shots were all placed within a 1 1/2" circle. I was so happy I asked the instructor if I could keep the paper targets as proof of my marksmanship.
After the shooting test we were given our certification paper as proof of our class completion and our class time was over.
Applying For Your License:
Each county in Ohio has a different application process for people applying for their CCW permit. Every county has to except applications at least 15-hours a week, and when I was applying for mine I found out that some require you to make an appointment, while others take walk-ins. Any person applying for a permit must fill out a State of Ohio License To Carry A Concealed Handgun application and bring it with them to their local Sheriffs Office along with a $67, or more, fee, have a copy of their training certificate, state ID or Drivers License, and have a passport photo. You will be fingerprinted and have your picture taken and then you must wait for your background check to clear before you obtain your permit. The Sheriffs Office will call you when your permit is ready to be picked up. It was nearly a month before mine was ready to be picked up, but times very depending on the number of applicants. The permit looks similar to your drivers license and is good for five years. Another fee must be paid to renew after the five years is up.
Choosing A Gun To Carry:
I found choosing a gun to carry as the most difficult part of carrying concealed. Number one, you want something that you're comfortable with and can shoot well. Your life could depend on this gun one day so you must like the gun and practice with it often. You'll find two main types of handguns, Semi-automatic and Revolver. Each has a long list of pros and cons that you should consider before purchasing. If possible, shoot a gun before you buy it. Borrow one from a friend, rent one from a range or visit a store that allows you to try before you buy. If shooting a particular gun isn't possible, read up on the model you think you want, then visit your local gun shop and ask to hold the gun. For me, holding a gun in my hand was a big deciding factor when I purchased my handgun because I wasn't able to shoot one before I bought it. Another thing to think about is the cost of ammunition, prices vary depending on calibers, brand and other factors, so choose something that you can afford to shoot. Different models also vary in how many rounds they carry, so consider how many shots each can shoot and how fast. You also want something that you can easily conceal, so size should is another option to consider along with the guns weight.
Youtube is also a very nice website to research guns at. In Youtube's search, simply type in what gun you're interesting in knowing more about and several videos should come up. Many people do video reviews of guns and will show you how to field strip a particular model, live firing, comparing to similar models, and any pros and cons that they found. This step is definitely worth your time.
I encourage anyone wanting to learn more about handguns and carrying concealed, to take a CCW class. I came away from the course with a passion for another shooting sport, knowledge about guns and how to protect myself should the need arise. No more cap guns for me, just the real thing now.
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