Saturday, December 30, 2006

The XD40's first day at the range

Thanks to my wonderful new job, my office was dismissed from work early to go prepare for the New Years weekend. So, I had some extra time to kill and some money saved up, so I thought to myself, why not go shooting? I haven't broken my new handgun in yet and I have 200 rounds of target ammunition just sitting there. So, I ask my dad if he wants to go shooting with me. The next thing I know he's ready to head out to the range. We went to Bullet Express, a local range. The adjoining gun store is where I purchased my XD and the staff at the place is good at taking care of their customers.

For those of you who aren't experienced shooters, let me give you the things I've learned over the years as a non-gun owning (and very infrequent) shooter. Shooting at an indoor range is a bit more equipment intensive than just going out and blazing away at a target. You should have a range kit of some kind. It's a collection of basic safety items and accessories that make your time at the range easier.

So, what does my range kit currently consist of?

1 pair of safety glasses
1 pair of full-size (70s-headphone style) ear protectors
1 baseball cap since I shoot left-handed and would like to not get a face full of hot brass.
1 HKS loading tool for loading magazines quickly and easily

And for right now, that will do. As I go more often, I might add a small first aid kit in case of something like getting cut by the slide or something similar. I'll probably also pack a small flashlight of some kind since indoor ranges can be a little dark at times. I'm sure I'll think of a few other small and useful items as time goes on.

So, with my range kit ready, Dad and I are off to try out this new gun, and I'm out to see how bad my shooting skills have deteriorated over the years. While at the range, I grab some small bullseye targets as opposed to the human silhouette targets. My current concern is making every shot count in a very small area as opposed to a very large area like a burglar or other assorted ne'er-do-well. I put the targets out to 7 yards, take aim, get my sight picture and fire.

As for hitting small targets, I currently am not so good. As for hitting large targets like people, I'm not too shabby. I didn't notice until I took the targets down that there was a human silhouette on the other side. The silhouette was rather perforated. This is all well and good, but the perfectionist in me isn't going to be happy until I can get every shot inside the high-visibility sections of the target. Then I'll feel better about it. Dad also got a chance to fire a few rounds through it and naturally he lands all his shots in the hi-vis sections. He's had 20 years as a police officer and nearly five years as a CCW-permit holder (Illinois currently allows only retired police officers to carry concealed handguns if they qualify yearly) so he's gotten plenty more experience in handgun training than I have. He seemed pretty impressed by it, so I'm sure he'll come along for another few rounds of shooting with this gun. The next time we go, I'll see to it that he brings his guns, too. I've been wanting to fire them since he first got them many years ago.

Hopefully I'll figure out what I'm doing wrong, too. I don't know if it's my stance or grip on the gun, or if it's a sighting problem. I'll figure it out with more practice and then I'll be back on my way to being a decent shot again. Now that I've found a source of inexpensive brass-cased ammunition I won't worry so much about the cost of training.

And naturally, the day ended with cleaning the gun to ensure that it will be ready for firing the next time I take it to the range.

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