Wednesday, June 22, 2011

When the tribulation comes, I want to know how to shoot.

Gun Range, No Rapture

Well, the Rapture didn’t happen, but it did get me thinking about firearms. When the tribulation comes, I want to know how to shoot.

Marc Halcon, owner of American Shooting Center in Kearny Mesa (858-279-7233;, assured me that gender would not be an issue in gun training.

“The ratio of entry-level shooters is generally 50/50, male to female.” What are some of the reasons women attend? “What we hear is, ‘I want to be able to protect my home, myself, and my children.’ Or, ‘My husband or boyfriend has firearms, and I just want to be more comfortable with them.’ Or, ‘This is kind of empowering.’”

Halcon told me that their entry-level training course “covers the basic laws regarding guns and the fundamental mechanics of how a gun works. We also go over the differences between various types of firearms, and there’s some time spent shooting on the range. It takes four or five hours, and we provide the gun, the ammunition, and the safety gear. Class size is usually around seven people, and there are two instructors, so you get a lot of one-on-one instruction. The cost is $150.”

Students are allowed to bring their own guns, but Halcon prefers that you choose from their selection. “We can tailor the instruction to fit your needs, depending on your weapon, but we like people to be open-minded enough to consider whether or not a particular gun is the right fit for them. Maybe the recoil isn’t right for you, maybe there’s something else. We have about 50 gun models to choose from, lots of different styles and calibers.”

After you’ve taken the entry-level course, Halcon suggests that you return to practice. “It’s $15 a visit. You can bring your own gun and ammunition or rent them from us. The range is indoors and 25 yards long — though the targets can be moved closer for beginners.”

Halcon added, “About 25 percent of students move up to the level-two course. That’s where you get into things like using a holster, shooting at multiple targets, shooting while on the move, reloading quickly, and clearing malfunctions. Cost is $250 for the two-day course.”

Sarah at Project 2000 Shooting Range in El Cajon (619-442-9971; said that the majority of students in their First Steps pistol class (three hours, $85) are women. “Often we get customers who come in who say, ‘This is my husband’s gun; I don’t know what it shoots or how to shoot it.’ We need to take care of you. The First Steps class starts with an overview of the gun — the caliber of bullet it shoots, things like that. You’re shown the proper way to hold the gun to maintain complete control. You learn how to clear jams and general safety precautions. Then you go to the range and do some live firing. We provide .22-caliber semiautomatic pistols for the class; they don’t have any kick, so they’re good for beginners. If you’re going to bring your own pistol, you need to bring your own ammunition.”

Once you’ve completed the First Steps class, you can move on to individual Skillbuilders classes (two hours each, $40). “The classes focus on a different skill each month. One month may be shooting and running, another may be shooting under duress. In that case, the instructors would cause you duress by yelling at you and using blinking lights while you shoot. For Skillbuilders, you need your own gun, your own ammunition, and your own safety gear.”

Project 2000, said Sarah, “is the largest indoor range on the West Coast. We have a designated pistol range that runs 25 yards, a rifle range that runs to 100 yards, and a shotgun range. And we have outdoor ranges where you can shoot clay discs. It’s $14 an hour for the first shooter and $10 an hour for each additional shooter. If you want to come in with a friend and you’ve never done this before, we always have someone on staff who will go out on the range with you, explain the gun, and help you.”

Janell at Discount Gun Mart in Santee (619-596-4099, said that their Home Firearms Safety Course (four hours, $95) covers “general safety rules, firearm terminology, and the laws regarding possession, storage, and transportation of firearms. The fee includes firearm, safety gear, and target, but not ammunition.”

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