From Wednesday's Shooting Wire by Rich:
"Meanwhile, I saw a posting from an instructor who found he had an armorer course student who'd never
touched, fired, carried a firearm before. The questions that the student raised made the instructor think he was being trolled. It became apparent that this student was "newest of the new" and decided to start in the firearms lifestyle by learning about the pistol in-depth."
What a great story, and the sign of someone approaching firearms ownership from the right way, learning how a tool works, in this case a firearm, before buying one and "headin' out to the range to check that baby out." All tools require an education and experience to use properly; some, such as firearms, more so than others. It doesn't matter what the tool is, knowing what it's supposed to do and how it functions will accelerate your learning process.
You can own a car, drive it and when necessary drop it off at the shop to have all the necessary maintenance and repairs performed to keep it running. But, talk to a serious car guy, or gal, and they'll tell you that keeping it running, performing all the work themselves, is a part of ownership. Through this process they "learn" the ways of the car, and if something is just a little bit off they know it immediately and fix it. They also learn what their vehicle can do and most importantly the skills to drive it to its capabilities.
The same should be true for "shooters." Most of the readers here know how their weapon works and can strip it down for cleaning. A lot of you can completely disassemble them, replacing parts if needed. And some readers can build or make whatever they dream or desire. On the other hand, based on my experience, the majority of gun "owners" usually don't even know how to break their weapon down for cleaning, much less how to identify a problem and whether it's something they can repair/replace or if it needs to go to a gunsmith.
Ownership of a firearm means you know how it works, what it's capable of, and have the ability to maintain it. Nobody is born with this knowledge; we all start from the same square. And not all shooters need to know every aspect of their weapon, such as the exact composition of the metal in your barrel or the have the ability and equipment to do custom 'smithing. Somewhere in the middle ground is where most of us need to be. Not enough knowledge, and yes, you can shoot it but when something isn't working properly will you know it? For example, what direction should your AR eject brass? Ideally it should be hitting the ground at about a four-o'clock position from the shooter. When the brass it landing at a two-o'clock location what does this mean? Usually it's time to replace the ejector spring.
We offer an AR Familiarization class, which is about four hours in the classroom explaining how the AR functions and what each part does. Students break their AR's down, removing and replacing the internals and learn how to clean and lube them. It's not an armorer's class, but it does teach new owners how the AR works, and the ability to maintain and service it. Students normally attend this class the night before the regular range instruction. Once on the range they understand how the weapon functions, and what they must do in order to operate it safely and efficiently. With this knowledge they are able to focus on their skills as opposed to trying to figure out how the weapon works and keep up with the instruction. As instructors it makes our job a lot easier, and usually we discover a problem prior to hitting the range, saving us time having to make field repairs. It's a win-win.
For those of you who are weapons savvy make it a point to educate one of your less knowledgeable brothers or sisters. If you own a weapon and don't truly know it find someone who does and ask them to "school you." For those of you who know a little, learn more. The better you understand your weapon the safer and more efficient you'll operate it, regardless of the application.
Tiger McKee is director of Shootrite Firearms Academy, located in northern Alabama. He is the author of "The Book of Two Guns" - http://shootrite.org/book/book.html writes for several firearms/tactical publications, and is featured on GunTalk's DVD, "Fighting With The 1911 - http://shootrite.org/dvd/dvd.html Website: www.shootrite.org