By Bailie Wilson
Bryan/College Station isn’t exactly the Wild West, and I’m no Annie Oakley, but an eagerness to learn is the only prerequisite needed to pick up a gun and learn a few things about recreational shooting.
Just outside city limits, across the Navasota River, and down a dirt road, a gun range is situated on a remote piece of property belonging to concealed carry instructor Gene Schiller. Here is where the adventure began. I’m a Texas girl, so of course I’ve fired one or two shots at 4th of July celebrations or other family gatherings where shooting guns was as necessary as eating barbeque. But the truth is, I didn’t know the first thing about shooting correctly until I received some professional instruction.
“Say you want to learn how to play golf, and your neighbor plays golf five or six times a year,” says Schiller. “Are you going to let him teach you or go to the club house and learn from the pro? You want to learn the right habits from the beginning; otherwise those bad habits will follow you.” So of course, the first step to learning how to shoot is choosing the right instructor. Learn it right the first time, and it will serve you well later on.
When we arrived at the range, Schiller examined my hands and picked out a gun that would suit me, a pistol to be exact: a Glock 19. While he didn’t advocate for this gun, he did inform me that it is used by 60% of law enforcement, meaning it was likely to be safe and easy to use. Before the lesson began, he gave me the run-down.
First: safety rules. Then: hand placement, stance, and how to accurately aim at the target.
“Just remember, shooting is 90% mental, 8% skill, and 2% luck,” warns Schiller. That was the key. Shooting with both speed and accuracy takes mental strength above all. Don’t jerk or flinch. Remain calm and rely on what you know.
It can be quite intimidating to hold such a powerful tool in your hands, and nervousness is to be expected. “The worst thing that can happen is you miss the target,” says Schiller. He always gives encouragement in this way, especially to the young ladies and elderly who have become more frequent clients.
Once he deemed me ready to go, he let me take my first shot. I surprised myself, hitting within close proximity of the target—not bad for a beginner. Throughout the next couple hours, I learned more about shooting for speed, tips for keeping steady hands, and even how to shoot one handed. For novices such as me, learning the basics of shooting is as easy as following directions.