I bought my first pistol, a Gen 2 Glock 17, from a pawn shop in a small town in Alabama in the fall of 1992. It was the only Glock in town, and when I went to pick it up, I asked the owner if he had any 9mm ammo, too. He managed to scrape together 42 rounds of various weights and bullet types, and threw them in, gratis, with a couple of targets. He then showed me all that he knew about the Glock design, including how to field strip it, how to load it, and how to shoot it safely. And I left that shop a very proud gun newby, off to the range.
I was very fortunate that the town I lived in had an awesome outdoor range, one that I have only been able to fully appreciate as I have moved around the country and lived in areas without good public outdoor shooting ranges. Basically, the town had built a new sewer treatment plant, and taken all the excavated dirt up the road about a mile, and built a 10 foot tall 3-sided berm, 100 yards across, and 100 yards deep. The front 50 yards was all crushed gravel, and the last 50 yards was nice grass, planted by the local Boy Scout troop as an Eagle Scout project. That Eagle Scout project also included five covered rifle shooting benches, two large covered pistol bays, and a chain link fence all the way around.
I drove to the range with my new pistol, 42 rounds of ammo, and a target. When I pulled up, I noticed a police car there. Two uniformed police were shooting silhouette targets. Great. I was nervous enough about shooting for the first time, much less with cops there.
I moved my stuff to one of the pistol bays, and made busy while I watched the cops shoot for a while. Soon, they seemed to be finished, and started packing up to leave, so I went to put out a target.
Once of the cops noticed me and called out, and I waved, and he asked, “Hey, what have you got there?” I told him it was my brand new Glock. He smiled and looked at the other cop, and pulled his own Glock out of his holster. “Like this one?” We chatted for a few minutes, long enough for them to find out just how little I knew about my new gun.
So, two experienced cops gave me my first and best hands on training. They showed me how to clean it, what to oil, and, best of all, how to shoot it. In 30 minutes they taught me a decent modified Weaver stance, how to use the sights, how to reload, how to clear malfunctions, and basically how to run the pistol. 42 rounds didn’t last long.
As we parted, one of the cops gave me some of my best advice, too. “When you feel comfortable enough with that thing, get a carry permit, and carry it. We can’t be there all the time.”
Good advice, good teaching, and a good beginning. I was hooked.