The Art of Shooting

Ever since I’ve been in the mystery business, I’ve been curious about guns. The Mystery Shop does not use guns in our shows, but I read mystery novels and watch tons of TV shows that involve police procedures, etc. Guns are everywhere.

I had the opportunity recently to participate in a class called “Basics of Pistol Shooting” sponsored by the National Rifle Association (commonly referred to as the NRA). It consisted of two four-hour classroom sessions, plus time at the shooting range.

The Basic Pistol Shooting course teaches the basic knowledge, skills and attitude for owning and operating a pistol safely. This is a standalone course and qualifies for the first eight hours of the Illinois Concealed Carry Certificate.

The instructor was Kevin Swan, the owner of The Art of Shooting ( His office is in Hanover Park, Illinois.




Of course, we learned Safety First with these basic rules:

Always keep your gun in a safe direction

Always keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot

Always keep your gun unloaded until ready to shoot

We learned about pistol parts and how they work (specifically revolvers and semi-automatics) and ammunition fundamentals (bullet, case, powder and primer).

We learned shooting skills, including:

Hand and eye dominance

Two handed grip

Aiming, which involves both the proper relationship between the front and rear sights (sight alignment) and the proper relationship of the aligned sights with the       target (sight picture).

Breath control

Hold control

Trigger control


While in the classroom, we shot laser guns at a target 20 feet away. The laser didn’t have live rounds, but the gun was the same size and weight of the “real” things.

We took a quiz, as required by the NRA for certification. I got 6 wrong out of 50 questions (not too bad).

After the eight hours of classroom training, we went to the shooting range on a separate night:  Article 2 in Lombard:  ( It’s also a gun store. Quite an experience.Pistol class

I went with another women in the class.  Kevin (our instructor) brought everything we needed: ear protectors, the guns, ammo, targets, etc.  The man has the patience of a saint.  He just calmly kept repeating the instructions and correcting the same mistakes over and over.


Pistol class


He had us shoot with five different .22’s: four semi-automatics and a revolver.  He said I did good with the revolver and “my gun” as he put it (the one I did the best with) is a Smith & Wesson m&p 22 compact. I have no idea what that means, but it sounds good, doesn’t it?



After we both qualified, he had us shoot some other guns, just to get the feel for them, including a .38 special and a 9 mm.

Pistol class

He told us to wash our hands as soon as we were finished shooting, and to take a shower as soon as we got home. He said our bodies, hair, clothes, etc. were full of gun shot residue (GSR). I never would have thought of that.


He took pictures of us with our targets. He suggested we NOT post them on Facebook, because the anti-gun people could be quite vicious. I’m going to ignore that bit of advice and see what happens.

So, it was on my “bucket list” to shoot a gun. And now I’ve done it and I did it the right and safe way. And I loved it!

Pistol class






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