Fiction Based On A True Event From My Classes

 

I’ve always enjoyed guns and gun stuff. I admire the engineering, the craftsmanship, and even the small size and heft of a well made handgun. I’m no expert, I just enjoy them. I’m not afraid of them either. I’ve always exercised solid safety habits and as far as I know I’ve followed the rules. Yet, I’m no enthusiast and rarely frequent the range. As I get older and acknowledge I can’t fight or even run like I once could, the more I appreciate the new Illinois concealed carry law more and more. I’d been wanting to attend a concealed carry class but haven’t got around to it yet.

 

 

 

I’ve always enjoyed guns and gun stuff. I admire the engineering, the craftsmanship, and even the small size and heft of a well made handgun. I’m no expert, I just enjoy them. I’m not afraid of them either. I’ve always exercised solid safety habits and as far as I know I’ve followed the rules. Yet, I’m no enthusiast and rarely frequent the range. As I get older and acknowledge I can’t fight or even run like I once could, the more I appreciate the new Illinois concealed carry law more and more. I’d been wanting to attend a concealed carry class but haven’t got around to it yet.

 

 

 

For Christmas my girlfriend gave me a new pistol. What a great gift! Guns are almost always special gifts and this was no exception. I don’t know how to thank her enough. But I’m sure she’ll help me learn. I admired the finish and held and pointed it and squeezed the trigger a few times before putting it away in a safe place. I’m sure I’ll find a way to express my appreciation to her. I’d better.

 

Like I said before, I’m no gun enthusiast but that concealed carry permit has been on my list of things to do, so when my best friend suggested we find a class and apply for our permits I was all for it. Looking at the available classes and costs for the entire package I was a bit shocked by the total amount needed. Right about this time best friend said he received an advertisement from an instructor on his Facebook page and the prices were reasonable. The linked website looked good but I didn’t read much other than what it took to pick out a class date and register. Easy enough!

 

As the class date approached I kept meaning to take out my new pistol, clean it, and read the instruction book. I’ve never seen one like this before but it looks really nice and is small, exactly what I need for concealed carry. I guess, I’ve never carried concealed before but there can’t be much to it. You get a gun and carry it and if you need it you pull it out and shoot. Easy.

 

The night before the class I realized I hadn’t cleaned the pistol nor had I read the instruction book. I didn’t have time that night either, some friends and I were going out so I just set it aside with my other stuff for class so I wouldn’t forget it.

 

Wow, 08:30 sure comes early on a Saturday morning. Maybe the instructor thinks he’s still in the military. 16 hours! Who needs 16 hours of training to carry a concealed weapon? There’s really not that much to it right? I’m sure they could teach me all I need to know in a few hours.

 

The instructor greeted me when I walked into the classroom and asked my name. The coffee pot was full of freshly brewed coffee and there was lots of room at the tables where we were seated. I was about ten minutes early so I sipped my coffee and looked over the class handouts. Do I really need all this stuff?

 

Day One: At exactly 08:30 the instructor started a roster going around and asked us to fill out liability waivers in case we shot ourselves or maybe in case someone else shot us. Haha. Figure the odds of that happening. My friend and I joked about shooting each other. But we signed the forms and immediately the instructor starts in with the legal basis for the concealed carry laws. Do we really need to know that?

 

The first break hit me by surprise. The instructor had been talking for about 90 minutes and had shown us a few videos and shared a few stories related to the material. I’ll admit, I’d never through about the things he talked about but now I’m wondering what else I’ve not thought about. Man, this guy talks about safety all the time. Doesn’t he know we’re all adults and will always be safe? It’s almost as if he expects his students to make safety mistakes. Maybe someone will, but it won’t be me. I don’t make mistakes like that. Ever.

 

Day one was mostly about the laws, where we can carry, where we can’t carry, when to shoot, when not to shoot, how to safely avoid a shoot if possible, what to do after a shoot.. wow, so much material. The videos were all brief and related to the material and helped visualize and drive home certain points. Why was he going over safety stuff when we were only talking about the laws? Safety is mostly common sense, easy.

 

The instructor spent a lot of time going over the legal, ethical, and moral responsibilities of concealed carry. Much I’d never before considered like how I might feel if I took a life, even if justified. I really liked when after the gun handling demonstration we were encouraged to check out the different handguns the instructor brought to class. We could even shoot them for our qualification if we wanted. But I have my Christmas present, I’ll shoot it.

 

The day went fast. They served lunch and it was better than expected, and the class even agreed to go 30 minutes longer than we planned so the next day we could leave earlier than planned. My best friend and I drove home and talked about the class on the way. We learned a lot and covered material I’d never even thought about before today. Frankly I was surprised, I don’t know what I expected but I didn’t expect the day to go so fast or to learn all the new material he went over.

 

Day Two: I didn’t want to get out of bed but I did. While yesterday was all about the law, the instructor said today would be mostly about the guns. Getting some coffee I sat down and at exactly 08:30 the instructor starts in again. We spent time going over questions from the day before and then he reviewed the entire day, but it only took an hour. You could tell the really important parts of day one from what was covered in the review.

 

A lot of time was spent on marksmanship. There was a fun sight picture lesson, stance, grip, follow-up, we went through it all and many of the principals weren’t the way I previously learned. At first this bothered me, why should I shoot their way and not the way I’ve always done it? And then he explained he was only teaching us the modern refined versions of what we’ve always done and for our qualification test we could shoot any way we wanted. After that I relaxed and listened carefully, watched the demos, the videos, and everything started to make sense. I found myself really looking forward to the range so I could try some of this stuff.

 

Then he demonstrated how to take apart a Glock. Funny thing, the last part came out by accident and he didn’t know how to put it back. He used Youtube to find a demo on how to put the piece back and from there he had the gun together in just under a minute. Everything is about learning with this guy, I wonder if the need to use Youtube to find how to do something was planned, part of the lesson?

 

We went over safety yet again. What is it with this guy and safety? We’re not allowed to have personal guns or ammo in the classroom, he made us repeat the first four basic safety rules like ten times! Oh well, his holster was empty in the classroom, I saw it, so at least he practices what he preaches.

 

Finally we’re off to the range. The range is nice enough, nothing special but fine for our purposes. They built a roof in case it rains and a cement floor in case it’s muddy. There’s also a bench in front of you to put your guns and ammo while qualifying. There were three other range safety officers in addition to the instructor. My gosh, only six of us shot at a time. There was one RSO covering every two shooters. The instructor was floating back and forth watching everyone. I wonder what he expects to see. He’s already told us about past students who have made certain mistakes. No names, just the factual incident.

 

The first four safety rules are still in my mind, but I’m excited about the test. Did I mention I’m not an enthusiast? I might go the range once a year or every couple years.. I notice my hands start to tremble a bit as others shoot and I know my turn is nearing. I joke with my best friend, we’re going to qualify at the same time so we joke about shooting each others target.

 

Everyone qualifies so far, they seem to be having an easy time with the test. It looks easy. Finally it’s our turn and me and my best friend approached the firing line and placed our gear on the bench in front of us. Uh oh, I forgot to read the instruction manual on my pistol! It’s not like the common types of firearms the instructor shared with us in class. Oh well, I’ll figure it out, there’s no time limit after all. I put on my hearing and eye protection and lay out my gear.

 

The command is given to load our mags with 10 rounds. Mine held less than 10 so I loaded two mags. The next command told us to insert the mags and make the gun ready. I remember the instructor telling us to raise our hands and ask questions if we have any and I think about asking for help with my pistol, but I don’t because it would hold up the line and it would be embarrassing. I’ll figure it out I’m sure. How hard can it be? My mind is racing trying to figure out how this pistol operates.

 

“10 rounds, slow fire, commence firing!” The RSO gives the command and my best friend and those around me are shooting. My hands are shaking, the noise, the pressure, the unfamiliarity with my weapon.. it’s all getting to me. I’m supposed to be firing but my gun won’t shoot. Let me look closer.. I turn it sideways to look.. I can figure this out…

 

Suddenly the instructor is yelling at me while the RSO is yanking the pistol from my hands. It was quick, sudden, and frankly it pissed me off a bit. Who are these guys and why are they bothering me? I just want to pass the test. Eh? The instructor told the RSO to take me off the line. Everyone is looking at me. Here comes the instructor, he better have a good reason or embarrassing me like this.

 

He looks pissed but controlled. Uh oh.. He gets close to me and quietly said “you broke two safety rules at the same time. You had your finger on the trigger, and you were pointing it at the guy next to you in the chest area so you were pointing the gun at something you didn’t want to destroy.” “Sit back and when they’re done we’ll run you through by yourself” And he stalks off obviously pissed.

 

I watch the others shoot and immediately I start going over what happened in my head. Really, at first I felt there must be some mistake. I don’t break safety rules, especially since the instructor went over them over and over. I knew what they were, I’d never do what he says I did.. but the more I think about it I know I didn’t know the gun. I was really concentrating on the new gun and how to operate it. The pressure from the range was distracting me also.

 

Everyone finishes and the instructor calls me up all by myself, how humiliating. I’m the only person shooting alone. It’s not a punishment, it’s just that I’m the last person who needs to qualify so here I am. I wonder how many people saw me screw up? Crap! The instructor provides me a nice weapon we went over in class. I know how to work that one so with three RSO’s and the instructor covering me like I was a diamond thief ready to make a break for it I once more start my qualification. With only me shooting it’s over quickly. It wasn’t difficult at all, I did well too.

 

Qualifications are over, certificates are being handed out, and the instructor hands me mine and shakes my hand. The look in his eyes told me he hadn’t forgotten. He warned in class this could happen if everyone wasn’t careful. He said someone who doesn’t follow rules endangers everyone on the range and that no one came to his class to get holes put in them. We laughed at the time. But now.. man it was real. I’ve went over it in my mind many times and my finger was on the trigger and the muzzle was aimed squarely at the guys chest next to me. And not just any guy, that guy was my best friend. I’ve known him most of my life. I know his family...

 

With the class over my best friend and I talk. He knows what happened. He knows I came a twitch away from putting a round in his chest. Thank God the instructor caught me before it was too late. Thank God the Range Safety Officer to student coverage was so great that an RSO was right on top of me and ready to act when the instructor started yelling.

 

My hands are really shaking now. I want to leave, take my certificate and leave before the other students see me getting upset. I could feel tears coming to my eyes and I didn’t want anyone to see. I was frustrated, angry at myself, and scared to death of possibly hurting my best friend. I’m so glad he’s okay. The instructor had cleared my weapon and told me I should have learned about my pistol before trying to use it and to not use it on his range.

 

I’m so angry at myself! What if I’d shot by best fiend? What if,. What if.. I feel so emotional. I’ll never forget the look on his face. I’ll never forget this incident period. I so let my best friend down and he knows it. He’ll always know. The bad parts I can live with, but I could have never lived with accidently shooting and very possibly killing my best friend.

 

It’s been a few days. When I think about it I still shake. It’s a bit awkward between my best friend and I. I apologized and tried to explain.. but we both know I screwed the pooch. I’ll always know. I had a dream about it last night and it wasn’t a good dream. One mistake and I almost lost so much.  So close, I almost lost everything..