Mason County News
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Tap, Rack, & Roll
Wednesday, March 3, 2010 • Posted March 3, 2010

There are certain things an American guy naturally knows everything about, just because he’s an American guy. This basic rule holds true no matter what, even if the guy knows absolutely nothing about one of these things. It’s like that T-shirt that says: Rule #1 – I’m always right. Rule #2 – If I’m wrong, refer to Rule #1.

One of the things guys know everything about is driving. The average American guy believes, and will maintain even during water boarding, that he is an above average driver, and is far better at it than 90% of American women. You can ask a guy who has just run a red light, passed in a no passing zone, and parked in someone’s living room what kind of driving skills he has, and he will tell you he’s better than average.

Another thing guys know how to do, even if they don’t, is shooting. Every little boy starts practicing his shooting when he’s still wearing diapers, even though he has no idea what a gun is. Give a little girl a banana and she’ll eat it. Give a little boy a banana and he’ll shoot the cat with it.

I, of course, am an above average shot. Just ask me. So when I decided to go to San Antonio and take Josh Felker’s Basic Handgun training class, I knew he wasn’t going to be able to teach me anything. After all, I’ve been shooting a pistol all my life, even before I knew what a pistol was. So there.

But I went to the class anyway, because it’s hard to find a more enjoyable way to kill an afternoon than shooting. Besides, I have a Smith & Wesson 1911PD .45 ACP, and I’m always looking for an excuse to burn up a few boxes of ammo. You can spend more money on a 1911 style pistol, but you won’t get a better gun. You’ll just get a lighter wallet.

There were only five of us in Josh’s class the day I took it, which is probably typical. He keeps the classes small so everyone gets plenty of personal instruction. Not that I needed any instruction, but the other guys did.

Josh began by showing everyone how to stand. There are conflicting schools of thought on how one should turn and plant his feet and such, when shooting at the average Stop N Rob holdup perpetrator. So we, by which I mean the other guys, learned how to do all that.

Then Josh showed us how to hold our pistols (with every available hand). Your average guy naturally wants to shoot with one hand, which is fine if he wants to miss. Plus there is a right way and a wrong way to use your spare hand. Or something.

Once we, I mean they, had that all straight we started shooting. Since the idea was to learn to draw, aim, and effectively fire a handgun from a concealed position in a high-stress situation, that’s the way Josh’s training is handled. When he said ‘gun’ we had to draw, aim, fire two or three shots at a human silhouette target (about 3 feet away), scan for other threats, and then bring the gun bank to our chest, aiming forward.

You’d be surprised how hard it is to remember to do all that. I mean for the other guys. Luckily, part of Josh’s training, before the guns are even loaded, involves making sure you don’t do anything stupid, like aim the gun at yourself, or take the safety off too early, or put your finger on the trigger before you’re ready to shoot. Safety is the number one priority.

Josh had us shoot various numbers of shots, at various parts of the targets, from various distances, and we were having plenty of fun. And then he said, "You need to learn to clear jams in a hurry, so we’re going to do that." Bummer.

The whole idea is to train yourself to clear your gun and get it going again quick if it jams when you need it most, which is logical but frustrating. Josh had us load three or four magazines, except we had to put empty cases in them at random, so our guns would jam without warning. When that happened we had to tap the mag, rack the slide, and get back in business. Josh kept saying, "Tap and rack. Tap and rack."

We also had to reload in a hurry, and by the end of the day we were engaging three targets, while Josh told us which target to shoot and how many times and whether to shoot the head or the body, and we had to reload when we were empty while he kept at us to hurry, and the whole time he was standing right there shooting his 9mm Glock, and dirt was flying everywhere. All I can say is I never had that much fun shooting a banana at the cat.

The whole afternoon was a blast, and we did a lot of stuff I don’t have room for here. I highly recommend Josh if you’re looking for some basic pistol training. Even if, like me, you’re a guy and don’t need it . . .

Kendal Hemphill is an outdoor humor columnist and public speaker who never hit the cat with the banana. Write to him at PO Box 1600, Mason, Tx 76856 or

For Concealed Handgun License classes, or basic to advanced training with pistol, rifle, or shotgun, call Josh Felker at 210.745.2956 or

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