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Guns & ZERO experience. Need advice!!!

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  • Guns & ZERO experience. Need advice!!!

    I'm waiting to see whether I'll be accepted into our upcoming Jan. academy. Finished all tests, everything looks good (?), BI complete and my 'life in a folder' has made its way to the final decision makers...

    I have zero experience with guns, however. I've never even held one. I couldn't tell you the difference between gun A through gun Z. Ignorance doesn't begin to describe my knowledge of them and how to handle one.

    I hold a BS in ADJ, and while I feel this has empowered me a little bit in regards to having no LE experience, I know it's just words/opinions/case studies/facts. Basically meaning, I can obviously learn the academics and philosophy behind anything (or so I believe I can), I know that the actual day to day and utilization of what I've learned is what will teach me the most. No question about it.

    So, since I can't "practice" LE without being cop, should I do something (anything) in regards to weapons? Should I just read up as much as I can before January? Go to a range somewhere and begin practicing? I'm too embarrassed to ask my B.Investigator this (I don't know why, but I just am). Or...should I just wait for Jan to come and start at square ONE? Does the academy actually start you at square ONE, if everyone else has some knowledge/experience??? I would hate to be the one person who makes things go slower than it has to, because of this. ANY opinions/suggestions/advice is greatly appreciated!

  • #2
    Don't worry about it. Pay attention to what they tell you and you'll be shooting better than the guys who think they learned to shoot well from uncle Bill at the city dump. If you have poor finger stength, you can work on that before hand. Other than that, just pay attention to the instructors and dry fire a lot at home.

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    • #3
      I'd be reasonably confident in the academy providing you training "from square one", or pretty darn close to it. Remember, thousands of people have gone before you, and you're not the first person with apprehensions surrounding inexperience with weaponry. They'll start with the basics and work their way up.

      One thing I would recommend, however, is to find someone who is into guns, especially handguns. Everybody knows somebody, even if it's a friend of a friend, who is a gun enthusiast. Talk to them, glean what you can, even handle some pistols in order to become more familiar with how it feels. Better yet, go with that person to a local indoor range, if you can find one (or outdoor, for that matter). At the beginning, don't worry a bit about accuracy or marksmanship. Just become comfortable with holding a controlled explosion in your hands, so it doesn't ever surprise you. All the specifics (i.e. hand positioning, trigger squeeze, sight alignment) will be fully covered in your academy. The goal for you right now is basic familiarization.

      Even if you're not able to get your hands on the same brand/model of handgun that you'll be carrying, most semi-auto handguns operate in the same general manner. Familiarizing yourself with the basic operation of a semi-automatic handgun will go a long way toward helping you come time for the academy.
      "Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king...or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and commend those who do right. For it is God's will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men. Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God. Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king." I Peter 2:13-17

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      • #4
        Thank you both! You eased my mind a little. I'm fully prepared to pay attention and learn. I hope I never have to use it, though. Again, forgive my ignorance. I don't even know what you guys 'think' about that statement, either. I'm trying to get all this out of my system before January. (nerves/confidence level). This forum and the experience within it is truly appreciated.

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        • #5
          Practice practice practice. Find out what type of gun you will be carrying. Find someone who has that same gun and go to the range. Blow off however many boxes of rounds you need. Try shooting with your weak hand. You can use both hands to steady the gun. Then try weak hand only. You will be amazed how your weak hand sucks...especially if your shooting double action. The academy instructors will refine the basics ie trigger pull, best grip, sight picture etc. We were all there one time in our lives- you'll do fine.

          PS Our qualification range starts off with weak hand shooting from 25 yds.

          Don't be scared of your gun!! Get comfortable with it and familiar with the components .

          Your comment,"I hope I never have to use it." If it's between them and you...you'll use it. :
          Last edited by deputy x 2; 10-25-2005, 09:06 PM.
          This profession is not for people looking for positive reinforcement from the public. Very often it can be a thankless job and you can't desire accolades, because those are not usually forthcoming. Just do your job to the best of your ability and live with the decisions you've made.

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          • #6
            Relax about shooting issues,get you body and finances in shape...

            Most major academies and Depts teach you how to use a firearm.The attitude that you need to be familiar with it before you get to the academy can lead to ALOT of bad habits- "THEY" will teach you everything you need to know.Since most of the Female population has never played "cowboy" or shot bbguns/.22 rifles or guns of any kind, they don't tend to think they "know" it all-coupled with the fact that the "so-called" weaker sex tends to have better eye sight and by their 20s,better hand eye coordination, they are less apt to struggle with shooting( my LAPD academy class had 10 out of the 25 woman in the class shoot at the sharp shooter level, while only 18 out of the 38 male officers shot at that level when we first started qualifying!).My only complaint is that many Depts stick to the one size fits all attitude, and you'll see 6'3" cave men with palm sized model 17 glocks or 5' nuthing female counter parts packing S&W 4516s cause the Dept sez thats the gun they are going to carry.nearly ALL agencies use semi-auto pistols( handguns capable of mechanically rechambering a live round or bullet to fire after the pull of each trigger), and many now chamber their weapons in the popular .40 cal round which does have some medium to heavy recoil characteristics, or "kick" as the unknowing refer to it.when you recieve word that you'll be in the academy you can address those issues then(don't put the cart before the horse) .Many states still implement the para military style of trng and you'll get your trng in segments-,as well as personal assistance and remediation if you are having trouble
            "we're americans ! We don't quit because we're wrong, we just keep doing it wrong UNTIL it turns out Right"...

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            • #7
              DON'T SHOOT A GUN BEFORE YOU GO TO THE ACADEMY!

              You will learn how to shoot a gun the proper way from the beginning.

              congratulations on being accepted.

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              • #8
                USAcop

                Haven't been accepted 'yet'. I'm still waiting, unfortunately. As of last Thursday, I was told everything was finished and to sit tight for the next couple of weeks.

                I like what I'm hearing, though. I didn't want to start any bad habits before the academy, but I'm not against learning what I can now. I think I'll try and read up what I can on the subject and take it from there. Or, I may just do as suggested and go in knowing nothing and letting the acad. train me.

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                • #9
                  I'm with USAcop! I spent 9 years as the lead firearms/officer survival instructor at my agency's academy. We much prefered those who knew they did not know how to shoot - they were easy to teach, and every one of them did well, thanks to my staff.
                  Those who 'thought they knew' found they had lots of bad habits to unlearn.
                  You don't know how to cuff someone, or write a citation or report, drive Code 3, and expect the academy to teach you all of that. Let them teach you how to shoot, too.
                  "A man who has nothing which he cares about more than he does about his personal safety is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the existing of better men than himself."
                  John Stuart Mill

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                  • #10
                    Thanks, Sleuth.

                    That sounds like the major consensus, so I'm going with it. When I did my ride-along, (lol), the guy I rode with was super nice but at least a few times he would talk gun talk at me (just general conversation - no specific reason). I kept looking at him, smiling meekly, raising my shoulders and saying "I know nothing about guns". He wasn't trying to be macho or anything like that. It did make me think, though, that perhaps I should at least know what a (whatever) gun is as opposed to a (whatever) rifle. I feel better now! Thx again!

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                    • #11
                      The same advice holds true for most law enforcement training. Even if you come from a family of cops, try to clear your mind and learn from your Academy instructors. I teach at the Academy occasionally and I used to waste a lot of valuable training time debunking myths or un-teaching bad habits. Firearms and criminal law need to be approached as if you have lived in a cave all of your life. Have no pre-conceived notions about how they work.
                      Jerry
                      "If all else fails, stop using all else!"

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                      • #12
                        Guns and Zero Experience

                        You're what Academy firearms instructors say nightly prayers for. A recruit who reaches them with no pre-concieved notions concerning firearms, and no bad habits to "unlearn". Listen to what your instructors tell you. Become a fanatic on firearms and range safety. Shooting is an "acquired skill". The gals often outshoot the guys, and more often than not, it's the gal who's never handled a weapon before. Good luck!!

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                        • #13
                          I have been in 2 seperate academies and in both at least one person that has never touched a gun before ended up being one of the top shooters.
                          Two people can keep a secret if one of them is dead.

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                          • #14
                            Hellokitty:

                            I'm going to run counter to some of the advice given and suggest that you do get some shooting time in.

                            First, hit the sporting goods store and find a hand exerciser or two. The "squeeze the spring" type - sort of "V"-shaped with plastic or rubber grips. Get into the habit of putting a half-dozen squeezes on the thing whenever a TV commercial comes on, or sitting at a red light in the car, etc. While you don't need a lot of strength to pull a trigger, the more you have, the easier it will be to control your trigger pull, and that will be necessary later. A rubber ball will help, too.

                            Find a range (and/or a friend) and a .38 caliber or larger handgun. Also find a .22 target pistol of some kind.

                            No need to even try to be any good with them - the .22 is going to be about as easy as anything you'll ever shoot - the idea there is to get some idea of a sight picture and how to operate a trigger. Then move to the bigger caliber to get some (possibly unpleasant initially) experience in the larger bores.

                            Don't be afraid of the bigger guns.... My very petite teenage daughter transitioned between a .22 target pistol and a .45 (about as big as it gets for most LEO's) in a few minutes. That gawdawful bang was just more fun, and she was hitting the paper, more or less. (She prefers a medium-frame .357 revolver or a large 9mm pistol to the .45, but can handle all of them.)

                            Once you get used to the larger caliber, do be prepared to forget everything you've learned when you get to the academy, but at least you won't be afraid of the gun they hand you or jump 3' in the air when the guy or gal beside you lets off their first shot.

                            Take some time, too, to get familiar with basic gun handling safety issues and range safety. The NRA has a nice "basic pistol" book that would be worth a read. These things won't jump off the table and start spraying bullets, but they are seriously dangerous if mis-handled. It's mostly just common sense, but it wouldn't hurt to hear about that before your instructors start trying to teach you.

                            (If possible, for the "larger caliber" gun, get one like they're going to give you at the academy. You'll need to be able to strip and clean the gun anyway, so some practice there would be useful.)

                            Count on your instructors to teach you how to shoot - the stuff you pick up beforehand is just a ridealong - but it won't hurt to have some idea of what's going on when you hit the class. I can't tell you how many "this is a gun" classes I've attended in more than 37 years of carrying, but it always seems that there's somebody in the class who doesn't know which end to point at the bad guy. Being able to not be that person may be useful, and perhaps decrease the boredom level for some of your classmates.

                            It's important to not challenge the instructor, too, or at least do it quietly . They're not likely to try to teach you anything dangerous, but you may hear something that runs counter to what you saw or heard during your "practice." Ask 'em later if you can, but you have to assume they have a good reason. Some PD's may still be using flap holsters - good luck on trying to change that.... But if they like triple-retention and somebody told you that single or double is "good enough", keeping your trap shut may be an advantage.

                            Welcome to the field!

                            Regards,
                            Stu.

                            (Why write a quick note when you can write a novel?)

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                            • #15
                              You're better off learning once you start firearms training. You don't need ANY firearms experience to become a proficient shooter quickly.

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