NRA Women’s Only First Steps Pistol Course

As I mentioned in my first post, I signed up for a NRA gun safety course called Women’s Only First Steps Pistol. 

Before going to the range to shoot or purchasing a gun, I wanted to make sure that I learned the proper steps to ensure that I use the weapon safely and correctly. After coming to the realization that I had absolutely no idea what to do if ever handed a gun, I immediately started googling. It wasn’t long into my search that I found a women’s only safety course that was taught at a location not too far from me called Virginia Gun Safety.

Registering for the course was easy and took less than 5 minutes. There was also a very detailed description on their website that told me exactly what to expect from the course. The course was to be conducted into 2 parts; classroom time and range time. Since my course has 2 parts, so will my blog post. After all, I’m sure they had a good reason not to shove it all at me at one time so I won’t do that to you. 


PART ONE: The Classroom

I left work a couple of hours early yesterday to make sure that even with the horrors known as DC traffic, I could still make it in time for the course. I arrived to the training academy about 30 minutes early and went on inside. I was immediately greeted by a couple of guys who were very friendly and inviting. As I enter the lecture room, I noticed only one other name tag on the table. Turns out not many people take advantage of the weekday courses. I had no issue with this. All this meant to me was that I could get more one on one time if needed. 

After the second girl showed up, we went ahead and started learning the basic rules of gun safety:

1) Always keep the gun pointed in a safe direction

2) Always keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot

3) Always keep the gun unloaded until ready to use

(Note that “use” and “shoot” are two different terminologies. Ready to shoot means you are ready to take a shot at your target. Ready to use means that the gun is loaded and will be ready to fire at any time)


Next we went into the parts of the gun and how to check if it is unloaded. First of all, NEVER assume a gun is unloaded. Check, double check, and check again. Make sure the magazine is released and the chamber is empty, preferably by locking the slide and checking the barrel. If you are unsure of the terminology I am using, I will be doing a video once I purchase my handgun to show the different parts of the gun. 

Now it was time for our “practical”. Before we entered the next room, we were told to practice safe habits by “letting it fall” if anything was dropped. The other student and myself were a little curious about the reasoning behind this. Your instinct when something falls is to either catch it or pick it up right away. When it comes to guns, that is not the case and can be very dangerous. When we both agreed that we wouldn’t pick anything up if we dropped it, we were able to go to the next room. 

In the practical room, we were taught to pull and lock the slide back, load/unload the magazine, and the correct ways to check if a gun is loaded. This was extremely helpful to me and gave me the opportunity for some hands-on learning before actually having to shoot. In this case, I did not feel that I was being “fed to the wolves”. After practicing this a couple of times and taking some constructive direction, we were then redirected back to the lecture room. 

We then entered the last stretch of the lecture which covered bullets, pistol shooting, and gun maintenance/cleaning. 

All in all, walking away from this class I felt very well educated and ready for the range time the following day. The instructors at Virginia Gun Safety were very conscientious about going at our own pace and answering any questions we had. They took the time to go into depth as to why certain things are done the way they are done. 

I would definitely recommend taking this course, especially as a woman. The only recommendations I would give the NRA for a “women’s only” course is to go a little bit into protecting yourself as a woman. When men get in an altercation, their attacker is usually in front of them whereas a woman’s attacker normally comes from behind. Briefly going into the basics of this may make this course seem a little more specialized for women.

Have you ever taken a women’s only safety course before? If you’re a man, what courses have you taken that you would recommend?

Tomorrow I will be writing about part two, my experience at the range. See you soon!


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