My Thoughts On The “Basics”

Hello everybody! I recently took part in a short pistol clinic. It was held by a local instructor and was geared towards safety, basic shooting fundamentals and holster work. It was a fun clinic that really focused on drilling safety and fundamentals into us. As an instructor and firearms enthusiaist I truly appreciate that. But it really got me thinking about the basics. Not just there importance but actually wrapping my head around using them with every single round I send down range. How do we truly clear our minds and let those primordial shooting skills and “muscle memory” really take over. A good friend of mine calls it “Monkeys and Footballs”. Whether using a timer or a “threat” yell we all battle with our own lack of concentration at times. Our minds turn to jelly it seems, and we end up looking like a bunch of monkeys trying to play catch with footballs if you can envision that. So how do we minimize this? How do we control our minds and concentrate on topics of our choosing instead of bouncing around from one mental locker room to another? Well lets look at some basic disciplines of pistol shooting and I believe we will start to see a pattern.

First of all if you don’t have a solid understanding of the basics of pistol shooting it’s going to be near impossible for you to have consistency on your targets. So what are some of these basic fundamentally known disciplines I’m speaking of? This is just my opinion of a portion of what the list looks like.

Stance: You need to have a comfortable, natural stance. Feet should be about shoulder width apart and you should be squared up to the target. To steady your platform lean forward just a little to maximize your center of gravity. This is going to help you aim. It may feel unnatural at first but with practice it comes relatively easy.

Grip: I’m only discussing semiautomatics here not revolvers. They’re all that matter in my opinion. Holding the pistol in your strong hand I want you to get a high grip but make sure you keep your hand below the slide. Support hand thumb goes along the frame just under the slide and keep your index finger on the opposite side of the frame. Finger off the trigger! Wrap your support hand around your dominant hand, keeping your fingers under the trigger guard. Dominant thumb should be laying on top of the support thumb. This is a thumbs forward grip and it takes a lot of practice to become comfortable with it and even more training to become efficient at it.

Aiming: Front sight focus is imperative to your success here. Pistols have front and rear sights. Use them! People have peripheral vision. Use it! What do I mean by this? I mean always shoot with both eyes open. For many of us, this requires many hours of dry fire practice but the good news is that dry fire practice is free. Just takes the right kind of attitude and ambition to be successful at it. If you’re taking the time to read this blog then you probably have the mental fortitude to do this with practice. Keep both eyes open, line up the front sight so it sits squarely between the rear sight posts and is centered on the target. This is called sight alignment and sight picture and together, when done properly, keep your aim true. This doesn’t happen overnight though. You may get discouraged but you can do this with practice.

Trigger Control: I can’t stress enough the importance of pressing the trigger straight back in a smooth fluid like motion using the pad of the trigger finger. The smooth press straight back minimizes movement and thus helps to keep you on target. Anything else is unacceptable and will leave you wondering, “why didn’t I hit my intended target”? Listen to me here, there is no substitute for dry fire practice and live fire practice on this particular discipline. Every practice rep and every round down range counts so make the most of them.

Recoil Management: Guns produce recoil. No doubt about it. The battle we all have is minimizing or controling it. How? Well with a lot of practice. A solid grip and base are very important during practice. You’re probably going to anticipate the reoil though and that will cause you to push the gun downwards sometimes. It’s a common problem amongst newer shooters especially but with practice and training it can usually be overcome. Stop focusing on the “fear of the bang” and concentrate instead on your front sight, breathing pattern, holding the gun steady, minimizing your arc of movement, and presentation toward the target. Clear your mind. Stop worrying about what’s for dinner and concentrate on the business at hand.

Concentration: Defined as the action or power of focusing one’s attention or mental effort. We have now come full circle.

Concentrating is one of my basic pistol shooting disciplines. Without it I don’t believe we can have repeatable success on the range. We may get lucky from time to time but if the shot isn’t repeatable does it really matter? So did we answer the original question? Do you remember what the original question was? Let me refresh your memory. I basically asked how do we improve our ability to concentrate when we’re on the line? Well folks, like most things involving firearms the answer is simple. We practice and we train until we succeed. Concentrating is just another discpline that requires our best efforts. As gun enthusiaists, competitors, hunters, 2nd amendment advocates, etc that’s just what we do. We work with our tools until we are the best we can be.

Leave it all on the range,


Florida State Statute 790.15

790.15 – Discharging firearm in public or on residential property.

Because of where I live and my frequent Facebook interactions with people this particular statute has a special place in my heart. The topic of “back yard ranges” seems to come up on a daily basis. Lets disect 790.15 just a little bit shall we? But be advised! I am not your source for legal advise. This is simply my interpretation and my own personal experience.

(1) Except as provided in subsection (2) or subsection (3), any person who knowingly discharges a firearm in any public place or on the right-of-way of any paved public road, highway, or street, who knowingly discharges any firearm over the right-of-way of any paved public road, highway, or street or over any occupied premises, or who recklessly or negligently discharges a firearm outdoors on any property used primarily as the site of a dwelling as defined in s. 776.013 or zoned exclusively for residential use commits a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s.775.083. This section does not apply to a person lawfully defending life or property or performing official duties requiring the discharge of a firearm or to a person discharging a firearm on public roads or properties expressly approved for hunting by the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission or Florida Forest Service.

My Comments:

Section 1 sounds pretty clear to me. No discharging firearms…

  • in a public place
  • on the right-of-way of a paved public road, highway, or street
  • over an occupied premise
  • recklessly or negligently on any property primarily used as a dwelling site or zoned exclusively residential

Now that we understand what the statute says we can’t do we can continue reading to understand it’s a first degree misdemeanor if charged. Keep in mind, the law tells you what’s illegal not what is legal. So far nothing stopping Acreage residents from enjoying safe responsible plinking on their property right?

(2) Any occupant of any vehicle who knowingly and willfully discharges any firearm from the vehicle within 1,000 feet of any person commits a felony of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.

My Comments:

Section 2 seems pretty cut and dry right? If you want to practice shooting from a vehicle make sure you’re at least 1,000ft away from other people. Maybe this isn’t a good idea to try on your property. Just my opinion anyways.

(3) Any driver or owner of any vehicle, whether or not the owner of the vehicle is occupying the vehicle, who knowingly directs any other person to discharge any firearm from the vehicle commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.

My Comments:

Section 3 is pretty clear isn’t it? What I get out of this is don’t tell someone to dscharge a firearm from the vehicle you own or are operating. Let me put it to you like this, NO DRIVE BYES! No getting mad at a tailgater and telling the passenger to shoot out their tire. Seems obvious doesn’t it?

(4) Any person who recreationally discharges a firearm outdoors, including target shooting, in an area that the person knows or reasonably should know is primarily residential in nature and that has a residential density of one or more dwelling units per acre, commits a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083. This subsection does not apply:

(a) To a person lawfully defending life or property or performing official duties requiring the discharge of a firearm;
(b) If, under the circumstances, the discharge does not pose a reasonably foreseeable risk to life, safety, or property; or
(c) To a person who accidentally discharges a firearm.
My Comments:
Section 4 is the “meat and potatoes” of this statute in my opinion. Let’s break this down a bit shall we?
  • If you read section 4 in it’s entirety it sure does sound like target shooting at home would be illegal right? First degree misdemeanor punishable by 775.082 or 775.083. Scary stuff. BUT!!! There’s hope!!! The very last sentence clearly states “This subsection does not apply: (b) If, under the circumstances, the discharge does not pose a reasonably foreseeable risk to life, safety, or property”

What in the world is that supposed to mean? If I build a really nice private range with large thick berms I’m good right? As long as I’m being responsible and there’s no drinking alcohol or other craziness when the deputies arrive then I’m legal right? Well folks here’s the bottom line… it’s up to the deputy responding in my opinion!

Here’s my final thoughts based on my personal experience. I’ve had deputies out to my house multiple times now. Neighbors complained about noise, gun fire, and a few times the deputies simply heard gunfire so they investigated. Each and evey time they were simply doing their job and each and every time I welcomed them on to my propety so they could see my range with their own two eyes. I always have eye and ear protection. I always have my firearms cleared, slide/bolt locked back and pointed in a safe direction. I never have alcohol in my range area. I don’t even throw empty bottles in the garbage can back there. I have targets hanging and I have a 30’x10’x8′ berm with 150 tires behind it as my back stop. And I have never had a local deputy ask me to stop plinking. We have always shook hands and wished each other well. Being respectful goes a long way. Having a private range is incredibly fun and valuable for training but it comes with an enormous responsibilty. And in my humble opinion it’s a freedom worth fighting for!

Be safe and see you in class,



The Florida Statutes

Chapter 790 – Weapons & Firearms

790.001 Definitions.As used in this chapter, except where the context otherwise requires:

(1) “Antique firearm” means any firearm manufactured in or before 1918 (including any matchlock, flintlock, percussion cap, or similar early type of ignition system) or replica thereof, whether actually manufactured before or after the year 1918, and also any firearm using fixed ammunition manufactured in or before 1918, for which ammunition is no longer manufactured in the United States and is not readily available in the ordinary channels of commercial trade.
(2) “Concealed firearm” means any firearm, as defined in subsection (6), which is carried on or about a person in such a manner as to conceal the firearm from the ordinary sight of another person.
(3)(a) “Concealed weapon” means any dirk, metallic knuckles, billie, tear gas gun, chemical weapon or device, or other deadly weapon carried on or about a person in such a manner as to conceal the weapon from the ordinary sight of another person.
(b) “Tear gas gun” or “chemical weapon or device” means any weapon of such nature, except a device known as a “self-defense chemical spray.” “Self-defense chemical spray” means a device carried solely for purposes of lawful self-defense that is compact in size, designed to be carried on or about the person, and contains not more than two ounces of chemical.

(4) “Destructive device” means any bomb, grenade, mine, rocket, missile, pipebomb, or similar device containing an explosive, incendiary, or poison gas and includes any frangible container filled with an explosive, incendiary, explosive gas, or expanding gas, which is designed or so constructed as to explode by such filler and is capable of causing bodily harm or property damage; any combination of parts either designed or intended for use in converting any device into a destructive device and from which a destructive device may be readily assembled; any device declared a destructive device by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms; any type of weapon which will, is designed to, or may readily be converted to expel a projectile by the action of any explosive and which has a barrel with a bore of one-half inch or more in diameter; and ammunition for such destructive devices, but not including shotgun shells or any other ammunition designed for use in a firearm other than a destructive device. “Destructive device” does not include:

(a) A device which is not designed, redesigned, used, or intended for use as a weapon;
(b) Any device, although originally designed as a weapon, which is redesigned so that it may be used solely as a signaling, line-throwing, safety, or similar device;
(c) Any shotgun other than a short-barreled shotgun; or
(d) Any nonautomatic rifle (other than a short-barreled rifle) generally recognized or particularly suitable for use for the hunting of big game.

(5) “Explosive” means any chemical compound or mixture that has the property of yielding readily to combustion or oxidation upon application of heat, flame, or shock, including but not limited to dynamite, nitroglycerin, trinitrotoluene, or ammonium nitrate when combined with other ingredients to form an explosive mixture, blasting caps, and detonators; but not including:

(a) Shotgun shells, cartridges, or ammunition for firearms;
(b) Fireworks as defined in s. 791.01;
(c) Smokeless propellant powder or small arms ammunition primers, if possessed, purchased, sold, transported, or used in compliance with s. 552.241;
(d) Black powder in quantities not to exceed that authorized by chapter 552, or by any rules adopted thereunder by the Department of Financial Services, when used for, or intended to be used for, the manufacture of target and sporting ammunition or for use in muzzle-loading flint or percussion weapons.

The exclusions contained in paragraphs (a)-(d) do not apply to the term “explosive” as used in the definition of “firearm” in subsection (6).

(6) “Firearm” means any weapon (including a starter gun) which will, is designed to, or may readily be converted to expel a projectile by the action of an explosive; the frame or receiver of any such weapon; any firearm muffler or firearm silencer; any destructive device; or any machine gun. The term “firearm” does not include an antique firearm unless the antique firearm is used in the commission of a crime.
(7) “Indictment” means an indictment or an information in any court under which a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding 1 year may be prosecuted.

(8) “Law enforcement officer” means:

(a) All officers or employees of the United States or the State of Florida, or any agency, commission, department, board, division, municipality, or subdivision thereof, who have authority to make arrests;
(b) Officers or employees of the United States or the State of Florida, or any agency, commission, department, board, division, municipality, or subdivision thereof, duly authorized to carry a concealed weapon;
(c) Members of the Armed Forces of the United States, the organized reserves, state militia, or Florida National Guard, when on duty, when preparing themselves for, or going to or from, military duty, or under orders;
(d) An employee of the state prisons or correctional systems who has been so designated by the Department of Corrections or by a warden of an institution;
(e) All peace officers;
(f) All state attorneys and United States attorneys and their respective assistants and investigators.
(9) “Machine gun” means any firearm, as defined herein, which shoots, or is designed to shoot, automatically more than one shot, without manually reloading, by a single function of the trigger.
(10) “Short-barreled shotgun” means a shotgun having one or more barrels less than 18 inches in length and any weapon made from a shotgun (whether by alteration, modification, or otherwise) if such weapon as modified has an overall length of less than 26 inches.
(11) “Short-barreled rifle” means a rifle having one or more barrels less than 16 inches in length and any weapon made from a rifle (whether by alteration, modification, or otherwise) if such weapon as modified has an overall length of less than 26 inches.
(12) “Slungshot” means a small mass of metal, stone, sand, or similar material fixed on a flexible handle, strap, or the like, used as a weapon.
(13) “Weapon” means any dirk, knife, metallic knuckles, slungshot, billie, tear gas gun, chemical weapon or device, or other deadly weapon except a firearm or a common pocketknife, plastic knife, or blunt-bladed table knife.
(14) “Electric weapon or device” means any device which, through the application or use of electrical current, is designed, redesigned, used, or intended to be used for offensive or defensive purposes, the destruction of life, or the infliction of injury.
(15) “Dart-firing stun gun” means any device having one or more darts that are capable of delivering an electrical current.
(16) “Readily accessible for immediate use” means that a firearm or other weapon is carried on the person or within such close proximity and in such a manner that it can be retrieved and used as easily and quickly as if carried on the person.
(17) “Securely encased” means in a glove compartment, whether or not locked; snapped in a holster; in a gun case, whether or not locked; in a zippered gun case; or in a closed box or container which requires a lid or cover to be opened for access.
(18) “Sterile area” means the area of an airport to which access is controlled by the inspection of persons and property in accordance with federally approved airport security programs.

(19) “Ammunition” means an object consisting of all of the following:

(a) A fixed metallic or nonmetallic hull or casing containing a primer.
(b) One or more projectiles, one or more bullets, or shot.
(c) Gunpowder.