Buying your first handgun presents one perplexing problem after another. Do you buy a gun first, then learn? What sort of gun do you buy? Pistol or revolver? Do you trust your training to YouTube videos and books, or do you put your life in the hands of trained professionals? How do you find the right program in the Washington D.C. area?
The first questions have infinite facets and are better saved for future days and posts, but the one question should be a no brainer: Of course you get professional training before buying a firearm! Proper handling and care for your pistol is absolutely essential for you to have a successful and safe experience with your gun.
The easiest way to find classes is to Google it. Type in some combination of “handgun training in Northern Virginia” and you will likely find a few options in your area. First you should discount anyone without an NRA certification. The NRA certification serves as the gold standard in handgun training, and there’s no reason you should settle for less. Otherwise you just don’t know if you’re getting training that is accurate, safe, and eligible for helping you get your Virginia concealed carry permit.
Next you want to check out whether the class includes live firing at a range. If not, then again you can easily count that option out. Watching a PowerPoint about handguns and actually shooting one is the difference between reading about the Grand Canyon and seeing it in person. It’s just not the same! It is absolutely essential that you get your hand on an actual weapon and actually put some rounds down range. Otherwise, you should just stick with YouTube videos.
Finally, check out class size, price, and convenience. If you can afford it, hiring an instructor one-on-one is a great option, but it will lighten your wallet more than group classes. Generally it will be cheaper for you to take part in a larger class but some companies in Northern Virginia have small class sizes. National Shooters has 1 instructor to 3 student ratio to maximize the learning experience which is almost unheard of in the Washington D.C. area. Convenience is the next thing to take into account. For me, National Shooters in Arlington, Virginia outside of Shirlington Town Center offered the perfect combination. It was close to home in Northern Virginia and scheduled after work so I didn’t have to give up a Saturday for instruction. And they have small class sizes to meet my learning demands. You can find other classes in the area, but none match the price, convenience, and quality that you’ll find at National Shooters.