This is a new series I’m going to be writing about gun myths and misunderstandings. There are a lot of them out there, and some of them are really deep-seated. Some aren’t going to hurt you too much, and some are really harmful and misleading. I’m going to present these in no particular order, just as I remember them. If you have any suggestions, please feel free to let me know. If I don’t know the answer, I’ll do my research and testing so I can give you a good answer.
Here’s the first one, brought up by a friend of mine, a gunsmith-in-training and an experienced shooter. Hopefully that’s an indication that none of us (even me, I’m sure) are immune to buying into these myths.
“You should buy a revolver or a bolt action rifle to learn how to shoot properly. Having a semi-auto with a big magazine won’t teach you to shoot because you have so many rounds, you’ll just spray them everywhere.”
There is nothing magical about a revolver or a bolt-action rifle. They are both solid designs and they definitely have their place, but they don’t force you to be a good shooter. Having a lot of rounds in your gun doesn’t force you to be wasteful with them. These are issues of shooter discipline and training more than anything.
Here’s the thing. If you want to shoot off all 6 rounds in a double-action revolver, you can do so in short order. If you want to empty your bolt action rifle’s magazine without taking the time to ensure your hits, nothing is going to stop you. If you want to spend half an hour with each shot from your M1A’s 20-round magazine, there are no semiauto police who are going to come and yell at you for being too slow. How quickly and how accurately you shoot are entirely up to you.
This is why I think the myth persists. Inexperienced shooters often go to the range without any goals. They may throw an object out into the dirt in front of the berm and then just unload on it. They’re converting money to noise, not actually practicing marksmanship. For them, they will probably just jerk on the trigger until the gun goes click. Therefore, a larger magazine means they’ll waste more ammo than they would with a smaller one (they’re actually probably going to shoot up all the ammo they brought out, regardless of how much the gun holds at a time, but that’s neither here nor there). For those people, they’re going to waste whatever ammo they bring to the range with them regardless of which gun they bring out with them. For people who go to the range with a specific set of goals or at least a general idea of something to work on, this isn’t as big of an issue. I also think it’s less of a problem for people who shoot regularly, since there is a point when just doing “finger move and then a big noise happens” gets a little dull.
So how do you avoid being one of the wasteful ones? Go to the range with some ideas of what you want to work on. It could be a specific drill, it could be just working your fundamentals, it could by working the kinks out of your grip with a new gun, or whatever else you want. Just try not to go there with the goal of firing off 100 rounds and going home. You can flush $20 without leaving your house, and it would mean more ammo for the rest of us. If you’re still new to shooting and you don’t know exactly what to do, just work on consistency. Try to grip the gun, stand and squeeze the trigger the same way every time. Practice loading and unloading your gun and your magazines (if applicable) so it becomes second nature. Bring out a paper plate with a small dot on it and try to hit the dot. Bring a 3×5 card and try to keep all your shots on the card. Try shooting with just one hand or the other. Try shooting with both hands, but with your weak hand operating the trigger. Mix it up. You will never run out of things to work on with a gun, you just need to come up with a couple and give them a go.
So there you go. Don’t let someone scare you off of a semiauto with a higher capacity in the name of learning proper marksmanship. You can learn just as well with your 20-rounder as you can with a 5-rounder. It’s up to you to make sure your time at the range is productive instead of wasteful.