Introductory Shotgun Part 1 is an evaluation in the store at a cost of $100 per 1 person or $150 for 2 people.

A deposit of $50.00 is required per person for each class. Deposit must be received prior to class confirmation.

Class Limit: 1-2 Students
Course Hours: 1
Course Prerequisites: None
Equipment Required: Serviceable and acceptable shotgun. Hearing and eye protection.
Minimum Classroom Age: 12
Minimum Firing Range Age: 12 with presence of parent or legal guardian

Prior to going to the range, the student will come to Thunderbolt Guns (for approximately 1 hour or longer if required) to be evaluated for eye dominance and to learn principles behind shotgunning. Student will be shown proper grip, stance and mounting of shotgun, and will perform repetitions until technique is mastered under supervision of an instructor. Student will be strongly encouraged to continue the repetitions at home prior to attending Part 2.
Introductory Shotgun Part 2 is a live fire exercise at a local shotgun range. The class is provided at a cost of $150 per 1 person for up to 4 people. Cost includes range fees, targets, and shot shells.

A deposit of $50.00 is required per person for each class. Deposit must be received prior to class confirmation.

Class Limit: 2-4 Students
Course Hours: 2
Course Prerequisites: Introductory Shotgun Part 1
Equipment Required: Serviceable and acceptable shotgun. Hearing and eye protection.
Minimum Firing Range Age: 12 with presence of parent or legal guardian


Students will participate in a live fire exercise shooting clay targets at a local shotgun range.

Visit our FORUM to view a video that will illustrate this experience.
Sporting Shotgun classes are provided at a cost of $150.00 per 1 person or $80 each for 2 or more. Student is responsible for cost of ammunition, range fees and clay targets.

Full payment for class must be received to confirm class registration.

Class Limit: 1-4 Students
Course Hours: 3
Course Prerequisites: Introductory Shotgun Parts 1&2, or prior approval of instructor.
Equipment Required: Serviceable and fully functioning shotgun. 150 shot shells. Hearing and eye protection.
Minimum Classroom Age: 12
Minimum Firing Range Age: 12 with presence of parent or legal guardian

This course is privately instructed by Dale Bouchillon. He gears each class to the ability and needs of each student. This course is taught outdoors - please note the course prerequisites above.
Basic Defensive Shotgun classes are provided at a cost of $200.00 per 1 person.

A deposit of $100.00 is required per person for each class. Deposit must be confirmed prior to class confirmation.

Class Limit: 1-6 Students
Course Hours: 4
Course Prerequisites: Safety Lecture
Equipment Required: 
  1. Long Pants with Belt Loops and Stiff belt, long sleeve shirt and appropriate footwear
  2. Eye and Ear Protection
  3. Sidesaddle mounted on Shotgun
  4. Sling for Shotgun, preferably single point
  5. Shot Shells – 10 Rounds - Slugs, 10 Rounds - 00 Buck Shot, 200 Rounds - #7, 7.5, 8, or 9 Shot None

Minimum Classroom Age: 16
Minimum Firing Range Age: 16 with presence of parent or legal guardian

Course Description
  1. Safety Lecture,
  2. Shotgun Operation - Loading and Unloading Pump, Semi-Auto and Break-Open Defensive Shotguns using Dummy Rounds,
  3. Common Stoppages – Failure to Fire Drill; Failure to Feed; Double Feed,
  4. Test Fire Shotgun at Patterning Board, 25 Yards – Slugs, 00 Buck and Bird Shot,
  5. Shooting Drills – Basic Stance, Manipulation and Handling of Shotgun, Snap (Quick Acquisition) Shooting, Tactical Reloading Using Sidesaddle.
  6. Legal Considerations - use of deadly force
If you purchase your shotgun from Thunderbolt Guns, LLC, the cost of the course will be only $150.00.



By proadAccountId-382232 14 Oct, 2016

Honor never grows old, and honor rejoices the heart of age. It does so because honor is, finally, about defending those noble and worthy things that deserve defending, even if it comes at a high cost. In our time, that may mean social disapproval, public scorn, hardship, persecution, or as always, even death itself. The question remains: What is worth defending? What is worth dying for? What is worth living for? - William J. Bennett - in a lecture to the United States Naval Academy November 24, 1997

One Vietnam veteran, an old retired colonel, once said this to me:

 " Most of the people in our society are sheep. They are kind, gentle, productive creatures who can only hurt one another by accident ." This is true. Remember, the murder rate is six per 100,000 per year, and the aggravated assault rate is four per 1,000 per year. What this means is that the vast majority of Americans are not inclined to hurt one another. Some estimates say that two million Americans are victims of violent crimes every year, a tragic, staggering number, perhaps an all-time record rate of violent crime. But there are almost 300 million Americans, which means that the odds of being a victim of violent crime is considerably less than one in a hundred on any given year. Furthermore, since many violent crimes are committed by repeat offenders, the actual number of violent citizens is considerably less than two million.

Thus there is a paradox, and we must grasp both ends of the situation: We may well be in the most violent times in history, but violence is still remarkably rare. This is because most citizens are kind, decent people who are not capable of hurting each other, except by accident or under extreme provocation. They are sheep.

I mean nothing negative by calling them sheep. To me it is like the pretty, blue robin's egg. Inside it is soft and gooey but someday it will grow into something wonderful. But the egg cannot survive without its hard blue shell. Police officers, soldiers, and other warriors are like that shell, and someday the civilization they protect will grow into something wonderful. For now, though, they need warriors to protect them from the predators.

"Then there are the wolves," the old war veteran said, "and the wolves feed on the sheep without mercy." Do you believe there are wolves out there who will feed on the flock without mercy? You better believe it. There are evil men in this world and they are capable of evil deeds. The moment you forget that or pretend it is not so, you become a sheep. There is no safety in denial.

" Then there are sheepdogs, " he went on, " and I'm a sheepdog. I live to protect the flock and confront the wolf ."

If you have no capacity for violence then you are a healthy productive citizen, a sheep. If you have a capacity for violence and no empathy for your fellow citizens, then you have defined an aggressive sociopath, a wolf. But what if you have a capacity for violence, and a deep love for your fellow citizens? What do you have then? A sheepdog, a warrior, someone who is walking the hero's path. Someone who can walk into the heart of darkness, into the universal human phobia, and walk out unscathed.

Let me expand on this old soldier's excellent model of the sheep, wolves, and sheepdogs. We know that the sheep live in denial, which is what makes them sheep. They do not want to believe that there is evil in the world. They can accept the fact that fires can happen, which is why they want fire extinguishers, fire sprinklers, fire alarms and fire exits throughout their kids' schools.

But many of them are outraged at the idea of putting an armed police officer in their kid's school. Our children are thousands of times more likely to be killed or seriously injured by school violence than fire, but the sheep's only response to the possibility of violence is denial. The idea of someone coming to kill or harm their child is just too hard, and so they chose the path of denial.

The sheep generally do not like the sheepdog. He looks a lot like the wolf. He has fangs and the capacity for violence. The difference, though, is that the sheepdog must not, cannot and will not ever harm the sheep. Any sheep dog who intentionally harms the lowliest little lamb will be punished and removed. The world cannot work any other way, at least not in a representative democracy or a republic such as ours.

Still, the sheepdog disturbs the sheep. He is a constant reminder that there are wolves in the land. They would prefer that he didn't tell them where to go, or give them traffic tickets, or stand at the ready in our airports in camouflage fatigues holding an M-16. The sheep would much rather have the sheepdog cash in his fangs, spray paint himself white, and go, "Baa."

Until the wolf shows up. Then the entire flock tries desperately to hide behind one lonely sheepdog.

The students, the victims, at Columbine High School were big, tough high school students, and under ordinary circumstances they would not have had the time of day for a police officer. They were not bad kids; they just had nothing to say to a cop. When the school was under attack, however, and SWAT teams were clearing the rooms and hallways, the officers had to physically peel those clinging, sobbing kids off of them. This is how the little lambs feel about their sheepdog when the wolf is at the door.

Look at what happened after September 11, 2001 when the wolf pounded hard on the door. Remember how America, more than ever before, felt differently about their law enforcement officers and military personnel? Remember how many times you heard the word hero?

Understand that there is nothing morally superior about being a sheepdog; it is just what you choose to be. Also understand that a sheepdog is a funny critter: He is always sniffing around out on the perimeter, checking the breeze, barking at things that go bump in the night, and yearning for a righteous battle. That is, the young sheepdogs yearn for a righteous battle. The old sheepdogs are a little older and wiser, but they move to the sound of the guns when needed right along with the young ones.

Here is how the sheep and the sheepdog think differently. The sheep pretend the wolf will never come, but the sheepdog lives for that day. After the attacks on September 11, 2001, most of the sheep, that is, most citizens in America said, "Thank God I wasn't on one of those planes." The sheepdogs, the warriors, said, "Dear God, I wish I could have been on one of those planes. Maybe I could have made a difference." When you are truly transformed into a warrior and have truly invested yourself into warrior-hood, you want to be there. You want to be able to make a difference.

There is nothing morally superior about the sheepdog, the warrior, but he does have one real advantage. Only one. And that is that he is able to survive and thrive in an environment that destroys 98 percent of the population. There was research conducted a few years ago with individuals convicted of violent crimes. These cons were in prison for serious, predatory crimes of violence: assaults, murders and killing law enforcement officers. The vast majority said that they specifically targeted victims by body language: slumped walk, passive behavior and lack of awareness. They chose their victims like big cats do in Africa, when they select one out of the herd that is least able to protect itself.

Some people may be destined to be sheep and others might be genetically primed to be wolves or sheepdogs. But I believe that most people can choose which one they want to be, and I'm proud to say that more and more Americans are choosing to become sheepdogs.

Seven months after the attack on September 11, 2001, Todd Beamer was honored in his hometown of Cranbury, New Jersey. Todd, as you recall, was the man on Flight 93 over Pennsylvania who called on his cell phone to alert an operator from United Airlines about the hijacking. When he learned of the other three passenger planes that had been used as weapons, Todd dropped his phone and uttered the words, "Let's roll," which authorities believe was a signal to the other passengers to confront the terrorist hijackers. In one hour, a transformation occurred among the passengers - athletes, business people and parents. -- From sheep to sheepdogs and together they fought the wolves, ultimately saving an unknown number of lives on the ground.

" There is no safety for honest men except by believing all possible evil of evil men ." - Edmund Burke

Here is the point I like to emphasize, especially to the thousands of police officers and soldiers I speak to each year. In nature the sheep, real sheep, are born as sheep. Sheepdogs are born that way, and so are wolves. They didn't have a choice. But you are not a critter. As a human being, you can be whatever you want to be. It is a conscious, moral decision.

If you want to be a sheep, then you can be a sheep and that is okay, but you must understand the price you pay. When the wolf comes, you and your loved ones are going to die if there is not a sheepdog there to protect you. If you want to be a wolf, you can be one, but the sheepdogs are going to hunt you down and you will never have rest, safety, trust or love. But if you want to be a sheepdog and walk the warrior's path, then you must make a conscious and moral decision every day to dedicate, equip and prepare yourself to thrive in that toxic, corrosive moment when the wolf comes knocking at the door.

For example, many officers carry their weapons in church. They are well concealed in ankle holsters, shoulder holsters or inside-the-belt holsters tucked into the small of their backs. Anytime you go to some form of religious service, there is a very good chance that a police officer in your congregation is carrying. You will never know if there is such an individual in your place of worship, until the wolf appears to massacre you and your loved ones.

I was training a group of police officers in Texas, and during the break, one officer asked his friend if he carried his weapon in church. The other cop replied, "I will never be caught without my gun in church." I asked why he felt so strongly about this, and he told me about a cop he knew who was at a church massacre in Ft. Worth, Texas in 1999. In that incident, a mentally deranged individual came into the church and opened fire, gunning down fourteen people. He said that officer believed he could have saved every life that day if he had been carrying his gun. His own son was shot, and all he could do was throw himself on the boy's body and wait to die. That cop looked me in the eye and said, "Do you have any idea how hard it would be to live with yourself after that?"

Some individuals would be horrified if they knew this police officer was carrying a weapon in church. They might call him paranoid and would probably scorn him. Yet these same individuals would be enraged and would call for "heads to roll" if they found out that the airbags in their cars were defective, or that the fire extinguisher and fire sprinklers in their kids' school did not work. They can accept the fact that fires and traffic accidents can happen and that there must be safeguards against them.

Their only response to the wolf, though, is denial, and all too often their response to the sheepdog is scorn and disdain. But the sheepdog quietly asks himself, "Do you have any idea how hard it would be to live with yourself if your loved ones attacked and killed, and you had to stand there helplessly because you were unprepared for that day?"

It is denial that turns people into sheep. Sheep are psychologically destroyed by combat because their only defense is denial, which is counterproductive and destructive, resulting in fear, helplessness and horror when the wolf shows up.

Denial kills you twice. It kills you once, at your moment of truth when you are not physically prepared: you didn't bring your gun, you didn't train. Your only defense was wishful thinking. Hope is not a strategy. Denial kills you a second time because even if you do physically survive, you are psychologically shattered by your fear helplessness and horror at your moment of truth.

Gavin de Becker puts it like this in Fear Less, his superb post-9/11 book, which should be required reading for anyone trying to come to terms with our current world situation: "...denial can be seductive, but it has an insidious side effect. For all the peace of mind deniers think they get by saying it isn't so, the fall they take when faced with new violence is all the more unsettling."

Denial is a save-now-pay-later scheme, a contract written entirely in small print, for in the long run, the denying person knows the truth on some level.

And so the warrior must strive to confront denial in all aspects of his life, and prepare himself for the day when evil comes. If you are warrior who is legally authorized to carry a weapon and you step outside without that weapon, then you become a sheep, pretending that the bad man will not come today. No one can be "on" 24/7, for a lifetime. Everyone needs down time. But if you are authorized to carry a weapon, and you walk outside without it, just take a deep breath, and say this to yourself...

" Baa. "

This business of being a sheep or a sheep dog is not a yes-no dichotomy. It is not an all-or-nothing, either-or choice. It is a matter of degrees, a continuum. On one end is an abject, head-in-the-sand-sheep and on the other end is the ultimate warrior. Few people exist completely on one end or the other. Most of us live somewhere in between. Since 9-11 almost everyone in America took a step up that continuum, away from denial. The sheep took a few steps toward accepting and appreciating their warriors, and the warriors started taking their job more seriously. The degree to which you move up that continuum, away from sheephood and denial, is the degree to which you and your loved ones will survive, physically and psychologically at your moment of truth.

Ref: LTC (RET) Dave Grossman , Author of "On Killing.".

By proadAccountId-382232 13 Oct, 2016

Starting January 1, 2013 Probate Court will only accept credit card, debit cards, cash, money orders or cashier's checks in the exact amount for Marriage Licenses and Pistol Permits. Probate Court does not accept checks for Marriage Licenses and Pistol Permits.

Please call the clerks at (912) 447-4853 and (912) 652-7264 for probates and all other fees. For guardianships and conservatorships the number is (912) 652-7367.


To apply for a firearms license in this court, you must be 21 years of age or older and be a resident of Chatham County. If the applicant is AT LEAST 18, has completed basic training in the armed forces of the United States AND provides proof that he or she is actively serving or has been honorably discharged they may be issued a license if no other prohibitors apply.

If you are between the ages of 18 and 21, the following documents are required for application: an active duty ID card, copy of orders to Hunter Army Airfield or proof of residency in Chatham County, and documentation showing completion of basic training.

1. You must present:

  1. A photo I.D. and

  2. Proof of your present Chatham County address.

2. All permits will be sent to you by mail.

3. If the permit is denied, there is NO Refund.

4. Replacement fee for a lost permit is $6.00.

5. Information on gun safety classes is available by contacting the Chatham County Sheriff's Office or the Savannah-Chatham Metro Police Department.

The Weapons Carry Application Process is a Two-Part Process


  • All applicants must complete an application in the Probate Court.
  • The Probate Court is located in Room 509 in the Chatham County Courthouse at 133 Montgomery Street, Savannah, Georgia. [ Map & Directions ]
  • The application fee is thirty-seven dollars ($37.00)
  • This may be either exact cash or money order or cashier’s check (payable to Chatham County Probate Court)


  • All applicants must be fingerprinted and have a background check.
  • The fee for the fingerprint/background check is $51.00. This is payable either by money order or cashier’s check (payable to Cogent Systems GAPS) for phone registration. Credit or debit cards may be used for on-line registration.
  • The information for the fingerprint process will be given to the applicant when they complete an application in the Probate Court.
  • The permit is valid for five (5) years. The cost of a renewal is $37.00. Payments will only be accepted if they are credit card, debit card, EXACT cash, money order, or cashier's check. No other forms of payment will be accepted.
  • Applications made 90 days prior to the expiration of the current license or within 30 days after expiration of the previous license shall be considered renewal licenses according to the guidance document.
  • Applications made by a license holder whose current or previous license was issued by another county will NOT be considered a renewal application, but will be a new application.
  • The applicant MUST undergo a fingerprint based check in the new county.
  • If you are applying for a renewal the following documents are required for application: Driver's license or state ID card issued by Chatham County, and your old permit.
By proadAccountId-382232 12 Oct, 2016

1. Women learn differently from men

It’s no secret that male and female brains differ in key ways. Generally speaking, men have spatial relationships, which means they can easily understand multiple shapes within a given space. Women have verbal relationships, which suggests that women use different strategies for spatial visualization tasks, namely through conversation.

In short, women take directions very literally.

When asking women where they aligned their front sight when shooting a target, 85 percent answered that they put it above the target’s shoulder, and most couldn’t explain why.

In most cases, women weren’t taught their line of sight needed to line up with the front and back sights of the firearm and the target.

‘Watch the front sight,’ for example, taken literally means just that. She’s watching the front sight, and not the target through the front sight.

A good instructor will think carefully about how they word directions, and will adjust their technique to make sure that they’re speaking clearly and literally.

2. Guns are not one-size-fits all

Both men and women with smaller hands are often handed a gun simply too large for them to comfortably grip.

Students who either switched to or had the option of using 9mm versus .40 caliber handguns saw drastic improvements among women and some men because of the decrease in the recoil.

Adjustable and interchangeable grips can also make a huge difference for women. Also, switching to a youth stock when you’re using shotguns is helpful. Mossberg for one, has an adjustable stock that can be made very short.

When the firearm is so large that the female is adjusting her grip to reach the trigger, she’s no longer able to provide backstop for the recoil energy. If pulling the trigger each time is causing physical pain, her focus may shift from remembering what she’s learned, to pulling the trigger as quickly as possible to get the pain over with. As a result, shooting isn’t viewed as an enjoyable experience and it’s not something she’ll be eager to keep doing (especially on her own time).

If the gun is too big, the slide often fails to cycle because of that left over energy from reaching for the trigger. When this happens, instructors often assume it’s caused by limp-wristing , when that’s not necessarily the case.

3. Male instructors fear getting "hands-on"

Firearms training is tactical in the most literal sense. Sometimes, you need to be physically moving your trainee. Male firearms instructors are often too timid to do this with women because they fear invading a woman’s space and making her uncomfortable

The solution? Talk to them about it. Women can see that you’re also physically moving men’s bodies into position. It’s a necessary part of the job that can and should be done in a professional manner and without having to jump thought hoops or fearing retaliation.

4. Many women just have less interest in shooting

This by no means applies to all women, but some simply don’t find the concept of shooting interesting or comfortable. But if you can get down to the bottom of why it doesn’t pique her interest, it may be a simple fix.

First, explaining exactly how a firearm works makes the subject more engaging. As mentioned before, women tend to be verbal and literal. If they know all the moving parts to a firearm and what makes it function and dysfunction, she’s more apt to take an interest in it.

Telling her things like "If you line up your eyes, your sights, the target, and pull the trigger smoothly, you will hit your target every single time" is going to build her confidence and push her to keep at it.

5. Trainers don’t adjust their approach

This isn’t to say that the flaw lies within the instructor, but all parties and the approach must be examined when determining what is keeping the trainee from excelling.

One issue is the discontinuity that happens when there are multiple firearms instructors. Hopefully your methods are uniform, but is your language? Again, women are verbal, so saying the same thing two different ways can come across as hearing two different things.

The easiest solution to prevent this is to train with other instructors to ensure your instructions are equal and you’re using the same terminology.

As a male firearms instructor used to teaching other men, who learn like you do, teaching a woman who requires different teaching methods can get frustrating. But exhibiting that frustration is going to do several things: It’s going to make her frustrated, it’s going to crush her self-confidence, and it may cause her to decide this is never something she’s going to be good at.

Learning doesn’t always mean retaining. If you have to start instructions at step one each time she comes to the range, then you haven’t taught her anything. Reinforce what you’ve told her by having her repeat it back to you.

Make a checklist of steps and have her repeat them:

  1. 1) Adjust your grip
  2. 2) Get your sights lined up with your eyes and the target
  3. 3) Press the trigger straight and flat back
  4. 4) Trigger reset (if you teach trigger reset)
  5. 5) Bring the sights back into view

6. Some are intimidated by the overwhelming man-to-woman ratio

Ever wonder why there are "just for women" gyms? This might come as a shock to you, but being surrounded by hyped-up men, especially in a situation where you already feel inferior, is a less-than-ideal situation. It may even be downright terrifying.

Why not host a "ladies’ night" at the range? Firearms instructors who said their local gun ranges had women-only nights saw a great turnout, the women didn’t feel the pressure, and they actually performed better.

7. There’s a lack of female camaraderie

Some women are competitive by nature, and that’s not a bad thing. It’s competition that pushes us to be better. But what happens when your firearms instructor is a female, and sees you as competition rather than as a teammate? PoliceOne columnists Nancy Fatura discusses this cutthroat environment and how to overcome it in her column "How not to sabotage your sisters in blue."

We are all on the same side, fighting the same evil. Use your peers as motivation to improve but hold yourself as your greatest competitor.

Most importantly, as you become more proficient, try to remember what it felt like to have (or not have) a female role model to look up to, and inhibit the characteristics you think will most help your trainees.

If all this sounds like a generalization, it’s because it is. Of course there are women who excel in firearms training as fast as or faster than men, and there are men that take more time than others. In fact, 85 percent of women aimed above the target’s shoulder, 15 percent of men asked the same question gave the same answer.

By proadAccountId-382232 11 Oct, 2016

Handguns are one of the most flexible and portable platforms available to the modern shooter. But with the vast number of options available, ranging from tiny pocket pistols to massive hunting revolvers, choosing the first one can be intimidating for someone new to the sport.

Here are a few tips to help save you time, money and frustration when making a first-time handgun purchase:

1. Identify the Handgun's Primary Purpose
Some handgun models can fill multiple roles while others are specialized for certain tasks. Are you looking for a handgun that will be carried concealed on a daily basis or to be stored in a lock box near the bed for home defense? Will it be used for plinking at tin cans or does it need to have competition-grade features and accuracy? If it's a revolver for hunting, should it be chambered for ammunition that's appropriate for small, medium or large game? Having a clear idea of how a pistol or revolver will be used most of the time will serve to narrow the options down to a reasonable number and help the sales staff of your local gun shop to understand which models best fit your need.

2. Shop Around for the Best Price
When the right handgun for your needs is in stock at your local gun shop, how do you know if you're getting a good deal? The Internet makes price checking a much easier process than it used to be. Start by finding the manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP) on the company website. This posted price is usually a little higher than what most dealers will charge for new merchandise. If a gun's price tag is marked with a dollar amount that’s the same or higher than the MSRP, then there is a good chance you can find a better deal elsewhere. The exception to the MSRP rule of thumb is when there is a high demand for a particular model (as there was for AR-15s for a couple of years). In cases like this, plan on seeing prices that are higher, sometimes much higher than MSRP.

Run a search for the model you have in mind to see a full range of prices from around the country. An important thing to remember with online pricing is that the numbers shown at the top of the listing may not include the shipping and transfer fees shown at the bottom of the listing. If adding up all the costs brings the price of an online purchase close to that of your local shop, then you might as well buy locally and help keep your home town shop up and running.

3. Avoid ‘Mystery Metal’ Handguns
There is a tremendous temptation to save as much money as possible when buying a gun because, let's face it, they are expensive. But even though they can seem like a good deal at the time, cheaply constructed knock-offs with strange names and components constructed of unidentifiable metals are rarely a good investment. For example, an associate of mine picked up a little pocket semi-auto that looked just like a better-known name-brand version. I hadn't heard of the manufacturer before, so I looked up the company online. It took some digging to find out that the small caliber pistol in question was a collector’s item, though not in a good way. The company only produced about 5,000 guns before going out of business because their pistol frames demonstrated a tendency to chip and crack in a most inconvenient manner. So now he owns an interesting piece of shooting industry history that is of no practical use to him. Always do your homework before laying down cash for a gun.

4. Be Careful Buying Used Handguns, Especially For Self-Defense
Shopping for used handguns can be a great way to save money but it has to be done cautiously. Some used guns are sold to fund a new gun's purchase or because the owner needs the cash. Despite a bit of wear and tear, or a few scratches, these are the trustworthy gems that have plenty of life left in them for a reasonable price. But some used guns are pawned off or traded in because they are lemons. Most reputable shops have someone on staff who is qualified to give used guns a function check before taking them into their inventory. But several problems can slip past a visual inspection, including poor accuracy, ammunition reliability issues, and malfunctioning internal components.

If you are going to buy a used handgun, especially for self-defense, then learn how to function-check the firearm you have in mind or lean on the skills of a gun geek you can trust. If the used pistol or revolver is given a clean bill of health at the gun shop, then find out what the return policy is before you buy it. Some dealers will allow for a refund or full trade-in value if one of their used guns turns out to be a lemon. Others follow a strict as-is, you-bought-it-you-own-it policy. Before shooting any used firearm, it should be dismantled, inspected, cleaned and lubricated according to the manufacturer's instructions. If it passes this inspection, it should then be test-fired thoroughly with practice and defense-grade ammunition. If it performs reliably on the range, then it is ready to be cleaned once more and then carried or staged for self-defense.

5. Look for Handguns Chambered in Common Calibers
Although ammunition shortages come and go, there are handgun calibers that will always be hard to find or expensive to buy no matter what the state of the shooting market may be. Exploring the nuances and history of obscure, antique, or hard-to-find calibers of handgun ammunition can be an enjoyable hobby for seasoned shooters. But for new handgun owners, who are still learning the ropes, it makes sense to stick to common calibers that are readily available in less expensive practice-grade loads as well as high-grade rounds for hunting or defensive applications. When the guy at the gun counter hands you a gun to examine, don't be shy about asking for more information related to the ammunition's cost and availability.

6. Trust What Your Hands Are Telling You
The shooting community is rife with opinions (many of which are conflicting) as to which are the “best" handguns and the “right” calibers to own. In truth, what feels like a good fit to one gun buyer will be a poor fit to someone else. One of the primary reasons for all of this debate is differences in each shooter’s hand shape, size and strength. Small and svelte grips feel awkward in big hands while chunky grips feel awkward in smaller ones. The controls, like the magazine release and safety, may be too widely spaced to be manipulated, or may be rubbing up against a knuckle because they are too close together.

Gun-to-hand compatibility is also an important factor in managing felt recoil. A poor grip fit can result in a shooter's hands feeling tired or sore in a short period of time. So trust what your hands tell you. If a handgun feels lousy or is hard to operate in the gun shop, it's not going to feel or run any better on the shooting range. The best way to avoid grip and control fit problems is to go to a range that rents guns and try before you buy.

7. Take Your Time
As I look back over two decades of handgun purchases and trades, the transactions that I regret the most are those that were made in haste. I was in too much of a hurry to take advantage of what seemed like a bargain at the time or to trade in what I already had (at a loss) to buy what I wanted next. After discussing some of these disappointing gun purchases with my older brother, he shared this bit of sage advice: “The next time you're in a hurry, just remember that the deal of the century happens every day." And he was right. Over the years, patience and pre-purchase preparation have paid off far more often than packing a quick-draw wallet to the gun shop. There will always be another good deal or a better buy down the road but it's usually an expensive proposition to un-buy a gun you don't like.

By proadAccountId-382232 10 Oct, 2016

I was at the range the other day and after shooting a few hundred rounds at the silhouette targets about 40 feet away I noticed that the thumb and wrist of my dominant shooting hand was aching and throbbing. I had noticed slight shooting pains in my thumb earlier in the week when I was using tools and then doing some light curls with the weights in my home gym but didn’t think much about it at the time.

When I got home it was still hurting so I rubbed some Aspercreme on my wrist, the pain subsided and I thought no more about it. But the next day the pain returned and I thought I should probably go see about it. A week later in the doctor’s office I received a stunning diagnosis! I had arthritis! My first thought was that arthritis is an "old" person’s disease and I’m not old. Then another shocker. The doctor asked me how old I was.

In my mind I thought, "Holy crap, I’m 66 years old! Does that qualify me as ‘old’?" Then the doctor confirmed it by saying, "As a senior citizen you have to expect these things. As our body ages lots of changes take place and arthritis is quite common in people of your age." Gee thanks Doc, I didn’t know that. Actually I just didn’t realize, or more likely just didn’t want to admit, that I now fell into the senior citizen demographic. With that realization I went home and applied on-line for Social Security.

"It’s not the age, it’s the mileage," said Indiana Jones. In my case, it’s probably also a lack of maintenance. For my part, I really am happy to have made it this long; it’s the decrepitude, not the age that bothers me. I have finally accepted that I am getting old. I don’t know when it happened but one day I went from the young kid to the man everyone addresses as "sir". There is only a hint of gray around the sides of my head and most everybody thinks I’m about 10 years younger than I am. I took an IQ test online and actually tested at the genius range. Since the test, my wife says I am unbearable to live with now. So my mind is not going but rather I am just having memory problems experienced by most people as they age. It may take me longer to remember something but I eventually remember it. As my doctor explained, forgetting where you parked your car is normal for someone my age. Forgetting you own the car is a serious problem. So enough about me and let’s talk guns. Now that I am a genius I am able to figure out what I have to do to accommodate my advancing years and minor medical issues. I would like to share my thoughts with others who are aging or even those with medical problems which affect their shooting activities.

The most important factor is if you can load/unload and shoot the gun comfortably and safely. Consider the following when in the market for a gun:

  1. Ease of trigger pull
  2. Grip strength
  3. Recoil
  4. Ease of operation
  5. Accuracy

1. Ease of Trigger Pull

If you have arthritis, pain, or loss of strength in the hands, racking the slide of a semi-automatic handgun can be difficult, or even impossible. Though semi-automatic handguns, especially those configured like a  GLOCK, have the lightest trigger pulls, do not rule out a revolver. Revolvers tend to have harder trigger pulls, but a good gunsmith, or even the gun’s manufacturer can do custom trigger jobs on a revolver to create a lighter trigger pull. An alternative to the revolver, if you want a semi-automatic handgun, is to look at tip-up barrel models, such as the Beretta 86FS Cheetah.

2. Grip Strength

The gun you chose should not put any strain on you when you raise it. Further, shooting the gun must be comfortable. If you buy a gun and find it uncomfortable to shoot, you will be less likely to practice with it, which is necessary for responsible gun ownership. Be mindful of the gun’s overall weight when loaded. Many polymer-framed handguns are lightweight, such as the GLOCK 26 or the S&W M&P. A good choice would be guns with different size backstraps, so you can find one comfortable for you. I would suggest rubber grips over wood grips. Rubber grips provide more comfort and a surer grip when shooting a lot of rounds.

3. Recoil

Smaller, shorter barreled guns have more recoil than guns with a longer barrel. Recoil should be manageable for quick, accurate follow-up shots. 9mm is generally, in my opinion, manageable. A snub-nose .38 is painful. Of course, .22 Long Rifle, .32 ACP, and .25 ACP barely even kick. There are tons of arguments about calibers for self-defense, but Bruce N. Eimer, PH.D in " Arthritis and Choosing a Defensive Handgun " writes about the merits of .380, accurate shot placement is more important than caliber. A center hit with a small caliber is better than a miss with a larger one." So pick what caliber you can shoot repeatedly without causing pain. It is suggested for senior citizens to shoot reduced-recoil loads and chose to shoot the non +P if your gun is +P rated. I have a short-barreled S&W in .38 Special +P-rated, but I shoot normal .38 Special ammunition in it. It still offers the same stopping power.

4. Ease of Operation

As I mentioned above, operating the slide, which loads the first bullet into the chamber and prepares the gun for shooting, may be impossible to operate for some users. A revolver is easy, and pretty fail-safe. Some revolvers that are single-action require you to cock a hammer back for each trigger pull. Other revolvers operate in double-action, which do not require the cocking of a hammer at all. Double-action revolvers are preferable to single-action for a self-defense gun. Some revolvers are hammerless, these types are just point and shoot. Of course, in times of high stress, this might be the best choice. If a semi-automatic handgun is your favored choice, then pick one with simple to use controls. Make sure you can load, unload, change magazines, operate any safeties, and disassemble the gun for cleaning easily. Many modern day polymer-framed pistols have very few controls, and zero complicated safeties.

5. Accuracy

Using iron sights might cause a problem, if you have degeneration in your eyes, trying to focus on both the front and rear sight and the distant target will be difficult. Many guns, both semi-automatic and revolvers offer laser sight models. If you find a gun you like without a laser, most will accommodate an after-market laser that is easy to install on your chosen gun. Laser sights line up with bullet’s trajectory and help you in quick aim and bullet placement. Some pistols will accommodate a flashlight and a laser, aiding in your vision further. In addition, there are high-visibility sights you can add to any gun that utilize tritium that naturally glows in the dark without needing sunlight to charge.

Some Thoughts for First Time Buyers.

By proadAccountId-382232 05 Oct, 2016

Nobody wants to be a victim of crime. The best defense is preparation and training. Proper training will give you the knowledge, skills and attitude to survive.

Why should you get defensive firearms training?

Because on the worst day of your life, when your life or the lives of people you care about are on the line, without proper training, you’re not going to rise to the occasion. You’re going to fall to your lowest level of performance which just might find you freezing up at a critical moment.

Reaction time is key in any life-or-death situation. Effectively drawing, presenting and firing a handgun can be the difference between protecting loved ones or a lifetime of regret. Just owning a firearm is a weighty responsibility, but proficiency doesn’t come from ownership. Having the proper weapon is just the first step in surviving a deadly assault. Proficiency in the use of your weapon comes through learning the proper skill set through training and the mastering that skill set by driving it into your subconscious and muscle memory by perfect, repetitive practice...

  REMEMBER: Contrary to conventional wisdom, practice does not make perfect. PERFECT PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT!

Using a firearm to defend life and liberty is a right, but it is the responsibility of the user to be ever vigilant and always aware. Defensive training conditions us to evade dangerous situations and react instinctively and effectively when they can’t be avoided. After all, in a life-or-death situation, there is no second-place winner.

By proadAccountId-382232 05 Oct, 2016

For well over a hundred years, the National Rifle Association has been at the forefront in training law-abiding citizens in the safe and proper use of firearms. If you shoot bullseye targets with handguns, the Six Fundamentals of Marksmanship are critical for accuracy. They are as follows:

  1. Body Position
  2. Shot Preparation & Grip
  3. Sight Alignment
  4. Breath Control
  5. Trigger Control
  6. Follow Through

Aligning the sights properly to get a precise sight picture and maintaining that sight picture while pressing the trigger and firing the shot is critical to accuracy. If your handgun shoots to point of aim and you can press the trigger without disturbing the sight picture, you will hit the intended target every time. As many of us have learned, this is much easier said than done. Precise accuracy is difficult enough under normal target shooting conditions when the shooter calls the shot and has time to prepare. It is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to achieve that level of accuracy while you are responding to being attacked by deadly force.

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