FRANKLIN — Franklin Revolver and Rifle Association held its 26th Women & Guns class when volunteer coaches and range safety officers hosted 23 women who were eager to learn firearms safety and handgun shooting. Guns, one-on-one coaching and the facility’s use were donated by the club’s members, while ammunition, targets and refreshments were paid for by a safety training grant from the National Rifle Association.
This is a service outreach to the community which is heartily supported by the gun club’s membership.
Franklin Borough native and National Pistol Champion John Heller gave a one-hour lecture on firearms safety and basic pistol marksmanship. The class learned and practiced safe handgun usage by treating the guns with respect, keeping the muzzles (barrels) pointed in a safe direction and keeping fingers off of the triggers until ready to shoot — among other safety rules. Fundamentals of handgun shooting included stance, breathing, sight picture, trigger squeeze and a follow-up pause after every shot.
Hearing and eye protection are mandatory. The guns are .22 caliber Long Rifle semi-automatic target pistols although revolvers may also be used. These handguns are designed primarily for competitive and recreational use as opposed to hunting or self-defense. Sights on the guns are either basic open iron sights or electronic sights with illuminated reticles, or "red dots." Two magazines are loaded with five rounds each and 10 shots are fired before making the shooting line safe and going downrange to evaluate, score and repair the targets.
Strict discipline is exercised at all times. At the end of each 10-shot group guns are opened, unloaded and untouched so that shooters may go forward of the firing line. Yellow plastic safety flags are inserted into the guns during this period to clearly illustrate that the firearms have been made harmless. All participants then step away from the shooting bench and go behind a yellow safety line before the line is made safe to proceed forward to the target line. Range Safety Officers make sure all shooting activities are conducted without danger to anyone.
Franklin Revolver and Rifle Association's 25-yard shooting range stops bullets with steel plates and a granite wall. The 60-grain bullets travel at about 1,200 feet per second. Sixty shots per shooter were fired over the course of the afternoon. After a half-day of training all graduates left with a solid beginner’s foundation on the safe handling of a handgun and as promised, all had a lot of fun as well.
Dawn Siek of Stockholm won top honors in the electronic illuminated red dot sighting category by scoring 95 and 97 out of a possible 100 points. Her coach Mark Jenkins took her step by step from familiarization of the gun, dry firing with an empty gun and finally shooting live ammunition.
Top Gun was Virginia Tomala of Wantage with a score of 95 in the open iron sight category. This is the most challenging sight system as there are three points of sight alignment — the target, the front sight and the rear sight which must be precisely coordinated to create a proper sight picture for an accurate shot. She was coached in performing the fundamentals of marksmanship by Bob Leach.
Women & Guns Training Director George Ambrose was assisted by Bill Haas as head coach and John Heller as lecturer. Bob Uzzalino recruited the highly qualified club members to serve as coaches while Don and Charlotte Richard led the Buildings and Grounds crew’s facility preparation for class day.