Joe Mantegna preparing to shoot the Outdoor Channel's Gun Stories at the National Firearms Museum
Actor Joe Mantegna shooting a segment of Gun Stories at the NRA.

Fairfax, Virginia - Joe Mantegna's first trip to the National Firearms Museum occurred almost a year ago today. Along with Michael Bane and the Outdoor Channel crew, he was here to shoot segments of the soon to be debuted television show Gun Stories. Fast forward eleven months and a couple of Golden Moose awards later, Joe and the crew are back at the NRA for season two.

"Today (Monday the 14th) we're going to start with the Thompson Machine Gun, the Garand and the Luger," said Director Tim Cremin. "Later in the week we'll move on to your Hollywood Guns exhibit and maybe get a look in the museum vault."

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Mike Tagliapietra likes the AR-15 and shoots it well on NRAblog. This weekend's NRAblog Rewind comes courtesy of Art Merrill, a freelance writer for "Shooting Illustrated," as he completes his series from Disabled Shooting's 2010 Open Range Day in Phoenix, Arizona.

Phoenix, Arizona - Saturday morning's safety briefing was the no-nonsense, all-business dialogue we're used to hearing from match directors and rangemasters – except for the “sip & puff” part:

“Always always always keep the gun pointed in a safe direction! Keep your finger away from the trigger until you're ready to shoot. If you're using the sip & puff trigger mechanism, don't put it your mouth 'til you're ready to shoot. If you need help, if you have a question, don't be stubborn - ask a volunteer. Keep them busy.”

After that, it was pretty much all fun in the desert sun.

The air rifles appealed to a lot of shooters today, and not just because it was indoors, sheltered from the 95-degree desert spring. Every shooter enjoys hitting reactive targets, in this case, air rifle metallic silhouette targets. But there are other reasons, as well.

“I don't like loud bangs,” Ashleigh Justice said. “I liked the .22 pistol, but the .38 was too much.”

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NRA's John Howard training at Gunsite Academy Paulden, Arizona - Staff from NRA’s Training Department headed West last month to participate in cross-training with Gunsite. John Howard (pictured), Andy Lander, and Sean Thornton made the trip to the Gunsite Academy in Paulden, Arizona where they conducted NRA Certified Instructor Courses for Pistol, Rifle, and Shotgun for nine Gunsite Instructors. In exchange, the three attended the Gunsite Defensive Pistol 250 course.

It all started when NRA Board of Director and Gunsite owner Buz Mills discussed cross-training opportunities with Bill Poole, Director of NRA’s Education & Training Division.

“We knew that this would be a fantastic opportunity for Gunsite and NRA to come together and examine the evolution of firearms training – from where it’s been, to where it is now and how we can look to the future,” said Poole.

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Wickenburg, Arizona - After everyone went through American Firearms Training and Tactics' qualifying rounds in Precision Rifle, the top six shooters competed for the title of Top Shot. Here are clips of each performance as they shoot once from the standing, kneeling and sitting positions followed by two from the prone position.

In the end, with a final time of 32.13, the title went to Shawn Bray of the Prescott Police Department.

Shawn Bray wins Top Shot in AFTT's Precision Law Enforcement Rifle competition
Shawn Bray displays his "winnings" to taking the title of American Firearms Training and Tactics' Top Shot in Precision Law Enforcement Rifle.

After two days of training, shooters are tested on the range

Students lined up for their Precision Rifle qualifications
Students ready to fire at the 200 yard line during Precision Rifle qualifications.

Wickenburg, Arizona - Day three of my Law Enforcement Precision Rifle class was a big one. After a quick review of the lessons we learned, it was time for qualifications. The better you shoot, the higher your qualification. The prize, of course, is Distinguished Expert. Quite the lofty goal.

Unsure of where in the qualification ladder I would land, I took to the line confident that I’d land somewhere. All I had to do was remember the training. Keep focused, acquire the target, employ trigger control and fire. Then the American Firearms Training and Tactics crew announced the first stage.

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Shooting the Winmag from behind a barricade in Arizona

NRAblog Editor Lars Dalseide was in Arizona this week for a Precision Law Enforcement Rifle class. Now that he's back home in Northern Virginia, he still has plenty of stories to share about his training in the Grand Canyon State.

Wickenburg, Arizona - Not every shot is taken in the open. At American Firearms Training and Tactics' Law Enforcement Precision Rifle course, Lead Instructor Mark Fricke prepares his students for such encounters with customized barrier trees. From seven separate positions, four teams of seven shooters crawled with their .308s and ARs to the two different trees, careful of the muzzle, and fired on targets a mere 100 yards away.

Shooting a .308 rifle from supported cover in Arizona

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Developing more female NRA Certified Instructors has been a major goal of the Women's Programs Department these last few years. Many women want to learn to shoot and are looking for another woman to show them the ropes - that's where NRA's cadre of female instructors comes into play. Arizona's Amber Kunau recently joined that group, earning her certification as an NRA Certified Instructor. Amber shared her experience with NRAblog and explained what led her to get her certification and how she's using it to train others.

NRA Certified Instructor Amber Kunau Becoming an NRA Certified Instructor was something I had thought about frequently so when I saw classes listed at my local range (Rio Salado Sportsman’s Club) it seemed like the perfect time to jump in and get to work. I started with the Range Safety Officer (RSO) class done by Jim Neff of Generations Firearms in Mesa, Arizona. The RSO class taught by Jim was interactive, informative and fun. After the great experience I had in the RSO class, I knew that getting my instructor certification with Jim was going to be nothing less than a great experience and the knowledge I would take away would be invaluable to me as a firearms instructor. In fact, I enjoyed that class so much I signed up for several more and went on to get my instructor level training in Pistol, Personal Protection Inside The Home, and Personal Protection Outside The Home and still have upcoming instructor classes in my calendar for Rifle and Shotgun.

The biggest thing that I took away from these classes is that students learn by doing. A great instructor doesn’t just stand in front of the class and just talk. Instead, a great instructor gets the class involved in mock “real life” scenarios and great discussions which gets everyone thinking on their own and working hard for their certification. I also learned that a good attitude is an absolute necessity.

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Glass reacts differently when shot depending on grade or style

Wickenburg, Arizona - There's a lot more to shooting through glass then just pulling the trigger. The glass can redirect the bullet, shatter upon impact or even create an entirely new threat by way of shrapnel. To prove this point, American Firearms Training and Tactics owner Mark Fricke had us shooting through different grades of glass (windshield, window pane, glass doors, etc...) during out Law Enforcement Precision Rifle class to see what happens on impact.

Wickenburg, Arizona - When I heard there was a night shooting section of the class, my thoughts instantly jumped to images of night vision, tracer rounds and some sort of high tech voodoo that makes it all possible. I couldn't have been further from the truth.

As American Firearms Training and Tactics owner Mark Fricke demonstrated, all those high tech gadgets and gizmos look great in the movies, but they don't react like that in real life. Don't believe me? Then you should have been there for the demonstration.

While we were able to spot him with the night vision scope, figuring out what he held in hand was another story all together. Students were calling out "gun, gun" when in reality, as he later revealed, he was holding a water bottle, an empty box of ammo, a flashlight and few other incidental items. That's why he teaches his students to keep with the white light.

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