By Lars Dalseide | November 5 2012 16:46

Military experience and NRA Programs are "a great combination"

NRA's Education & Training Department received a call earlier today from Lieutenant Colonel (Ret.) William Bither, the Director of Corps Marksmanship and NCAA Rifle Coach for the Virginia Military Institute. Colonel wanted to share a story from their communications department regarding an NRA Basic Pistol course he held last month on the North Post firing range.

Sgt. 1st Class Chris Bean instructs participants on the use of the Ruger .22 cal. pistols. Photo courtesy of VMI. Firing Range the Venue for Basic Pistol Course
By John Robertson IV

LEXINGTON, Virginia – VMI employees and cadets made good use of the North Post firing range Oct. 13 as Lt. Col. Bill Bither and Sergeants 1st Class Chris Bean and Carmelo Echevarria offered the NRA Basic Pistol Course.

“The basic pistol course is an eight-hour course. We have several instructors here that are certified through the NRA, and I’m working to certify more instructors to make the program even better,” said Bither. “We’ve had pretty good turnout from faculty and staff who’ve come to learn about the responsibilities of owning and operating firearms.”

With an emphasis on safety, the course offers basic information on all aspects of owning a firearm, from firing technique to cleaning and maintenance.

“With what we’re doing in the pistol course, you’re getting all the instruction on how to safely handle and operate a pistol,” said Bither. “That includes the different actions, different types of malfunctions that could occur, types of ammunition, and the fundamentals of pistol marksmanship. Then we top it all off with a practical exercise on a live-fire range.”

The live-fire exercise is conducted using two pistols. A .22 caliber Ruger is fired first to build confidence since the smaller round produces very little recoil. Students then move up to the 9mm Beretta M-9, the standard pistol used by U.S. military forces.

“After the students come through and take the course, it doesn’t stop there,” said Bither. “We’re offering open range opportunities every other Thursday in the fall, where faculty, staff, and cadets can come up on their own and shoot.”

These activities are being supported by VMI’s range safety officers: faculty, staff, and cadets who have been trained to safely supervise firing range activities through another NRA course.

Clare Kingsley fires a Beretta 9mm as her shooter partner, Benton Roe '13, looks on. Photo courtesy of VMI.

Read the full story on Firing Range the Venue for Basic Pistol Course on the VMI website.

If this sounds like a good way to spend a weekend or an afternoon, check out our website,, for a list of classes and instructors in your area.


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