Today I was thinking about San Francisco and the time I spent there. These pictures were taken in the spring of 1999.
In the picture below from left to right is:
Enrique: Intelligence officer in the Navy reserves at the time; maybe he still is. He is now a law enforcement officer and a parent.
Mark: Later earned a grad degree in systems security and is now a professional in SF.
Bill: VP of engineering at Quokka Sports at the time. He is also a professional living in SF today. I sleep on a Duxiana bed once owned by Bill.
We used to enjoy pistol shooting and would do it once a week after work at a range. The routine would be to first eat at KFC, and then go to Jackson Arms in South San Francisco and shoot. If I remember correctly we each would shoot about 100 rounds.
Here is Bill checking in at the Jackson Arms. I like the targets in the background. They were for sale; you had to have targets to shoot at.
The men in the targets are all in 'challenging' positions and are armed. I would describe the expressions of the men in the targets as resigned. They had targets with armed women and children also.
The staff at the Jackson Arms got to know us quite well since we were a jocular bunch. Every shooter must first check in and identify themselves before entering the range. Sometimes we would buy ammo and rent a pistol if needed.
Incidentally, they will not rent a weapon to a lone shooter. People have been known to come into the range, rent a weapon, and then use it on themselves.
Enrique owned a Sig Sauer P228; it was the nominal weapon of his reserve unit. Here is Enrique... shooting.
Mark eventually had some big .44 revolver that required a lot of hand and arm strength to handle.
Bill had a very tasty Springfield Armory 1911.
And me... shooting.
I have to explain that I simply enjoyed target shooting. I admired the engineering of a semi automatic pistol. It's design has not changed significantly since it was patented in 1911.
Eventually I bought a Sig Sauer P228 which is a 9mm. It was really not the right weapon for me because I'm left handed and this gun is not ambidextrous. It looked like this:
The de-cocking lever and the slide release of the P228 are on the right side and are meant for the thumb of a right handed shooter.
We heard about the training offered by Frontsight which is a firearms training academy. We decided to sign up for the defensive handgun class in the spring of 1999. The class was held in Bakersfield, which is a long drive from SF.
Here is a picture of the class in session. There is an instructor for every 3 or 4 students. I thought our classmates would be gun crazies, but they were mostly professional people. Doctors, lawyers, business people, many women, and other technologists as well. Business cards were exchanged.
The lead instructor shouted his lectures to us in order to be heard. They taught us how to hold the weapon, aim it, and draw it from the holster. I have to admit I learned an awful lot.
As a left handed gun, they made me stand on the left side of the line. I realized that a better weapon for me would have been a Glock 40 caliber.
A Glock is ambidextrous and good for lefties like me. It also has a special 'Glock' action and a consistent trigger pull. The Sig P228 is a double action pistol. The first shot out of the holster is a heavy double action trigger pull as compared to the subsequent shots which are single action.
Some of the exercises involved metal targets. They would 'plink' and fall over when you hit them.
We shot at the targets from varying distances. The trick is to be able the draw your weapon, aim and fire, as quickly and accurately as you can. Doing this in an actual gun fight would be a very different matter for several obvious reasons. Think of dealing with the level of adrenaline that your body produces in such a situation.
The range was out in a rural area outside of Bakersfield. Sheep are raised here and herds of them clogged the roads.
We had a night shooting exercise and utilized these extremely bright flashlights. When shooting in the dark you must point your weapon, turn on the light, fire, turn off your light, and step aside. You need to move after firing and extinguishing your flash light because your light has just exposed your position to the enemy.
I shot well at night.
'Your gunfight better come at night, son!' said my instructor.
In this picture Enrique is elated.
The instructors were mostly law enforcement officers (LEO) who would teach these classes part time. They were really quite good.
This was taken when we arrived at the range at the beginning of class. Bill and Enrique look happy and refreshed here but everybody was exhausted when the class was over. We had steaks and wine at Harris Ranch in Coalinga on the way back to SF.
Of the 4 of us, only Mark graduated from the class and qualified to take the next class. I should have taken the class again. I'm sure I would have done much better. Bill eventually returned to Frontsight and took a shotgun class with his father!
These days I'm facebook friends with all of the guys. I'm on the other coast now, but those days don't seem so long ago.