A set of paper targets was set up at 6 yards for students to shoot during the first session. After instruction and practice, the students were able to “ping” metal targets at 25 yards.
Kellenberger said .22-caliber handguns, either semi-automatic or revolver, are excellent firearms for the newcomers to learn the basics. Many of the students get a great deal of knowledge simply from getting the chance to shoot different styles of handguns. Often they go home after a class and purchase the exact handgun that they enjoyed shooting on the range.
“The .22s are great starter guns,” he said. “They can learn all the basics and do it inexpensively. For people who are a little bit afraid of firearms, there is not a lot of recoil and not a loud report. They’re easy to shoot, and the ammo is less expensive. That means a lot right now with ammo being sold in never before seen amounts.
“A progression a lot of people take is to start with a .22 and then move up to the firearm they are comfortable shooting or carrying if they decide to.”
Kellenberger said he can see changes in the students’ confidence from the start of the class to the end.
“With the volume of shooting and close instruction, they are a lot more comfortable with firearms and shooting than when they got here,” he said. “They were all smiling when they left, which is a good thing.”
To use WFF Public Shooting Ranges, Alabama residents are required to have a valid hunting, wildlife heritage, fishing, or WMA license for all range users between the ages of 16-64. For nonresidents, a valid WMA license or non-resident hunting license is required for all range users age 16 or older.
“All of our shooters today purchased the Wildlife Heritage License before participating,” Kellenberger said. “I explained that this $11 license allows them to use our public shooting ranges and our public archery parks for a year. It allows us (WFF) to provide these services to the citizens of Alabama. WFF does not receive any money from the state’s General Fund, and a large portion of the funding that pays for programs like this comes directly from license sales and matching federal funds.”
As Kellenberger said before, it was all smiles when the class ended, and the participants were happy with their firearms education for the day.
“I think it was an excellent experience,” said Jacqueline Brooks of Montgomery, who was accompanied by her daughter, Jayla. “It gives them a chance to teach you one-on-one and make corrections. They show you the proper stance and how to hold your gun, so it was very exciting. I enjoyed learning how to clear a misfire. Sometimes people’s guns do misfire, and they don’t know what to do. I really enjoyed learning that.”
Jamie Ligon of Hoover said she decided to take the class for two reasons, the COVID-19 restrictions that caused her to seek solace on hikes through the woods and the fact her dog probably would not protect her if a situation occurred.
“Since the virus came around, about the only exercise opportunities are outside,” Ligon said. “I’ve gotten very interested in hiking with my dog. I decided if I encountered a snake I might want to have a way to protect myself. My friend asked me if I was afraid walking around. She knows my dog and said, ‘I know Boris is not going to do anything but kiss them to death.’
“I was afraid of handguns and after the class not nearly as much. The instructors were all very knowledgeable. I’m glad I did this. I’m going to recommend this to a friend of mine.”
Patti Grace of Vestavia Hills said she loves camping and decided she needed to learn about firearms for her protection.
“I solo-camp,” Grace said. “Sometimes I boondock, which means I camp out in the boonies without electricity and maybe not much safety. I thought it would be good to know how to use a firearm safely. I’ve never shot anything other than a BB gun when I was 8 years old. This was amazing. My instructor, Stuart, was awesome.
“I’m kind of addicted to it now. I’m going to have to get all kinds of guns. I think this is so good for the public to have a place to come. The experience was awesome.”