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Beginner Mistakes

Wiley Clapp explains the worst mistakes that most beginning shooters make, and offers solutions.


A concerned citizen who contemplates buying and using a handgun faces an intimidating task, which is true regardless of the shooter’s reason for starting a handgunning career. Shooting a handgun is a rather simple physical skill akin to playing golf or tennis. But using a handgun is a practice loaded with legal and moral implications.

By design, all firearms are deadly and every shot that issues forth from them is a potential death. You must accept the grave nature of your actions as you go about learning and using your new firearm. I certainly don’t want to discourage a healthy interest in using guns or even deprecate the need for one when the circumstances of your life might justify it. But I do want you to accept that you can seriously injure or even kill someone with your new hobby. 

In times past, most shooters learned their shooting skills at their father’s knee, developing a sense of responsibility about firing a shot. As the years roll on and the population tends to cluster together in major urban centers, the need for learning gun skills and the opportunity to do so seem to lessen. True enough, but it can also be argued that life in an urban center simply exposes you to more people, some of which might be willing to victimize their fellow man.

The problem then becomes an educational one. You have to find an instructor who is up-to-date on all applicable Federal and state regulations, as well as being well versed in the teaching of gunhandling and marksmanship techniques. I believe that this is the biggest mistake that beginners make—they fail to seek qualified instructors. Having recently witnessed some pretty incompetent teaching in progress, I can attest to the truth of this statement. My suggestion here is to seek competent instruction from NRA-certified instructors. Believe me, they spent a good bit of time and effort achieving that distinction. Many local NRA-affiliated gun clubs have excellent teaching programs in place and responsible gun dealers are delighted to send you to them.

You also need to decide what kind of shooting you want to learn from an instructor. In these troubled times, I have often asked beginners this question and got some pretty vague answers. Usually, I hear things like “I want to know how to handle a handgun” or “I just need to know how to load and fire it.” What they are trying to say, without sounding like Rambo, is “I want to know how to defend myself.”

Skillfully used, the handgun is certainly capable of that. Notice that we are now focused on the handgun, because that is what the greater number of people are interested in learning. Instructors hear this all the time, but the good ones make it clear that basic skills of sight alignment and trigger control are the basis for all handgun shooting. Don’t give up on an instructor because he wants you to learn the basics before he progresses to advanced combat skills. I believe that a great many new handgunners are unrealistic about their training, specifically in what they expect to happen and how fast it will happen.  Be patient—take your time and learn.

Then, people show up for their first class in a handgun training course with an amazing array of pistols and revolvers. Your equipment needs to be chosen with great care. Don’t worry about getting the latest or best in the way of powerful handguns and exotic equipment. All you need as a beginner is a handgun that may be fired comfortably and economically. There is nothing better in this regard than a plain .22 rimfire pistol or revolver. The lack of recoil and muzzle blast, added to the low cost of the ammunition, make these modest guns great choices for training. I would like to point out that Smith & Wesson offers a .22 semi-automatic pistol built on the same frame it uses for 9 mm and .40 S&W pistols. Ruger does exactly the same thing. Ruger also offers its steel frame SP101 in .22 and .38 Spl. versions. And believe it or not, S&W does the same thing in both small- and medium-sized revolvers. My point is simply that you can choose a handgun that flattens out the learning curve—a .22 rimfire—and provides an easy transition to a more effective caliber. 

I steadfastly cling to the belief that a .22 Long Rifle is not an effective defense cartridge—not enough bullet, not enough speed. But the concept of training with one and transitioning to a .38 or 9 mm is very appealing. If you think that I am telling you that you must have a .22 and a .38 or 9 mm, I am not. It is completely possible to begin training with your choice of caliber and use it to the end of your days. The .22 route just makes it easier. In this regard, choose a primary defensive gun that has the greatest power you can manage. Believe it or not, that is usually a .45 ACP. Yes, I know that this is the caliber associated with SWAT cops and SPECOPs soldiers, but I recently finished a class at Gunsite with half-and-half men and women. Several women had .45s and used them well. Make that very well.

The majority of new handgunners make errors on at least some of these things. They don’t get responsible and professional training, and then get impatient with their instructor. They don’t choose their gun sensibly and expect to become seasoned gunfighters overnight. Seek help, choose well, and be patient.

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37 Responses to Beginner Mistakes

Glenn wrote:
June 28, 2013

I can remember when I first started shooting with a handgun. I had just joined the NRA out of the military and wanted to test my skills with a handgun. I chose a .22LR semi auto to find out how to first contol then aim properly to hit the target. I then went to a shooting facility that rented handguns for use on the range. I checked to see how large a round I could control with comfort and chose a firearm based on those results. I choice was a 9MM with a 4in+ barrel. I have not looked back since.

Hanrod wrote:
June 22, 2013

It seems to me that the most important factor for any new (or "old") shooter is consistent practice. To take even the best handgun course, or even more than one, then to think one prepared for home defense (or, God forbid, carry), without consistent practice, is foolish. And, the real problem here is the relatively few available ranges for practice, particularly in urban areas, and particularly in CA. Let's work on that, and we will have better shooters and safer gun handlers all around.

William Heath wrote:
June 19, 2013

Paxton Quigley, the famous female instructor, recommends revolvers for her students.

Bill wrote:
June 19, 2013

This subject is so multifaceted and I read a lot of absolutes in the comments. I absolutely believe size matters; the bigger and heavier the bullet, the more effective it can be expected to be. However you can send a 300 grain bullet past an assailants ear and it won't solve the problem. The best gun for self defense is the one you can shoot the best. If all you can consistently hit a target with is a .22, it's better than a bunch of 9MM's whizzing buy your assailant. Ruger just came out with a .22 Magnum in their LCR lineup that has some notable ballistic test results. I do believe though that proper training and lots of practice can up the recoil a person can manage. The question becomes; how much time is someone willing to put into their skill development? If "she" has to, carry a .22 till she's ready for more; it's better than nothing.

Jeff wrote:
June 14, 2013

When I have women look at guns they are nearly always looking for a small 9mm , I hand it to them and ask them to draw the slide, almost to a person they are shocked at how hard it is to jack a round. Then I steer them to a double action 38 and explain the inherint safety of the revolver over the auto for the novice. They always leave happy and of course I explain the available local training. Autos are fine if well versed in them for women, but if the only time they pick them up is 2am when someone is breaking in a door they need absolute confidence in their ability to point and fire.

Jim Dalton wrote:
June 12, 2013

Wow! I have to say I'm surprised at the comments here. The article is great but I feel it missed the mark on one point. I have taught martial arts and hand to hand combat for over 25 years. I have been a shooting enthusiast and have shot competitive archery for over 20 years. Several years back I decided that it was essential for me to train and get certified to teach others with firearms. I think the most important question to ask is this, "Why do you want to carry a firearm?" When you get to the heart of it you will find the answer overwhelmingly tends to be that this person wants to feel confident that they can keep their family and themselves safe from the violent criminals we are made increasingly aware of by the media. I am a certified concealed carry instructor but I do not teach a concealed carry course. I teach a personal safety course. The advanced portion of this course will allow the students to obtain a concealed carry permit. However, I always come back to one of the first things I learned from one of the best martial arts instructors I had. He stated, "The best way to defend yourself is to not be in the position where you have to." No, this is not 100% guaranteed. However, starting with situational awareness training and avoidance is more effective than debating all the aspects of gun selection in my opinion. Don't get me wrong, I think proper firearm instruction is crucial for those times that you can't avoid being in that position. That being said I also have to agree with TheGunGuy! Is it reasonable to spend hundreds, maybe thousands of dollars on a pistol and yet expect proper training for under $100 and in less than one day? I don't think so but the majority of people I speak to seeking a concealed carry permit do. A pistol is no different from any other weapon in that it is only as effective as the person holding it. Will they even get a shot off if fear-paralysis takes hold? There is a bigger picture here.

John wrote:
May 15, 2013

I don't like Glocks for defense for new shooters unless an external safety is installed. Trigger pull is too short, and too light. Ask that off-duty cop whose pistol discharged while he was dancing, closely, with his girl friend. Bet it will be a long time before she gives him a tight hug again! I also don't really like a safety for folks who won't shoot regularly. So, revolvers or DA/SA autos. I carry a SIG P220; compete with a 1911 with the grip safety disabled. I sell guns and try to suggest .22's as starter guns with mixed success. Often the ones who buy 22's are those who are already shooters. I also don't like selling mouse guns to new shooters especially. They will do the job but are really unpleasant to shoot and difficult for new shooters to control.

John R wrote:
May 12, 2013

On a recent trip to an indoor range I couldn’t help but hear a woman, at the station next to mine, stating that she was scared, almost to tears, about shooting her husbands .357 revolver, yet he insisted she learn how to use it because he would be out of town on business a lot and it was for her protection. I had my Ruger .22 with me so I politely asked if they would like to try it out before progressing to a more powerful firearm. I provided them with the pistol and 100 rounds. Within 10 minutes she went from being frightened and scared to “this is fun.” Later when they returned my pistol and thanked me I suggested that if the .357 was for home defense that .38 Special JHP’s had much less recoil, would work fine, and be more suitable for a small framed woman. Who knows if they took my advise; but I do know a scared nervous woman became more confident and left the range in a better state of mind.

Michael wrote:
May 07, 2013

The military trains a lot of women to shoot pistols and they start them on 9mm. This is also the caliber I have started women shooting on, in an automatic. All they require is being reassured that the recoil is not going to cause it to fly out of their hands or cause a painful stinging bruise. It's not an elephant gun. It's not painful and there is nothing to be afraid of.

Jesse Reeves wrote:
April 28, 2013

I believe in the Graduation Theory. All newcomers react diferently! Women tend to panic at recoil so a small caliber is always the best way to go when teaching the basics. All the mean while they get to learn the all too important fundimentals before moving up to a calibur that can hurt them. Each individual is diferent and for that reason alone is why I prefer this method! Slow and steady that way they are prepared and confident for the next step!

Jared wrote:
April 23, 2013

I have a 'theory' on selection of a handgun for first-timers. It's based on muscle memory, recoil pulse, and economics. I would stick to the big 3 due to availability of ammo. The 9 and the .40 both have a 'snappy' recoil pulse and the .40 and .45 have a more heavy recoil. I prefer a .45s slow heavy recoil but that is only a personal preference. The muscle memory theory is based on grip angle and sight profile ( on a reliable pistol). Check the chamber first and foremost, pick a target on the wall with the gun at your side ( holster area), close your eyes, draw and aim, open your eyes. The sights will be above, on, or below the target. For a self defense weapon, the sights should be on target and at the natural point of aim in this test. It should be an extension of your wrist and not need manipulation to come on target.

Johnny Dollar wrote:
April 23, 2013

I have a good sized collection of pistols from various manufacturers and various calibers, like many of you. Two of my favorites are the S&W M&P in 22 LR and the same gun in 40 S&W. To me it's great fun to plink away with a couple of hundred rounds of 22 then switch and put some 40's down range using basically the same frame. It has also convinced me of the usefulness of the 22 to start a new shooter, especially women. Once they get over the intimidation factor of firing a gun, which is much easier with the 22, they start getting a level of comfort, have fun, and build confidence. After a time, meaning several range sessions they can move up a caliber to a .38 or 9, then to a .40, and then a .45. One of two things will happen. they will become comfortable with the higher calibers all the way up to the .45, or they will settle on a caliber with which they are comfortable and shoot well. I think this is a better process than what often happens. The new shooter's mentor decides for them what caliber they should shoot, usually based on their own prejudices like a woman can't handle a large caliber, or the .45 is the best self defense caliber

Bill wrote:
April 22, 2013

Caliber and type of handgun are important but are of little consequence if there is not the will to use it. I believe that the instruction should include 'Don!t draw your weapon until you are going to shoot', then shot placement and power will make a difference. Drawing a weapon you are not going to use could in itself have dire results.

Gary wrote:
April 21, 2013

One important safety item is usually overlooked. A good holster is the primary safety when carrying afield or concealed carry. A good carry gun and holster combination should make it effectively impossible for the gun to go off while holstered. I have gotten rid of all of my single action automatic 22s because I did not feel they were safe to carry in a holster with a bullet in the chamber. The safeties on those guns blocked the sear but not the hammer or firing pin. DA only, firing pin block unless the trigger is pulled back, etc. makes a much safer gun to carry. It took me a long time to understand guns like a double action revolver with no safety are much safer to carry in a bolster with a strap over the hammer than a cocked single action, enclosed hammer, automatic with a sear blocking safety.

Rich O wrote:
April 21, 2013

Why is the .40 S & W always skipped. It has speed, a reasonable recoil, good size bullets, and enough knock down for the FBI and many police departments. with a 10 round capacity mag loaded and one more in your pocket you have a lot of fire power. Hopefully, nobody would need more then 3 well placed shots.

Yep wrote:
April 20, 2013

I have put many a deer in the freezer with a Redhawk 44. I luv shooting my 1911 45. I luv my SA Colt. That said, the only carry gun that I DO CARRY all the time is the diminutive NAA 5 shot revolver in 22 mag. Why U might ask? Because it is far superior to the guns I have that are LOCKED up.

The Gun Guy® wrote:
April 19, 2013

I've been an NRA instructor for almost 25 years now (8 disciplines and RSO). Two things come to mind that rankle me: (1) God help you if you want to charge a fee for your time. Folks'll pay $60-$80/hr for car repairs but find a $40 charge for a firearms course unreasonable. (2) Teaching by untrained people. While shopping with my wife, I overheard a young lady speaking with her girlfriend about "learning to shoot." I introduced myself, presented my business card and offered my services. The young lady said, "That's OK. My boyfriend will teach me." Jeez! We can't even BEGIN to cover my stories about such fiascoes.

BigFoot wrote:
April 19, 2013

As usual, lots of good advice from the shooters to those just starting out: learn how to shoot with a .22 and always avoid the autos unless you are going to become a gun nut of the highest order. After you learn how to shoot you are ready to buy your first carry weapon. To help you choose your new weapon, consider these three scenarios and you will know which caliber to buy. In the first, you have to take on an unarmed bad guy. You whip out your trusty .22/.380 and keep shooting till he falls down from the weight of the lead, all the time managing to stay out of his grasp. Hmmm, what if he got hold of me and put that little gun where the sun don't shine – ouch. In the second, the bad guy has a knife. You have to put this bad guy down in no more than two shots or you risk getting stuck. Minimum would be the .38/9mm but who wants minimum when you tick-off a guy with a knife? In the third, the bad guy has a gun. Now this is your worst nightmare. The longer it takes to put his butt on the ground the longer he is going to be shooting at you. So unless you want to die together, you need one-shot stopping power. While no handgun can guarantee that, some are obviously better than others. This is where big holes and power counts so your choices are .40 and .45 in autos or .45 Colt/ACP in a revolver. When you leave home tomorrow morning, which one of these three scenarios are you going to arm for? What if you're wrong and you don't bring enough gun? If physical restrictions limit your choice of weapon, that's just the way it is. But I get the impression that lots of folks go small because they have convinced themselves that a gun is a gun and size and power doesn't matter. As long as they can stand in front of a paper target that isn't moving or shooting back and put a few "well-placed" rounds in the middle, they are convinced that they are invincible. Since you don't get a do-over when it comes to saving your life, doesn't it make sense to err on the side of going too big?

RyDaddy wrote:
April 19, 2013

I, too, disagree with "steadfastly cling to the belief that a .22 Long Rifle is not an effective defense cartridge." Shot placement and multiple rounds on target trump single shot impact. Its not hunting; one-shot, one-kill is not important. I can put 22 .22 rounds from my GSG-522 in a tighter circle in less time that I can put 8 9mm rounds down range at the same yardage with my handgun. An attacker is just as likely to be wearing something or in a state where the first rounds don't stop him with a .22 as a 9mm, but I can realize that and adjust my point of aim FAR faster (center of mass to face and neck) and put the next rounds down range with the .22.

Dave wrote:
April 19, 2013

I have 6 pistols all of which have different safety locations and mag releases. I have to review how each works before firing at the range. My home defense weapon is a 12 gauge and I only carry one pistol with which I have had extensive practice. My wife carried a .22 mag, that is what she is comfortable with both in size and function. I wanted her to get a larger cal but she said it was too cumbersome and wouldn't a carry it. I feel better knowing she has somthing in here purse that she knows how to use rather than just lipstick and pepperspray.

Rich wrote:
April 19, 2013

know someone who has experience with firearms! ask that person questions! As responsible sportsmen, shooters, collectors, and Patriotic Americans, it is our responsibility to ensure the continuation of our way of life!

John wrote:
April 19, 2013

Safety 'switch'???

Robert Ando wrote:
April 19, 2013

With over 50 yrs. experience. I think that a .22LR is the only way to introduce a first timer. Progress to either a Glock 19 or a .357 revolver. Remember to start out with .38 specials, then maybe .357s. Eventually they may like a large bore revolver or a .45 acp DAO pistol. Single action autos are for enthusiasts and pros only!I have been criticized for this, but after some firing practice, see if they are willing to try (after demonstrating) a large magnum pistol. Then if sufficiently impressed and only after they will not complain about the "recoil" of a .357 or a .45acp. A demo may be all that is needed. My friend fired a full bore .45 LC single action for comparison!

Carl wrote:
April 19, 2013

While I agree that the .45 ACP is a great defensive cartridge,(I carry it myself) it really gets me when the gunstore commandos disparage a .22 as a defense weapon. When those guys do that, I always ask them: "So you wouldn't have a problem with me unloading a Ruger Single Six into your leg then?" I'd much rather have my wife carry the .22 with her than wish she carried the .45 that was left home in the safe. You are much better off shooting and carrying what you are comfortable with rather than a piece that scares you or is too heavy.

Jim Macklin wrote:
April 18, 2013

The human hand varies in size and strength with age. By the time a child is old enough to begin shooting they may not have the strength to handle a large gun. Case in point, a Ruger Bearcat is almost too small for an adult to handle, bit is just right for a supervised 10 year old. Someone purchasing their first gun will be at least 18, maybe 21 for a handgun. BUT everyone should start with a .22 LR caliber before buying any centerfire handgun. This is because the skills of sight alignment and trigger squeeze/press are the same no matter tyhe caliber, but the recoil of even a modest 32 H&R loaded with .32 S&W is too much for many to begin with, not to memtion the cost. Many gun store clerks know little about teaching shooting, if you find a professional gun store the clerks shoukd know what you need. If they try to sell you a .357 as your first gun, flee. You need eye and hearing protection first, then buy a .22 handgun or rifle and learn to shoot it accurately. If you're buying for self-defense, you shoud still start with a .22, but there are guns that are available in both .22 and the more defense suitable calibers od 38 or 357. Ruger makes the LCR in .22 and 30 or 357. The SP101 .22 might be a better choice as a first revolver, and an LCR in 357 used ith 38 Special to transfer skills makes sense. One gun is not a lifetime one only purchase. The gun is easier to learn in steps or stages. History lesson, back in the 1960s, S&W sold a lot of 44 Magnum revolvers when Dirty Harry hit the movie screen. Most of those were soon back on the dealers' shelves as used guns, with a box of 49 rounds remaining.

Alan wrote:
April 18, 2013

We can argue caliber, DA, Glock, Colt .45 .9 .357 etc all day. With so many new first time gun buyers we have to be an example, train them toshootstraight. Gun safety, first. The help them so they an get their carry permits. One thing on that, these classes that have then shooting 50 rounds do not give them the training they need for a gunfight . situation. As Jordan said there is no second place winner in a gunfight

obxned wrote:
April 18, 2013

Don't completely dismiss the 22LR as a personal defense. Shot placement trumps all, and well placed shots from a .22 are much better than poorly placed shots from a hand cannon. While bigger is better, use what you shoot well, and for most inexperienced shooters that is the .22.

Dave wrote:
April 18, 2013

I am a gun supervisor/instructor in Switzerland for post-army training and shooting. There are two major saftey aspects I usually teach: 1) Every gun is considered to be loaded. So don't play around. 2) Never point at anything unless you really want to shoot that target. These two advises help a lot to increase security, especially with newcomers.

Chris wrote:
April 18, 2013

My Wife owns a 38spc and a 9mm, but her favorite gun to shoot is her Beretta Neos 22. I have watched many a frustrated woman, at the range for the first time shooting a 45. I offer up my 22 pistol as a confidence builder and watch the smile on her face grow as she hits the bullseye. Make it fun and they'll shoot for life.

Mike wrote:
April 18, 2013

In my opinion,a.357 with a minimum of a good trigger, simple sights and a six inch barrel will bring to bear the best combination of hitting target, less recoil and make practicing an enjoyable hobby. I dig 1911s and quality semiautos-but they are not as likely to possess the simple and easy experience with the reliability of a last resort, zero tolerance for snafu under the intensity of stress as a revolver. You can't change my mind. What would you give your sister for advice-I am only refering an in home environment where you are locked in your room or hiding from a typical intrusion-not combat against many where you are taking tactical steps to pick people off-personal defensive strategy.

BigFoot wrote:
April 16, 2013

Careful, you are going to destroy a lot of people's fear of recoil by saying that they could easily shoot a .45! Recoil is physically defined by gun weight, bullet weight, and bullet velocity. Undefined, but the main cause of felt recoil, is the size of the grip. Those small feather-weight pocket pistols, with their tiny two-finger grips, are going to lay a huge extra dose of hurt on your hand. Here are the recoil numbers: 380/95-grain bullet@900 fps/.6 lb gun/5.4 ft. lbs. recoil; .38 Special/125@850/1.0 lb/5.6 ft lbs; .357/125@1220/2.75 lbs/4.6 ft lbs; 9x19+P/115@1250/1.5 lbs/7.3 ft lbs; .40/155@1200/1.5 lbs/10.6 ft lb; .45/230@850fps/2.25 lbs./7.9 ft. lbs. From these numbers, it is apparent that the weight of the gun is the most important factor in mitigating recoil. By adding a few ounces to its weight, you can easily go up a caliber! Your home gun should be full-size and have a very large hole in the end of the barrel. Your carry gun could very well be a .357 instead of a .38 or a 9mm instead of a .380. Or even a smallish .40 or.45 if saving your life takes preference over getting an owie on your hand.

Dave wrote:
April 16, 2013

On top of that, ask questions! Don't be afraid to show your ignorance and ask for assistance or advice. Any gun shop employee will be happy to help you, and if they don't seem to want to help, find one that will. I've been a shooter for a long time, but still need to ask sometimes when handling a firearm I'm not familiar with.

Joe wrote:
April 16, 2013

There's also a lot more to be said about weapon choice, which is equally crucial. A lot of new handgun owners don't see - or understand - the difference between a $100 Russian Cold-War-era pistol versus a new, high-quality weapon if it comes in the same caliber. Part wear is significantly different, as are the materials the gun is made with, plus gun balance. Add to that the difference requirements for maintenance (a lot of people really don't understand how or why weapons need cleaned often). Next up, backup safeties. This really contests for first place in the line of importance. It's highly uncommon to find a modern handgun without many of these built in. Drop safeties are especially important, even more so now that firearms are under such high scrutiny. Equally important are trigger/grip safeties designed to avoid accidental discharges. Double action/single action is another subject worthy of discussion on the gun safety subject, but I'll leave that for further discussion down the road.

John wrote:
April 16, 2013

I agree that training is really important. I grew up spending much time in the woods or at the range, and I had the added advantage that my grandpa was an NRA certified instructor. I think that training is the first thing that new gun owners should pursue, and I think its always good for someone who has been shooting since childhood to make sure that you stay sharp.

KR wrote:
April 16, 2013

With the introduction of striker fired pistols (Glock, M&P, XD, etc.) that are significantly simpler to operate than other semiautos, there is no reason to force beginners to start with a DA revolver. I teach a couple hundred students a month. At least twice a month I have female students show up with DA revolvers that they lack the hand strength to fire, given to them by well-meaning men like Pete who repeat the same old advice that made sense in 1965, 1975 and 1985, but is less valid today. Conventional wisdom among most trainers teaching today is that when students are ready to progress past a .22 (which is an excellent place to start), a 9mm striker fired gun gets them to the highest level of proficiency and safety in the least training time.

Brian wrote:
April 16, 2013

While I agree with your assessment 100% Peter, conversely, those types of of revolvers without their complicated safeties can be a nightmare for folks with children. If the gun is found it's far too easy (aside from the usual heavier trigger pull ) for an accident to happen. But again, like you said, ind a defensive scenario if someone has touched their pistol in months or years, and panic, yeah, a safety could actual be a bad thing. That's why it's important to get to the range once in a while to stay familiar with your firearm.

Pete wrote:
April 16, 2013

One thing we need to remember is that semi-auto pistols are very complicated to anyone who does not use them regularly. Those of us who work with firearms find it hard to believe, but I have found that many people cannot remember where the safety switch is on a pistol after they have not looked at it in a while. Single action "cocked and locked," double action hammer-drop safeties, and even decocking levers are a recipe for disaster for many average people because their training becomes a distant memory as they go about their lives. Unless the person shows a particular interest and aptitude to really learn a semi-auto, the .38 or .357 revolver is still the way to go.