About the Study Guide

You are looking at the South Dakota Handgun Education Study Guide. At the present time, you cannot obtain handgun education certification from Handgun Safety Course. However, you can use this Study Guide as a resource to learn more about handgun safety.

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Video Transcript
Hunter

We’re here on the streets of Anytown, USA, to find out whether or not the average Joe or Joanne can answer the question, real or Hollywood? Oh, excuse me, sir, are you up for the real or Hollywood challenge?

Man

You bet.

Hunter

All right. Take a look at this.

A 1970s-style action movie preview begins. Text on screen reads, “Starring Anton Antwerp. Also Starring Michelle Machete.”

Anton

Are you ready for this?

Michelle

I was born ready. Let’s do this.

Anton and Michelle stand with their guns raised. As Michelle kicks in a door, the movie title spins on screen: 9ines A-Blazin’.

Hunter

Now tell me, is that real or Hollywood?

The movie clip shows Anton shooting two handguns at once, holding them sideways. Michelle leaps out from behind their cover and does the same.

Man

That is a scene from my all-time favorite movie, 9ines A-Blazin’. That has to be absolutely real.

Hunter

Ooh, no. I’m so sorry, sir. That is Hollywood. And unfortunately, we’re sending you home with no consolation prize.

We hear a booing “studio audience” in voiceover. The scene changes, and Hunter and Andrea stand at an indoor gun range.

Hunter

Wow. We actually did that? Well, it proves you can’t believe everything you see on TV—maybe anything. In fact, when it comes to handguns, there’s almost nothing accurate from Hollywood—certainly not the proper grip and stance for shooting a handgun.

Andrea

To learn to shoot a handgun, you must know your strong side from your weak side.

Hunter

Take golf, for example.

Someone off-screen hands Hunter a golf club.

Hunter

Thank you. If you play golf, tennis, or baseball, which way do you do it best? Right-handed or left-handed? Whichever way, well, that’s your strong side.

Hunter tosses the golf club back out of frame.

Andrea

Despite what Hollywood might tell you, the best way to shoot a handgun is with two hands on the gun. For demonstration purposes, we're using an inert training pistol. Grasp the gun in your strong hand. With a semi-auto, the backstrap should rest as high as possible in the V between your thumb and index finger.

Hunter

Hold the gun firmly, but don’t put a death grip on it. This is fun. Keep your index finger off the trigger, and extend it along the side of the gun. Then, place your weak hand around and under your strong hand holding the gun. The weak-hand thumb can be lapped over the strong-hand thumb, with slight pressure locking the grip. Or the weak-hand thumb can be snuggled up below the strong-hand thumb, both pointing roughly parallel to the barrel—whichever is more comfortable for you on the type of handgun you are shooting.

Andrea

In shooting position, your strong arm is locked at the elbow, muscles pushing slightly forward. Your weak arm is pulling slightly backward in resistance to the strong arm. This push-pull steadies you to make a good shot. Only once you have the gun steadied and your eyes on the target do you flip off the safety and lay your finger on the trigger.

Hunter

Because of the design of the grip, in shooting a revolver your strong hand will sit back farther and lower on the grip. Grips on big-bore revolvers and single-shots are generally larger, so your weak hand will be positioned more around your strong hand than under it. But overlapping your thumbs is key for a solid, steady grip.

Andrea

When it comes time to put your finger on the trigger, use the meat of your finger, halfway between the tip and the first joint, to press or squeeze the trigger—smooth, steady, relaxed.

Hunter

Besides steadying your aim and helping you hit your target, gripping your handgun in this way has another big benefit: safety. On a semi-auto, it ensures your hands are clear of the slide when the gun cycles. On a revolver, it keeps your fingers away from the front of the cylinder, where blazing hot gases and particles can be expelled.

Andrea

Almost as important as grip is stance. The right stance allows your body to assist in making a good shot.

Hunter

Stand relaxed with your feet about shoulder-width apart. Now, put your weak-side foot just slightly forward, so the toe of your strong-side foot lines up with the back of your instep on your weak-side foot.

Andrea

Bend slightly at your knees and lean just a bit forward so the weight is on the balls of your feet and your toes and your balance slightly favors your weak-side foot.

Hunter

Now bring your gun into the two-hand grip shooting position. This will naturally roll your shoulders slightly forward, and you'll be most comfortable with a little bend forward at the waist. There, that’s it. Perfect. Take a breath, let it out—oh, now you’re stressing out again. Relax. Relax. Relax.