Responsible Gun Tips and News

3 Gun Competition – Why not try shooting a 3 Gun Match?

Posted by on Jul 29, 2012 in Articles, Competition Shooting, Firearms Training Raleigh NC | 0 comments

3 gun competition Many of you have a few different firearms for different reasons. Maybe a handgun for personal protection, home defense, concealed carry, hunting or just target shooting. Today’s uncertain economy and political issues have prompted many to purchase an “MSR”, Modern Sporting Rifle, what some call a “Black Rifle”, the most common being an AR-15 of some sort. Check the back of the closet or safe, I’ll bet there is a pump or semi-auto shotgun in there that has not seen the light of day for quite some time. Why not grab some ammo for all 3 and find a local 3-GUN match to compete in? Never shot in a formal 3 gun match before?? Not to worry, with some basic safety instruction and a basic understanding of the rules, you will do fine and have a great time. You will not win, most likely, your first time out, but we all must start somewhere, why not sooner than later at a local match?
What is a 3 GUN match, you may be wondering. To put it pretty simply, a 3 gun match is an action type shooting match that tests your skill with a pistol, rifle and shotgun. Some stages may be only 1 or 2 guns, and some stages will employ all 3 guns in a dynamic setting with multiple targets engaged with the different firearms at various distances. There has been an upsurge in interest in 3 gun lately, and there are even some TV shows featuring this fast paced, SAFE, fun sport. Many of the firearms related magazines almost always have an article or 2 about 3 gun and the various latest greatest gear for the sport.
Many may be wondering how to get started. Well, to state the obvious, you will need a pistol, rifle and shotgun. Magazines, and magazine holders will be needed to compete, and a way to carry extra shotgun shells. Many of today’s 3 gunners use some type of scope or optic on their rifles (helps with aging eyesight!!) and some use them on their pistols and shotguns as well. If you don’t have fancy gear and high dollar optics, no worries, there are different divisions that you can compete in. So if this is staring to peak your interest, time to take the next step. The best way to get started is to find someone that is already shooting 3 gun, and tag along with him or her, yes her, many ladies are shooting 3 gun now and beating quite a few of the men!! Competitive shooting is not age, race or gender specific, just good people having a FUN, SAFE time with their fellow Americans.
The other alternative is to find a COMPETENT Instructor to get you started in the right direction. Taking a class or 2 will cost you some money, but in the long term it will save you much more than you spent. A good instructor will give you a solid base of SAFETY, and an understanding of the rules for the different 3 gun competitions in your area. You will also learn some marksmanship skills that are different from static range practice.  You will learn how to “read” a stage and what your current level of skill is. You’ll learn how to improve your skill sets and overcome some of the different problem areas in shooting, much faster than the “trail by error” approach so many folks take. So if any of this has got you interested, please consider shooting some 3 gun and find a good Instructor to get you started. I can’t guarantee how high up in the stats you’ll place, but I can guarantee that you will have FUN and meet some great people along the way.
Learn more about John and Mel’s handgun training in the Raleigh NC area:
Send an email to: at or Call 919 397-3060

Semi or Revolver? – Trigger talk with John Z Sr. Firearms Training

Posted by on Jun 18, 2012 in Articles, Firearms Training Raleigh NC, Parts of a handgun, Revolver, Semi-auto | 0 comments

Semi-automatic gun and RevolverSemi-automatic and Revolver: what’s the difference and which should I buy?

Written by Mel Z – NRA Certified Instructor, Competition Shooter 

Semi-automatic pistols  function with a slide that cycles forwards and backwards to work the action of the gun.  Ammunition is loaded into the handgun’s magazine, and the magazine is then inserted through the bottom of the grip.  To chamber a round after you insert the magazine, you must pull the slide to the rear and then release the slide to allow it to go forward.  When the slide travels forward, it pulls a round from the magazine and pushes it into the chamber.  The gun will then be ready to fire.  Once you pull the trigger the slide cycles backwards ejecting the empty brass case, then the slide moves forward again and pulls another round from the magazine into the chamber.



Please view this short video showing the cycling of a semi-automatic pistol:


Revolvers  function with a rotating cylinder that has multiple chambers.  Ammunition is loaded into the chambers in the cylinder, and once the cylinder is closed the gun will be ready to fire.   When you pull the trigger the shot is fired, and the cylinder then rotates to the chamber with the next available round.  The empty brass cases of the rounds you fired stay in the chambers until you remove them.



Please view this brief video explaining the cycling of a revolver:


Which should you buy?  Several factors will determine your purchase decision.  The first question you should ask yourself is for what purpose do you want to buy a handgun?  In most instances you would probably not buy the same gun for concealed carry as you would if you wanted to become involved in competitive shooting sports.  If you want something for concealed carry, you probably prefer something small, compact and fairly light weight.  If you want a competition handgun, you want something full size with a longer barrel and more weight to better dampen recoil.

Another question you should consider thinking about is what feels like it best fits your hand?  A revolver will feel different than a semi-auto.  Do you want a pistol with a steel or metal frame, or a semi-auto with a polymer frame?  Does the grip angle feel natural?  Do you or don’t you like finger grooves on the grip?  How much hand and upper body strength do you have?  Some ladies have a difficult time “racking the slide” of a semi (pulling the slide rearward), whereas they might have an easier time with simply pushing a cylinder release button on a revolver (this pops the cylinder outward for loading).  HOWEVER, ladies – don’t be led to believe that a semi-automatic is too complicated for you to figure out!  There seems to be a misconception that women can’t control or operate a semi-automatic pistol, especially if they are a beginner.  I beg to differ!  When I first began shooting I started with a revolver.  Don’t get me wrong, they are great handguns, but I simply did not enjoy shooting them.  Once I switched over to shooting a polymer frame semi-auto, then I knew that was the proper firearm for me.  Not only was the semi-auto easier on my hand, the unloading and reloading of the gun was much faster.

If you are generally unfamiliar with handguns and have little to no shooting experience, how comfortable are you with learning how to operate a semi-automatic? A semi-auto will take more familiarization to get comfortable with, and you must learn and understand how external safeties work (if you buy a gun that has them – some do, some don’t).  You must also know how to clear a misfeed or malfunction in a semi-auto should one occur.

How much ammunition do you want to have available?  Generally, revolvers will limit you to five (for smaller models) or six rounds (for larger models) before the gun is empty and you have to reload.  Semi-automatics range from six rounds (in small pistol) up to 17 rounds (in full size pistols).  Many manufacturers offer “extended” magazines, which can further increase your ammunition capacity, some up to 22+ rounds.

If you are buying a handgun for concealed carry, WHERE are you going to conceal it?  On your body? Or in a purse or coat pocket?  The key point to remember here is that a semi-auto has a slide that must have room to cycle backwards and forwards, and when it cycles it ejects the brass out through the ejection port.  Is the movement of the slide going to be hindered or snagged in your purse or jacket pocket (should you have to shoot through them)?

How much are you willing to spend?  Prices of guns will vary depending on the manufacturer and the current popularity of what you want to get (high demand and low availability may mean paying a premium price).  Do you want something new or will you settle for something used?  Will you need extra magazines for a semi-automatic?  How much is the cost of the ammunition, and is the ammo easy to find?  How much will you have to pay each time you go to the range to practice?  What’s the cost of a good holster (and a sturdy, quality belt) or concealed carry purse?  Are you going to buy some type of gun safe?  Do you want to buy and put on different grips or sights?  If you want to take firearms training lessons or take a class to get your permit to carry concealed, what are the costs of those things?  Don’t forget you need to buy eye and ear protection and a gun cleaning kit or cleaning supplies.  You will find that there is more to consider in cost than just purchasing the gun itself.

Ultimately, I can’t (and won’t) tell YOU what you should buy.  I can’t know what are your unique, personal circumstances that will determine what is really best for you or your household situation.  Purchasing a handgun is an important decision, and you should make the right choice that you’ll be HAPPY with – the first time!  Although many people will give you well intended advice, please make your choice based on your opinion and what you think is right for you.  John offers a Step 1 class where you can shoot different caliber semi-autos and revolvers before you buy.  This is a great opportunity for you to find out what you do or don’t like before you make that purchase decision.


  1. Treat every gun as if it’s loaded.
  2. Keep your finger OFF the trigger until you’re ready to fire.
  3. Never point a gun at anything you aren’t willing to destroy.
  4. Always know your target and what’s beyond it.


Learn more about John and Mel’s handgun training in the Raleigh NC area:
Send an email to: at or Call 919 397-3060 


Firearms Training for Women in Raleigh NC and Surrounding Area

Posted by on Feb 17, 2012 in Articles, Uncategorized | 0 comments

A growing number of women in and around the Raleigh NC area, and in fact around the country, are taking interest in purchasing handguns and getting firearms training.  Once you’ve made your purchase of your handgun, where can you find trustworthy, reliable training suited for your needs?

Students in class with John Z Sr.

Students in class with John Z Sr.

When searching for a firearms training instructor, know what kind of training you want, and be sure to find someone like John who has credible credentials.  One size does not fit all.  Are you interested in learning about self defense or home protection?  Do you want tactical training?  Or do you want to learn how to shoot in competition, such as USPSA or IDPA?  Do you want an NRA Certified Instructor?  You can certainly find qualified and experienced instructors, and depending on their backgrounds each will provide his/her own style.  An instructor who has prior law enforcement or military background may teach with a different mindset and use different terminology than an instructor who has many years of experience and training as a competitive shooter.  Fortunately for you, John has experience as a competitive shooter and knowledge from his previous military background, so he can provide different approaches to teaching that relate to your needs and make you feel comfortable.

Mel working with a new shooter

Mel working with a new shooter

What specific questions do you have that you need your instructor to answer?  Do you have questions about how to maintain and clean your handgun?  Do you have a certain issue you need help with, such as being cross eye dominant, not being aggressive enough with your stance/posture, difficulty in pulling back the slide on a semi-automatic, help with correcting your shot placement on your targets?  Do you prefer group instruction or one-on-one instruction?

Additionally, what type of materials, handouts or resource notes will your instructor give you to take away from the class?  Hard copies of information allows you to look back later at what you learned so you don’t have to remember everything that you covered during your instruction time.

Most importantly, make sure you are taught and understand gun safety!  Gun safety rules must always be repeatedly stressed and applied.  Wherever your instructor will be conducting your training, ask BEFORE you go what are the safety protocols for that range or club.  Don’t go to your class with a loaded gun (I recommend magazine out and slide locked open for semi-automatics, or cylinder open and empty for revolvers), and don’t take your handgun out of your range bag or pistol bag until your instructor tells you to do so.  Safety should always be the highest priority at any range.

I invite you to contact John and take your training class with him (read John’s Q&A page).  He wants to make sure new gun owners and new shooters start with the training and attention they need.  He offers various classes depending on what you want to learn, and can show you the safe, proper, fun ways to get started!

Mel Zaczek

Please visit John’s website at, and send us an email to to let us know which class you’re interested in.  Or call us at 919-397-3960 or 252-292-5076.

Handguns for Women – What a woman needs to know before she buys a gun

Posted by on Feb 12, 2012 in Articles | 6 comments

Ladies, as a female who once knew nothing about guns or shooting, I’ve been in your shoes and I understand how confusing and intimidating buying a handgun can be.  If a woman has little to no experience with handguns or shooting, shopping for and purchasing the right handgun can be a challenging task.  If this is a new endeavor for you, you may go into a gun store and not even really know what questions you should ask about what to buy.   You may receive lots of well intended advice about what’s best for you from the sales person, your neighbors, your co-workers, your brother/son/husband, etc.  All of this advice is definitely good to take into consideration but don’t be sold or persuaded into making a purchase you don’t feel is right for YOU.  You may also already have a preconceived notion of what you believe would be best based on magazine articles you’ve read, what you’ve seen on television, or internet research you’ve done.

However, if you have not already done so, please take into consideration a few things:

What is your PRIMARY reason for wanting to purchase a handgun?  Is it for concealed carry, for home defense, for backyard plinking (where it is legal and SAFE), or to get involved in target shooting or competition, etc?  Do you live alone?  (ALWAYS take safety precautions into consideration if you have small children or minors in your house!)  If you are new to shooting, are going to make a future handgun purchase, or you intend to take a class to get your North Carolina concealed carry permit, I STRONGLY recommend you take a class with John.  He provides you an opportunity to shoot 10 different handguns of different sizes and calibers so you know what you like and don’t like before you actually purchase your own gun.  It also gives you the chance to become comfortable with shooting before you must perform your shooting qualifications test for a concealed carry class.

What is YOUR level of experience?

Do you understand the different calibers of ammunition (.22, .380, 9mm, .40, .45, 38, 357 – to name a few) and what are the benefits and drawbacks of each in relation to recoil?

Will you commit yourself to PRACTICE with your handgun?  Practice = competence = confidence!

How much are you willing to SPEND on this investment?  Remember, after you purchase your handgun, consider the cost of ammunition (some calibers are more expensive than others), extra magazines, a holster, paying for range time, and other additional items you may want such as a sturdy gun belt, a pistol bag or pistol box, buying and having installed different front or rear sights, a gun safe for your home, etc.

Do you prefer a revolver or a semi-automatic handgun?  Both are excellent choices depending on your need and your comfort level in manipulating and shooting a pistol.  Revolvers are easier to manipulate but will limit your ammunition capacity to five or six rounds.  Semi-automatics handguns, depending on the size (subcompact, compact, full size), can increase how many rounds you have available but take more practice and understanding to load and get to a ready condition depending on whether it has external safeties.

Purchasing a handgun is an important decision and it’s best to make the right decision the first time.  John and I are both avid competition shooters, NRA Certified Instructors, USPSA Range Officers, IDPA Safety Officers, and co-founders of ZSA.  Let us help to give you the knowledge you need to make an informed, confident choice and teach you the fundamentals of gun safety!

Mel giving pointers

Mel giving pointers

Mel Zaczek

Learn more about training with John in and around the Raleigh NC area at, or call 919-397-3960.