Learn from my mistakes: I painted my gun shut. Really…

I took a 16 hour defensive handgun class locally: 4 days, over 2 weeks, 4+ hours each class. Snap caps were required for malfunction drills. Snap caps are essentially dummy rounds to allow dry fire without damaging the firing pin or to mix with live rounds to force malfunction drills. In this case we were required to have 5 snap caps, 3 mags and live rounds. We swapped these with another student and loaded a mixture of live/dummy rounds. Then when we shot we weren’t sure if/when a malfunction would occur. Not every mag was fully loaded and not every mag had to contain a snap cap.

After all 8 students had exhausted all magazines there was a mix of snap caps and brass all over the range floor. I wasn’t quick enough at spotting snap caps on the floor. The result: I was down 3 snap caps at the end of the night. At $3 apiece I wasn’t too happy about that.

I bought another 5 snap caps from the instructors and asked for suggestions to avoid this in the future. One of the instructors suggested I mark my snap caps. She mentioned the words “fingernail polish”.

I’m not a fingernail polish kind of girl. I have painted my nails a few times in the past but I can chip them in an hour flat and don’t see the point. I’m setting the stage for what comes next…

I bought bright green paint. I painted a band around the long part of the snap cap. My thought process was this: I could spot my rounds before I ever picked them up. I let them dry for 45 minutes. The bottle advised 10 minutes for nails so this seemed sufficient.

I loaded a mag and intended on practicing tactical reloads and slidelock reloads. That never happened. The slide would not budge. I loaded one round and that “painted it shut”.

This was on a Thursday night. I had my last class Saturday evening. I was trying to figure out who I could get to look at the gun on Friday and if it was still stuck, what I could use in class instead. It was not a happy evening.

I lucked out and the gun smith at the range I frequent was in on Friday. He works part-time so I was feeling lucky. I had to take time off work and endure a bit if humiliation, but he forced the slide open and cleaned the barrel for me. He showed me two handed technique he used: rocking the barrel until it popped open.

Of course, my instructor happened to stop by the shop while I was getting this issue addressed. Of course.

But I learned a good lesson. I have a great story to tell. And I made a new friend. The gun smith is never going to forget me.

What did I do with the new snap caps: I painted the ends where the firing pin hits. I used a very thin coat of paint and let them dry over night. I came home form the last class with all of my snap caps!

MY red snap caps with green bases!








It started with a simple thought: “use it or lose it”

I bought a small revolver many years ago on impulse. Early this year I was on yet another crusade to purge things from my home that were not being used when I considered this pistol. As with many things I’d collected over the years, I asked the question, “Are you going to use it or are you going to get rid of it?”  I’d asked many friends over the years to take me shooting but the few trips I’d made to a range were rare and not recent. This year I decided to stop waiting on “someone else” and to take matters in my own hands. I decided to become proficient and learn to shoot.

My journey started by reaching out to my social network to ask for recommendations on a basic pistol class. I selected an NRA First Steps Pistol class at the county range. I came home after class quite giddy and knew I wanted to learn more, much more.

This blog is the story of the journey that followed that first class.