Everyone in our family knew how to shoot, including my mother and sister. My father, who was an active officer in the KGB of the USSR, believed that everyone in our family should know how to handle firearms, just in case.
Due to certain internal requirements of his organization, my father and his colleagues were required to undergo regular training and periodically pass shooting exams. As a result, my father would accumulate a considerable supply of ammunition every three months, and we would organize trips to secluded yet picturesque locations, where we would practice shooting with his standard-issue “Makarov” pistol.
Sometimes we would venture into mountain gorges, while other times we would choose the banks of a river or a clearing in the woods. We often combined shooting practice with hunting. Despite that, my father never took the life of any animal or bird, but he enjoyed the process itself.
Once, we even had a shooting session at our grandfather’s “phazenda” while he was still alive. As a former frontline soldier, upon hearing the shots and especially the whistling of ricochets, our grandfather quickly retreated through the “gardens,” utilizing the natural terrain features, which brought genuine amusement to his young offspring. We reminisced about it for a long time.
Apart from the “Makarov,” we also shot with the Kalashnikov, Mosin rifle, and SVD (Degtyaryov sniper rifle), but those were on border outposts and specially equipped shooting ranges and military training grounds.
The main rule that our father taught us was: One should address firearms using the formal “You” (in Russian, “Вы”).
Since childhood, we instilled in ourselves simple but essential safety rules: not to spin the loaded barrel, never point the firearm at living objects, and especially not to aim, even if the weapon is unloaded. We were taught to check the chamber, perform a control trigger pull upward after removing an empty magazine, and so on.
When my future wife Lena and I first visited my parents for summer vacation, she also underwent a “proficiency test.” We drove to the banks of a mountain river, designated a safe spot for the target, and my father briefly explained to Lena how to hold the pistol, how to pull the trigger, what not to do, and so on. To everyone’s surprise, my delicate bride scored an impressive 26 (9+8+9). My father couldn’t hide his genuine admiration. Against that backdrop, my score of 24 (8+8+8) seemed quite pale.
I didn’t have the opportunity to shoot a pistol in the army; I had a personal weapon there – a reliable and dependable 7.62mm Kalashnikov rifle. After the army, I fired a few shots at cans and empty bottles with a “TT” and a “Makarov” pistol, but there were no significant achievements, and as a result, I derived almost no pleasure from it.
Upon seeing an advertisement in Varna that a security agency offers its clients the opportunity to practice shooting with a combat pistol at a shooting range, I suddenly became interested and wanted to give it a try. And thus, a new passion was born.
I took my time choosing the right firearm. The Russian pistols like Makarov, TT, and Stechkin were not the best, to be honest. I tried American Ruger and Magnum (a .45 caliber revolver), but they didn’t quite suit me. The Magnum was a powerful weapon, but not particularly accurate. I also tried the Bulgarian Argus, which seemed reliable but a bit on the heavy side. Of course, I also tested the Austrian Glock – one in 9×19 caliber and the other in .45 caliber. The first one was good, I can’t deny that, but perhaps due to the plastic components, it didn’t appeal to me. The second one was modern, with minimal recoil despite its large bullet, but the grip was short and uncomfortable for my hand. I liked the Czech CZ – it was accurate and stylish. But in the end, I settled on the Spanish Astra A-100 model as my choice.
At first, I didn’t have precise shots in the “bullseye.” The standard distance of 25 meters for a pistol is quite substantial. Any slight jerking or hand movement during the shot results in a significant spread and deviation from the target.
Gradually, by practicing at the shooting range at least once a week, I began hitting the bullseye. Interestingly, in Europe, law enforcement officers who are required to periodically pass shooting tests must have at least 4 out of 6 shots in the black, regardless of whether the score is out of 6 or 10.
I usually use a box of 50 rounds of 9x19mm caliber ammunition for training. I load the magazine with 5 rounds and fire 25 shots at the right target and then 25 shots at the left target.
Within one year I learned. My best result is 16 tens out of 50 shots. The average is 8-11 tens and about 15-18 nines out of 50 shots.