Your first firearm can be intimidating, especially when it’s a handgun you intend to carry for personal protection. And there’s no shortage of people, at gun ranges or on Internet forums, who think they can, and should, teach you the basics of responsible firearm ownership and operations. Their lessons are always free and usually worth every penny. If only real expertise were as affordable and easy to find. Well, if you have access to the internet, it is: At Glock’s Pistols 101, the accurate, knowledgeable advice is just a mouse click away—and it’s free.

Glock knows that a happy customer is a well-informed, trained and confident gun owner. To that end, Glock developed a simple, accurate and interactive program for its website that does a lot more than simply remind you to be a safe and responsible gun owner—it gives you the knowledge to be one. “We believe that the first step to being a responsible gun owner is knowing how to handle your firearm safely,” Glock said.

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Glock’s Pistols 101 is a web-based interactive tutorial that takes people, regardless of their experience level with firearms, through a simple, accurate and informative course of study. While the basic handgun course caters to new firearms owners, Pistols 101 speaks to every level of experience, providing a solid, factual introduction to the firearms world for newbies and a quick refresher on the basics for the experienced. To gauge user satisfaction, I recently had a chance to talk with one of Glock’s newest customers, Jessica Bowling of Virginia, who now owns a Glock 42 in .380 ACP.

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Bowling’s motivation for buying a handgun was one shared by a lot of people. “When I had my son, all my maternal instincts kicked in,” Bowling said. “It was something I knew I needed to do.” Bowling said she chose Glock over a wide-open field of handgun choices because of its construction and ergonomics.

“I chose a Glock because I liked the way it felt in my hands and the overall look of it. I tried out a few different firearms before deciding on the Glock.”

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Bowling said she ultimately decided to go with the G42, the smallest Glock in production today, because, as she says, “it gave me the most control, and I shot more accurately because of the confidence that control gave me.”

“I know Glock is used by law enforcement,” she added, “and that in and of itself made me feel like it’s the most reliable.” Not having had much prior experience with firearms, Bowling was eager to give Pistols 101 a try.

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The program is divided into four basic sections: Learn Gun Safety, Learn About Handguns, Learn About Ammo and Learn About The Process. Because Pistols 101 is internet-based, students can choose when and at what pace to take a class. Every section is repeatable. Bowling said she found the tutorial immediately helpful. “I liked that it’s easily accessible and visually easy to read through. Sometimes information like this can get wordy and overwhelming. This is broken down very nicely, making it a very easy read.”

For a newcomer like Bowling, it’s critical that the information be presented thoroughly but clearly—and on that score, among others, Pistols 101 succeeds. “I thought the educational program was extremely informative. It broke down the information in a way that someone with limited experience could easily walk away remembering what they’ve learned. It’s not filled with intimidating jargon and acronyms. The terms they use are explained thoroughly and the information builds nicely.”

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Here’s what Bowling had to say about each section of Pistols 101:

Learn Gun Safety: “I noticed Rule 9: ‘Ensure all users are properly trained.’ This may seem terrifying to you, my listing this as something new I learned. It’s not necessarily something I didn’t know, but it was a nice reminder because it’s not usually something you think about. It’s something many people assume: ‘You’re an adult, you probably get the concept.’ That’s not a safe practice, though. As you know, there’s much more to a firearm, and I’ll make sure that I give a quick rundown of my Glock before ever handing it to someone to shoot.”

Learn About Handguns: “I found [the tutorial on the pistol’s action] to be extremely helpful, and in a sense, it’s probably the most important thing to know about a gun. It’s something I hear people refer to, but I’ve never fully grasped the concept. I get it now. Thanks, Pistols 101!”

Learn About Ammo: “I didn’t know how ammunition is measured. This was a lifelong mystery to me. Ammunition is measured by the bullet’s diameter. I’m going to impress my husband with all this new knowledge.”

Learn The Process: “In this portion of the course, it says, ‘Know your laws.’ I think this is probably the most important thing to take away from the training. Knowing your firearm is important, but knowing when and where you can use it could be the difference between saving a life or spending your life in jail.”

Helpful How-Tos

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While Pistols 101 is simple, Bowling felt the course was worthwhile. “I thought each section covered as much as it possibly could. I’m confident any new firearm user would be able to walk away from this tutorial with a complete understanding of how their gun works, how to use it safely and how to keep it working properly.

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“Firearms are intimidating,” said Bowling. “They’re supposed to be, but they are just like anything else. The more you practice with them, the more comfortable you will get. This is another step in helping me feel comfortable with my firearm. It took a little more mystery out of it for me, and that makes it seem more manageable and a little less scary. The unknown is what’s scary, so I would encourage not only women, but all firearm owners, to utilize this tutorial.”

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