Differences Between Basic Pistol 1 and Beginner Pistol

We are frequently asked about the differences between Basic Pistol 1, Basic Pistol 2 and Beginner Pistol.

Beginner Pistol
Basic Pistol 1
Basic Pistol 2
5 hours
3 hours
4 hours
Class size
6 maximum
12 maximum
16 maximum
Instructor/student ratio, classroom
3:12 (1:4)
4:16 (1:4)
Instructor/student ratio, shooting range
1:1 (3 shooters per relay)
4:8 (1:2)
NRA Basic Pistol Handbook included
Number of rounds fired
Loaner guns provided
yes but recommend student use own gun
primary caliber fired
.22 LR
9mm, .38 spl or greater
number of gun models shot
Target types
Steel and paper
Stationary steel
Paper (CHL target)
Shooting exercises
Two handed standing position target shooting, no time limit
Two handed standing position target shooting, no time limit
Two handed defensive shooting, timed and untimed. Simulation of portions of CHL shooting test.

The focus in Beginner Pistol is skills development: learning how to manipulate the gun and learn marksmanship fundamentals by shooting drills with a small caliber, low noise/low recoil handgun. Graduates of Beginner Pistol should be able to safely handle, operate and shoot a .22 caliber pistol on their own after completion of the class.

The focus of Basic Pistol 1 is mainly on assisting students in making an intelligent gun selection choice, with lecture material and range time emphasizing gun features and differences in action types. Graduates of Basic Pistol 1 learn enough to be able to accompany a more experienced shooter to a range for additional shooting practice.

Graduates of Basic Pistol 2 learn the knowledge, skills and attitude necessary to safely handle, operate and shoot a defensive caliber handgun on their own. Additionally graduates of BP2 learn how to shoot under time pressure and learn how to quickly get their gun from a 'ready' position to the target, which is an essential skill for the CHL test and for personal defense.