A blank pistol is a crucial tool in gun dog training. They're used
to both acclimate a pup to the sharp report of gunfire, and to
simulate gunshots during certain parts of hunt tests and trials.
These blank guns are sometimes referred to as "starter guns" because
their sharp report is a popular way to start athletes in track, field,
and swimming competitions.
Though makes, models, and blank (ammo) types vary, these tools have
several things in common. Typically, the blank gun is shaped to look
and handle similarly to a small-frame real revolver. Some manufacturers
are shifting to a more politically correct appearing devices that don't
resemble firearms - the better to sell them to track coaches who need
to use them on school grounds without alarming uninformed parents.
Most gun dog trainers are regular shooters themselves, and actually
prefer a blank pistol that feels and behaves like a familiar sidearm. In
fact, some of the best starter pistols are made by companies that simply
adapt the design of an actual, functional revolver to create a version
that cannot use real cartridges.
That said, blank guns can still be very dangerous. Whether the gun is
designed to shoot shotgun primers, .22-short blanks, or .32 blanks,
it absolutely can cause pain or hearing damage for either you, people standing
nearby, or any dogs in the area.
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