Tuesday, February 28, 2012

arking Things Off the List - Learn to Shoot a Gun

Learn to shoot a gun - Completed in October 2010

I don't like guns. I never have. Frankly, they scare the crap out of me. I do not come from a family that enjoys hunting, or being outdoors for the matter. I have never understood the appeal of the NRA, or the whole "From my cold dead hands" hoopla. I'm not anti-gun, I just didn't get what the big deal was. Or maybe it was because the only times I have been exposed to guns was by rednecks or pushy republicans :)
One of the reasons I started this list was because I wanted to face my fear of things I have always been afraid to do. Shooting a gun was a big thing on that list.
Before this day, I had held a gun three times in my life. The first time, I was about 15, working in my dads dental office. He had a patient, who's name I can't remember, but I will never forget. He was a very large man, with such bad emphysema he had to be on oxygen constantly and carried the tank around on his back. Due to his weight and his health, I remember he could barely walk, but he always carried a little tote bag that said "Smokers Rights" on the side. I still find it amazing that a man who let such a horrible habit destroy his life, still believed in fighting for the "rights of the smoker".
Anyway, one day I remember my dad was talking to him about his little bag, turned out it's where he kept his little gun. He kept it in a case, unloaded, but explained it was for protection in case someone attacked him. How a man in his condition would be able to get the gun out, load it and be ready before his attacker was to him is beyond me. He asked if I wanted to hold it, I didn't really want to but my dad encouraged me. I remember I was so nervous my hand shook holding that gun (it was something like a 22) and it scared me. I gave it back as quickly as possible.
The next time I held a gun was at my dads house in Virginia. My step-mom had me hold her new 357 magnum she had bought. That is a big freaking gun. Plus in my little hands (no really, they are strangely small) it looked even bigger. Thankfully she didn't ask if I wanted to shoot it, I probably would have peed myself.
The last time I held a gun was at my friend Melissa Williamsons apartment this year. Melissa was a cop for 10 years so she knew exactly what she was doing and was very confident, which put me at ease. She made sure the gun was unloaded and showed me the correct way to hold it. It only lasted a few minutes, but my hands didn't shake and I felt ok with it. Just not ok enough to shoot it.
When Melissa came into town last week, I asked if she would be willing to teach me. She took me, along with Lauren Woodbury, to an indoor shooting range in Aurora called the Firing Line. I was nervous, much more than I let on, but I was determined not to back out. Mel gave me her basic "Don't be a dumbass" rules for handling a gun, which were;
1. Always treat a gun as if it's loaded
2. Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot
3. Be aware of your target and beyond
4. Don't point the gun at anything that you don't want to destroy
Mel bought a few paper targets (the big ones that look like the upper body of a person) then showed us how it's done. She is a very good shot, which is a good thing since she is a cop. Then it was my turn. I pointed and tried not to hesitate or close my eyes. Baby steps, get the first shot out of the way. Guns are loud, even with my oh so sexy ear protection, it was loud. I knew there would be a kickback, but I prepared myself for the worst (meaning movie quality where I'm thrown back 5 feet into the window) but it wasn't as bad as I thought. I tried a few more shots, no idea if I was hitting the target at all, but just happy I hadn't freaked out. I thought I was aiming at the right spot, but Mel pointed out that I kept hitting the guy in the crotch. Hmmmm, still a good shot I guess. Mel figured out I was left eye dominant, so when I started closing my right eye to shoot, my aim improved drastically. I started hitting the chest and head, and a few groin shots just for fun :)
Now to answer the question everyone keeps asking. I shot a 40 milometer gun, I thought that would be more than enough information, but apparently not. They would ask, what kind of gun (didn't I just say 40mm? Is that not right?) then I would just stare at them with a confused look, trying desperately to figure out what kind of information they wanted. I would say a handgun, still not enough information. Seriously people?? Apparently I was supposed to know the make, model and every detail about this gun or I would look like a complete moron. So here is what I know. It was a gun, it fit in my hand, it was black, it shot bullets, it went bang. That's about all I care about. If you want more information, you'll have to ask someone else.
One lesson I learned the hard way is that shells are very hot right after they've been shot. I learned this when I shot and a shell came to rest right at the base of my neck on my shoulder and decided to hang out for a bit. It hurt. Another one headed for my cleavage (just another thing I can add to my list of weird things I have found in my cleavage) but thankfully landed on top of my shirt, still pretty warm though.
Remember how I said most of my exposure to guns was from redneck people? A few lanes down were some teenagers (who I would be willing to bet drove a truck with a confederate flag in the back window) shooting guns. They had these little paper targets with squirrels on them. While I was shooting, all of a sudden I hear this BOOM, it was so loud. I step back to see those kids are doing target practice with a 357 magnum! It practically ripped the target off the hooks. They thought it was hilarious, I thought that they probably found their cousins very attractive.
For the first half of shooting, I wasn't having a very good time. I was still really nervous, but I kept at it. By the end, I actually started enjoying myself. I was extremely excited that I kept hitting the target, even if everyone else there was using targets 1/4 the size of mine.
So all in all, it was a pretty good experience and something I would like to do again. But don't expect me to run out and buy a gun anytime soon :)

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