Since making This List, I’ve prefaced a lot of things with “I’ve always wanted to [fill in blank here.]” And for a lot of things on This List, that is true. I even described my newest accomplishment the same way. “I’ve always wanted to (#6) shoot a handgun!” But that’s not entirely true. Most of my life I’ve been terrified of guns and never wanted to touch one. But in the past few years that has changed. I still believe in gun control to a certain extent, but as I met people who owned guns and made valid arguments as to why, my super leftist liberal attitude about the evil of guns wavered. At one point I thought I should know how to shoot a gun in the event I would need to defend or protect myself. Though that kind of situation is unlikely to occur, especially since the two places I spend most of my time are On My Couch and In a Place That Can Provide Me with Ice Cream. But I still thought it would be a cool experience. And it was!
So, List Item #6: Shoot a Handgun has officially been accomplished! Kyle graciously offered to take me as he has been shooting before (is that the right phrase for it??) and knew of a place close to his house. So, we set a date and started a countdown. We were both super excited! When I got to his house, he was already halfway out the door and locking it, ready to go!
We went to French Creek Outfitters and the people there were so helpful. I immediately blurted out this was my first time like a nervous kid on her first day of school. Admittedly, guns still scare me a whole lot, so I wanted to get it out there that I was inexperienced and needed to know all necessary information so that I didn’t shoot someone in the foot…or worse. The guy was very understanding and walked me through everything I needed to know and do. So after the tutorial of the kind of gun we were using, how to load the ammo, and turn the safety on and off, we were ready to go. I still asked him to come in with us and show us pretty much everything again though. Which he was happy to do for us. J
So Kyle and I both donned our safety glasses (which were not unlike Worley’s glasses…swoon!) and the headphone silency things. There were a couple people already in the pistol range shooting. I had heard them as we were outside of the range getting our tutorial, but the noise was about a million times louder inside the range. The second we walked in, there was a shot and I jumped and managed to keep my primal scream to a quiet “oh my goodness!” I’d say for a good ten minutes, I jumped every single time someone shot. And within that ten minutes, I’d say that probably happened close to 25 times. I could not get used to it. I was afraid I would be unable to shoot my own gun because of my newfound flinching problem. But luckily before too long the jumping and flinching turned into a simple blink at the shots. I never did get completely used to it. It made me think of all the places in the world where gunshots (or worse) are normal everyday sounds and people are forced to normalize that. I imagine they must force their minds to believe that gunshots, bombs, and other noises that signify killing are normal, and therefore okay. I imagine one has to work to convince him/herself often. I imagine that takes an immense emotional toll on a person.
So, it was my turn after Kyle shot up a paper target pretty good. He helped me load the gun, reminded me of everything the guy had already told us twice, which I was glad he did, and glad he didn’t wait for me to ask for yet another reminder of the instructions. And so I put the back of the handle into the webbing between my right thumb and forefinger, kept my trigger finger straight and off the trigger, wrapped my left hand around as instructed, flipped the safety off. I looked down the barrel of the gun, and did my best to focus on the front focus point of the gun. I did my best to keep that focus just under the target. I did my best to stand still and keep my arms straight, but not lock my elbows. I did my best to not shake. Then I did my best to figure out just how much squeezed pressure it was going to take to actually shoot that gun. I took a barely noticeable deep breath and began pulling on the trigger. Slow, slow…BAM! The shell came out the side and hit the wall next to me, I saw a small hole in the paper target (nowhere near the bullseye, but I hit the paper!), and immediately put the unexpectedly heavy gun down and realized how tense my entire body was. (I eventually figured out that was mostly because I held my breath the entire time I was shooting.)
But I did it! I made it through the first shot. I almost felt like I was done until Kyle told me to keep going. Oh right – there’s so much more shooting to do! It took awhile for me to get over the sensation of shooting before I could focus on making the target, but eventually I did okay. Kyle, of course did much better, hitting a bullseye at least twice. Though, I did hit very close once when Kyle promised to buy me ice cream if I hit the bullseye. What can I say? I am very motivated by ice cream.
So now, I have shot a handgun. I would like to do it again sometime. The gun we were using was good for beginners, but I would like to shoot one of those cute little revolvers like in the movies. Haha! Oh mainstream American media, how you have molded me so! But that, of course, is for another time. Below are some documented images from our adventure. (Photo credit: iKyle)
A special thank you goes out to Kyle who made this dream come true! And as always, thanks to all of you for reading and for encouraging me on my adventures here!