growing up, i never thought i’d ever see a gun in real life (only murderers have guns!), let alone handle and fire one. but in Pennsylvania, do as the Pennsylvanians do, i say. (though i do have friends who shoot back home, which i forgot about.) and so, two of them took me to go to a shooting range down by the Delaware border. i had a chance to go shoot guns in early high school when i was a boy scout (a failed experiment if there ever was one), but didn’t like the idea of firearms so never went on that trip.
walking into the shooting range you are first hit with a row of stuffed animals (not the kind you give to a kid to sleep with) and a big showroom of bullets, guns, knives, and all the accessories you’ll need in order to wield a weapon. daunting, to say the least, for someone who has primarily only seen guns on TV and in movies. i mean, really. GUNS GUNS GUNS GUNS! ALL GUNS ALL THE TIME! (i would have taken pictures, but there was a big “No Cellphones Allowed” sign.)
since i’m always down for an adventure, this didn’t stop me, but just made me more aware of what a popular sport(? pasttime? hobby?) this is. for sure, i was scared to fire a gun, and the training lesson by the range officer (safety + how to load + how to fire + how to work the target track thingy) that went by too quickly to fully comprehend didn’t help, either. all i knew was that the gun should always be pointed downrange and when i was done, the slider would be in the back position. i’d chosen a Glock 9mm since really, this was the only gun i’d ever heard of.
after loading the bullets the wrong way and wondering why the magazine wouldn’t go into the gun, i managed to get it all going. bullets in the gun, target mounted on the holder and whizzed back to about 6 yards, gun in my hands (whether or not i held it correctly is definitely debatable). weapon up, sights aligned, and slowwwlllyyy squeeeeeeeze.
i was so scared. what if i loaded the gun incorrectly? what if it exploded in my hands? what if i somehow flinch as it fires, sending a bullet into the ceiling? my friends were all in different lanes and who knows if the range officer was watching me like a hawk. the worst part (that i still haven’t gotten over) is that you really have to pull a lot further back than expected before the gun fires.
it fired, and it went into the target! muahahaha. well, it didn’t go where i wanted because i didn’t know how to aim (later figured it out), but still. no accidents! i had to keep telling myself that if there were tweens there shooting guns, i clearly could do it. i loaded five rounds into the clip each time and before i knew it, i was done with 25.
i switched to the other target i bought which a friend shot with me (i was the one with better aim ;)). before i knew it, 50 rounds, gone.
when all was said and done, we went through 100 rounds (split partially with friend) over a couple more targets and i also shot a Glock .40 and a revolver that some other friends had in another lane. before i got there i thought i’d only want to shoot maybe 10 rounds at most — i mean, who needs more than that? but dang you go through 10 in no time at all. loads of “serious fun”, as a friend calls it. i’m definitely doing this again!
the best part, though? seeing an old granny (who i thought was pretty betty white-ish) shoot single-handed from a holster — not just her right hand, but her left as well (or vice versa, if she was left-handed)! i didn’t catch this, but apparently she’d shoot one clip (using a single hand), drop it out and shove another in lickety-split with the other, and continue shooting. such a BAMF. such. a. BAMF. didn’t even use printed targets at times, just the cardboard backing.
i later came to learn (from a friend who figured out based on her holster?) that she was a member of the US Practical Shooting Association and probably competed. hot damn. that’s my kind of grandma!
edit: i love it! just two days later, my girl Terry Gross had a whole Fresh Air episode on the Glock! and it’s so true, it’s America’s gun of choice, and mine (since really, like i said, it’s the only gun i knew by name). too bad she didn’t come to the gun range on sunday to do some field research, though i’d prefer to meet her under different circumstances.