Day Twenty-Nine. Bang. Bang.

April 15, 2011 § 6 Comments

Before Day Twenty-Nine, I don’t think I had so much as held a gun. Maybe a bee bee gun. But definitely NOT a semi automatic hand gun. So on that day, I took a basic firearms class and for the first time shot a weapon.

I signed up for a class the day before and showed up fifteen minutes early. The guy behind the counter told me I could sit in he lounge or shop around. I chose the plush leather chairs in a room off the side of the shop. Of course the flat screen on the wall was set to Fox News, blasting democrats for willfully sending the country into Government Shutdown. I don’t even think I’ve ever watched Fox News.

So a few minutes after the scheduled start time our long-haired, goateed instructor came in and gathered the three participants of the class. We followed him into a small room and sat behind a long table while he unloaded his bag of three empty guns, laid them out on the table in front of him, and passed out our course packets.

The class was to be four hours long, and safety covered the first hour and a half. By the end of that section, I had my doubts about wanting to be anywhere near a gun. Not necessarily because I didn’t think I could handle it, but because of all the other dumbasses who thought playing around with such a weapon was cool. Apparently a bullet shot from a semi automatic weapon can travel two and a half miles from its exit point and can flow through many different materials. Drywall, siding, people, water. So shooting a weapon into the air in celebration like so many of my neighbors do on random occasions is highly dangerous. What comes up…

By the time the moment came to actually hold a gun, I was more than a bit nervous. I walked to the gun counter, trying to keep all the safety procedures filed in my mind as I asked the clerk for an easy-to-use weapon. I chose the semi automatic Glock instead of the revolver (the two options). It seemed easier to use for some reason. I kept the muzzle pointed downward as I pretended to examine my weapon of choice. Looks good, I told the guy behind the counter. He rang me up for my ammunition (50 rounds) and I carefully took the gun, the magazine, and the ammo back to the classroom. I was very careful to keep my pointer finger away from the trigger as instructed. One of my classmates completely disregarded this piece of safety information, and although his weapon was obviously not loaded, I stayed clear of him.

Back in the schoolroom setting we tried a few dry fires, with no bullets and no magazine loaded. I took my stance, feet shoulder width apart, weight placed slightly on my back right leg to shoulder the blow of the recoil, and lined my arms up straight in front of me. I looked down the barrel of the gun to align the sight. And then the instructor told us to slowly pull the trigger. I don’t know what I was expecting, but all I got was a click. I breathed a sigh of relief. This wasn’t so bad.

After practicing sans ammunition for awhile, we assembled our noise blocking headphones and safety goggles on our head and trooped along to the shooting range with gun, ammo, and target safely grasped in our hands. Well, I was all safe, but dude who didn’t listen closely kind of held his unloaded weapon loosely by his side, hand through the trigger guard.

Mr. Goatee instructed us to lay our items on the table in front of us in our selected stall and attach the target to the hanging clips. Then we moved it into place only three feet in front of us. He reminded us how to load our ammo and we inserted one bullet into the magazine. When ready, I slowly pulled the trigger and…FLASH! A small explosion not a foot in front of my face projected the bullet through the middle of the target. I looked around in a burst of excitement to see the gun store employees kind of chuckling at us through the window. I’m pretty sure I was grinning madly. Even if the target was only three feet away, the hole made by the first round was pretty centered.

We reloaded and repeated the process. After about thee times, I found myself intently closing my eyes as I pulled the trigger, anticipating the bright flash and brief heat that comes after the finger squeeze. I tried a few dry fires to reaquaint myself with the idea of keeping my eyes open. It seemed to work, even if the action of being wide eyed while firing a weapon was incredibly unnatural.

By the end we were positioning the target where we wanted (I didn’t go further than 20 feet away) and firing five rounds in a go. I was having a little fun, and was less frightened than in the beginning. I did switch to dry fire several times when I felt my eyes unwillingly closing. The most dangerous occurrence was when the bullet casings would fly out of the gun and hit the top of the head or, a couple times, fly down my top. When I expressed this to the teach he made some sort of comment about not wearing low cut shirts. Seriously?! It was a V-Neck. I can’t wear t-shirts to work.

When we got back to the classroom, I counted the holes in my target. I had only missed the paper seven times. Not bad, I thought, until I realized how close the bulls-eye sheet had been. Still. I may have dropped the muzzle a little when firing, but the marks seemed pretty consistently no swaying from side to side (like the Unsafe Pupil).

Teacher dismantled the weapons and explained to us how to clean our guns. I wasn’t really listening as closely as before, more bathing in the realization that I had just shot a gun. The two other students had asked many questions during the lesson about defending yourself, and most of the example situations presented were when you would use a gun for self defense. But for me, it was much more like a sporting activity than a self defense tactic. I still don’t really plan on purchasing a gun. That was one of the first things burglars searched for when we had been broken into. It would, however, be cool to improve my aim. And that is what I liked about shooting a gun.

Now I want to try a revolver and maybe a shotgun. I’ve always fancied myself sitting in the country, hollering, “Pull” and blasting a clay pigeon. Any takers?


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§ 6 Responses to Day Twenty-Nine. Bang. Bang.

  • Rob Stokes says:

    Hey Laura, not sure if you remember me from Uni days in Sunderland? Loving the blog, been reading for the last week or so. You should definitely try clay shooting – I’m not into handguns (not really possible anyway since the ban in England) but I’ve been shooting with shotguns since I was 11. Mostly game (pheasant, duck, partridge, grouse, etc.) but also clay shooting and it’s a lot of fun. It attracts a different sort of person too so you don’t really get the “guns are cool” types. Or maybe that’s just here? Anyway, you should definitely give it a go. I used to go every week and it’s fun to see yourself improve. I also think it’s more fun than static target shooting thanks to the variety on offer. Hope all is well with you. Looking forward to the next post! Rob x

    • Laura says:

      Of course I remember you, Rob. Are you still trying to post a picture a day on your blog?
      I definitely want to try skeet shooting / clay pigeons at some point. Maybe once it gets a little cooler here…

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  • M Truelove says:

    Check out Tom Lowe’s Shooting Grounds in SW Atlanta- can both skeet AND trap shoot in one place! Shotgun shooting is fun.

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