Monday, November 5, 2012

Well, shoot.

Before I cause any unnecessary panic, let me begin by stating that no animals were harmed in the making of this blog post. And that animals is a group that includes myself and other humans.

I fired a gun for the first time on Saturday. My boyfriend, ex-military man and expert marksman (in Battlefield: Bad Company 2) decided he wanted to have some real-world practice and invited me to come along. A bit curious, and wanting to be able to defend myself in the event of an apocalypse (as long as it's not a zombie one—I am boycotting the whole zombie mania!), I did just that.

We were totally clueless when we arrived at Gilbert's Indoor Range, and we stood around at the counter feeling awkward for what felt like ever! Rico kept asking me which gun I wanted to try, which was an overwhelming question considering the racks and racks of firearms that I had to choose from. But once we sat down with our safety quizzes in hand and began watching the orientation video, I relaxed. If there's one thing I'm good at, it's taking quizzes.

Back at the counter, Rico asked for a bolt-action rifle (which he'd never tried) and told the clerk, "I think she'd like to try a revolver." I hadn't known I wanted to try a revolver (actually, I'd always thought I'd prefer a rifle myself, but I wasn't about to start an argument in a gun shop!). However, out of all the weapons in the case, I'd been most drawn to (or perhaps I should say least intimidated by) a wood-handled revolver, which looked exactly like what was given to me. So I guess Rico knew what he was talking about.

When it was time to be the firing squad, I was terrified the gun was going to blow up in my hand. So I bravely let my boyfriend try it first. Once I was confident that it was loaded correctly, I gave it a shot. Literally.

It's not at all like the movies. In the movies, they're always handing out guns to complete newbies, and the newbies are like, what? A gun? But then they shoot it and they do fine—and they never grip the gun too high and get whacked in the hand when it reloads itself or get hit in the face with spent cartridges—both of which were things I fortunately didn't experience with my old-school revolver, but which I was told about in orientation or witnessed happening to other people with semi-automatic weapons.

And in the movies, even the newbies' aim is spot on, but in reality, your hand shakes so much, you can't even keep the gun steady on the target when you're not trying to fire, and just pulling the trigger (you really have to put some muscle into it) is enough to throw off whatever aim you've managed to achieve—and all this is with a two-handed grip! I can't imagine ever holding a gun in just one hand and being able to hit anything smaller than the broad side of a barn. When I was trying to shoot, in order to hit the target, I had to spend several seconds trying to get my wildly wobbling weapon under control. I definitely would be totally useless (dead) in an apocalypse.

And it turns out, I didn't prefer the rifle, either. When I fired the handgun, it went "pop." When I fired the rifle, it went "boom." Everyone in the place jumped—or at least looked around. The movies don't tell you these things either—when you shoot a large-caliber rifle, you feel like you've just shot yourself. The recoil was so intense that Rico kept knocking himself in the glasses with the scope (does this sound like a certain Christmas Story or what?).

When we were done, the entire outing had cost us around 100$ to rent the firearms and purchase the ammunition and 15$ each for a guest membership, and was followed up with a warning to wash our hands and faces so we didn't bring lead poisoning home with us.

So I think I can safely say I'll never become a card carrying member of the NRA, but I'm glad for that learning experience. I was able to finally confirm that I'm not a natural-born marksman, and I'll probably be one of the first to die in the looting following a global disaster. Knowledge is power, right?

P.S. There's another thing they don't tell you, and that's how loud a bunch of guns sound when they're going off all around you! At one point, I took off my ear protection because I needed to adjust it, and within 2 seconds, I thought I would go deaf.