…and that’s really the heart of everything – what happens after “ready, aim”?
So I’m not particularly interested in guns. As a matter of fact, I’ve been pretty vehemently against gun ownership as a general rule for the average American idiot, because I’m fairly convinced that most people who own guns for “safety” or some other seemingly logical (on paper) but completely irrational (in reality) reason are more than likely UNprepared for the kind of potential threat that their purported method of “protection” provides them.
Case in point: I once dated a guy who owned three guns. One he kept under his bed (loaded); one he kept in his closet (loaded), and one he kept in his garage (for show, naturally). But this same guy could sleep through his fire alarm beeping, a ringing doorbell and a livid girlfriend (yours truly) banging on the door at 3AM when she’d inadvertently been locked out. So the thing is, while these fabulously oiled, locked and loaded guns lay at the ready in case of home invasion and offered the facade of personal protection…I have to say that had I been a savvier lock-picker I could have been in the door and probably next to him in the bed before he would have noticed. And had I been an intruder, I could have probably grabbed his own gun and pointed it at him before he would have woken. Scary thoughts, to say the least.
Fortunately, I haven’t had any negative experience with guns, but I haven’t had any positive either. And when my girlfriends suggested something “different” to do for a little girls’ night out – something “other than happy hour” – and the shooting range came up, I was initially a little hesitant. But, I’ve always had a fear of guns because I have no knowledge of them, and I don’t like being afraid. So I said yes, and our excursion to the firing range began.
Eliza, Barbie and I ended up being the only three of our friends that could (or were willing to) make it, and it was perfect. It was supposed to be Ladies’ Night at the range, so we figured we would be in good company (i.e., we wouldn’t feel like complete idiots). But, when we walked up to the desk at Wade’s Eastside Gun Shop in Bellevue, the (male) cashier gave us a full up-and-down once-over and said, “So…what brings you ladies to the gun range?”, at which point it was all we could do to not burst into nervous giggles and give ourselves away as girly little newbs. We explained, with as few sorority-isms as possible, that we were “new” (duh) and looking to “try it out” (our cashier visibly restrained himself from rolling his eyes) and that we wanted a gun without “too much kick” (at which point we were assigned a Glock 9mm).
Some poor guy was given the task of teaching us girls how to load, handle and fire a gun. Really, he should have been delighted (um, hel-LO, two cute blondes and a brunette!) but I got the feeling he probably would rather have been getting a root canal than working with us. However, a cute girls are wont to do, we won him over with our charm…the “charm” being that every one of us was determined to be a responsible shot. And, we ended up being surprisingly decent shots as well (I’m not sure if we or they were more surprised by that). So we were grateful for their patience in working with us (and loved our tour of the members’ area at the end!).
Back to the lane.
So Ryan showed us all the mechanics of the gun. How to load, how to grip, how to aim, how to stand and ultimately, how to fire. Out of the three of us, I had by far the hardest time getting the grip right…until, with a simple photographer’s test*, we discovered that I’m actually a leftie! (Who knew?! I am right-hand dominant in literally everything else, except handwriting and shoving food down my throat.) And once we discovered that…damn. It was alarming how comfortable that powerful weapon felt in my hands.
But I was nervous. We all were. Actually, “nervous” may not be the right word. We were all cognizant – very much so – of the fact that we were handling a loaded weapon…which I think, ironically, is how I was able to be comfortable with shooting the thing. I mean, you’re holding a GUN. Guns kill people. You see them on TV, in movies, in the news, but you don’t think much about it until one is in your hands…and you know the repercussions of the slightest misstep with it.
So, after a very patient Ryan had gone over (…and over…and over…) the grip, loading, and handling with me, I stepped up to take my shot. I sweated, I fogged up my glasses, my arms shook and my stance was uncomfortable at best, but I put my index finger on the trigger and pulled it back millimeter by millimeter and then…I fired. It shocked the hell out of me, but I fired that little Glock and damn if I didn’t hit the target pretty close to where I aimed. Whoa. And I thought about it, and I readjusted my sweaty grip and lined up my sights and slowly pulled the trigger and fired again. And again, and again, and again, until I wasn’t shaking every time I held the gun, and my accuracy began to improve.
And you know what? It felt GOOD.
So here’s the lesson. Here’s what I came away with (besides shaky arms). Sometimes, you just have to aim and effing fire. It wasn’t perfect, and it wasn’t easy…but it was well thought-out before it happened. I did all the things you were supposed to do to make it as accurate as possible, and at the end of the day, what would have been the point of all that effort just to put the gun down and say, “Not this time”? This girls’ night out made me realize how often we set everything up just right, only to change our minds at the last second. A modicum of caution is always advisable before firing, but – when aiming at the right target – at what point do you just grab the damn thing and go for it?
So for 2011, I’m going to be firing a lot more. I won’t be making rash decisions, but I’ll be using the resources available to me to make sure that when I’m ready to go, the shot’s the best that it can be.
At the end of the day, isn’t that all we can do? Ready, aim…
*Photographer’s test: Hold your thumb out in front of you, and use it to “cover” some object at some distance away. Close your right eye. Then close your left. Did you thumb “move” in your line of sight? If it did, then you are dominant in the OPPOSITE eye you had closed when your thumb didn’t move. My photographer friends are full of all kinds of useful information.