guns & lace

It’s a rainy and surprisingly cool Monday here in a capital slogging through August and reeling from Michelle Bachmann’s straw poll win.  I had a pretty eventful weekend, meeting tons of new people and finally getting my headstand in Saturday’s yoga class.  Also of note was my very first (and probably only) time at the local shooting range.  Surprise!–socially liberal Jen lost her pistol and rifle virginity in a two hour shooting bonanza, and emerged a considerably more bad-ass woman than before.

Shooting has been something that has gradually crept its way onto and up my bucket list, due in some part (I believe) to the large number of ex-military men I work with.  My coworker Suzannah, of Canadian embassy fame, has a Marine boyfriend who reluctantly allowed me to tag along on their shooting adventures.  I met them at their gym out in Courthouse and even earned my seat in their car by loading ammo in preparation.

suzannah surrounded by bullets

I had been running errands all day, and had absolutely ZERO idea what one wears to a shooting range, so I was in a lovely lace tank and leopard flats.  Needless to say, when we all got to the range, I was the obvious answer to a game of “What does not belong?” 

no shame

Now, I had never in my life shot a weapon.  I had never even held a gun.  I was beyond nervous–I was so worried that I would be the one airhead girl who fell over from the gun recoil, like in that “How I Met Your Mother” episode where Marshall goes shooting to get over Lily.  I don’t think my heart stopped pounding until I got back in my apartment that night. 

Luckily, Suzannah’s boyfriend was a great teacher.  (He also owns any gun one person could ever want to shoot.)  He started me off with a teeny little .22 caliber (get ready for all my newfound gun lingo!) and it took me about 7 minutes of standing completely still with that gun before I could actually fire it.

Aaaannddd–TA-DA!  Weapon fired.  It was scary.  There are a lot of things one has to think about when shooting a gun, and keeping everything together while pulling the trigger is no easy feat.  But, I did it.  I fired three bullets over 15 minutes, to the exasperation of Suzannah’s boyfriend and the rest of our party, and never once fell over or waved the gun around in a panic, like I thought I might have done.

I moved on to a .380, the gun made famous by James Bond.  I actually didn’t like this one very much, so I fired my one little bullet and then let someone else have all the fun.  Suzannah persuaded me to try the Glock 9 mm next, and after I fired that big guy, I felt the line on my Bad-Ass-o-Meter rise considerably. 

My arms were hurting from holding the guns for so long, so I took a little break.  When I came back, it was rifle time!

shooting the M3

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I loved the rifles.  The way they nestle right into the crook of your shoulder, the cold metal soothing against your hot cheek, an anticipatory breathe of air leaving the barrel right before you pull the trigger.  The recoil is absorbed by your body, a relationship forged between you and the bullet as it begins its deathly journey.  An exhilarating boom! that reaches your ears only after the bullet has hit the target; an afterthought that brings you out of your gunpowder-induced reverie.  A few more hours with those rifles and I would have been a partner in a full-fledged love affair.

suzannah with her rifle

I shot an M3, an M4 (the only one with a holigraphic sight, therefore the only one with which I could hit the little target man), and an AK-47.  I rule.

shooting the M4

Let me tell you: when I shot the AK-47, I felt like a freaking movie star.  My elation dimmed slightly when I opened the paper this morning and saw that the attacks on the governor of Parwan in Afghanistan were done with AK-47s, but I was blissful in my ignorance on Saturday.

shooting the AK-47

I fired one shot, then, stunned by the groups of people I had joined by firing that weapon, I set it down.  (Not before another photo, though!)

On our way home, I spent a little time reflecting on my time at the shooting range.  One girl in our party, upon hearing the rapid fire of an M14, loudly exclaimed, “This is against my religion!”  Despite my lack of religiousness, I felt that her sentiment came the closest to summing up my feelings.  Shooting guns is, without a doubt, one of the most exhilarating things I’ve ever done.  (See also skydiving.)  I honestly had a great time, and was so glad I took the plunge and just went for it.  That being said, however, I felt that there was something innately wrong with my casual firing off of a few rounds.  Perhaps it was the fact that we were shooting at disarmingly life-like sketches of men, but it was hard for me to ignore the little voice in my head reminding me that these guns were meant to kill people.   Yes, I felt like a superstar shooting all the different guns, but I also felt like I was partaking in an unnecessarily vicious and altogether unrequired activity.  It scared me to see a young boy, probably under the age of ten, helping his father load bullets and fetch guns.  At what point does a person lose their awe of and respect for weapons?  In swimming, the more I swam a 1650 in practice, the less nervous I was when it came time to swim a mile at a meet.  Can a person go to a shooting range so many times that the line between sport and real life disappears? 

I don’t want to step on any toes with my musings, especially Suzannah’s boyfriend and the wonderful people who protect our country every day by firing their weapons.  But it was scary to me to think about what those weapons I was firing could become in an entirely different situation– the idea of becoming dependant on such a ruthless tool is frightening to a sheltered little lady like myself.

I loved my time at the shooting range–and I got to check another activity off my bucket list.  Learning about all the guns and their idiosyncrasies was very interesting and enlightening (and BAD-ASS!), but I don’t know that I’ll ever go shooting again.  One of those things where now that it’s done–it’s done.

On the 100% upside, however: I now have enough bullet casings to make this fabulous DIY bullet necklace!  Wooo craft project!

Hope you all had a great weekend!  If you get a minute, I’m curious on your opinion of shooting for sport–leave me a comment!

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2 Responses

  1. Hi, Jen–
    I, too, would like to shoot those guns….once. But the target is disturbing–I wonder how people would respond if the target was a photograph of a real person. To own a firearm is a Constitutional right–but what do people do with rifles like those?? It’s clear they are for killing people, not your ordinary “hunting” rifle.
    I often wonder about the long term effect of violent videogames. The research I’ve looked at does not show a positive correlation to the player commiting violence. But I worry about the dehumanizing effect.

  2. Despite having said what I said earlier, you did look cool shooting the guns–like a movie star! Says a lot about how often guns are featured in movies.

    About looking like a bad-ass—girl, you’ve been a serious bad-ass in the pool for years!

    Are you trying to torture your mother? What’s next? A motorcycle? More tatoos? Driving a Formula One racecar on the Indianapolis Speedway? You are torturing me with envy–I’m still jealous over your ziplining adventure in Costa Rica!!

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