Strangely, the Earth didn’t move.
Nor did I break out in a cold sweat, or get struck by a bolt of lightning.
I just shot my first-ever gun, that’s all.
I suppose this moment was inevitable – isn’t it just the natural progression of things when you date a man from Texas?
I kid, I kid.
Seriously, though, Robin Hood (who is from Texas) hunts with both bows and firearms, and for a while now has promised to take me shooting some day. I initially smiled and rolled my eyes at the idea, but gradually began to warm up to it. What can I say? I was curious, and apparently, archery is a gateway drug. Not to mention I have a couple of girl friends who own guns and who firmly maintain that all women should know how to shoot one. Feminism and learning a new skill make for quite an alluring combination.
After a couple of lessons from Robin Hood on the parts of a gun and how to safely handle one, “some day” became last weekend. I got in an early-morning run on Sunday – I figured if I was going to be handling firearms, I should have that calm, post-run mindset; also, if I accidentally shot myself in the toe, I could at least have my run for the day already taken care of. We met up with a group of friends and drove to an area that I believe is marked on official maps as “the boonies.” How remote, you ask? I’ll just say we drove up a hill so steep I felt like I was in a truck commercial.
Once the group found a spot they liked, we parked and started unloading gear. I squished my earplugs into my ears, as instructed.
Yup, this was gonna happen.
It was time to put my previous lessons to work. Bringing me a pistol and some .22 caliber bullets, and watching me like a hawk, Robin Hood had me follow all the steps: Making sure the gun was pointing in a safe direction. Checking to see if it was loaded. Making sure the safety was on. Loading it. And so forth.
Next, we walked over to the target, a paper bulls-eye on a cardboard box weighed down with rocks, and worked on my stance a bit. It reminded me of a baseball/softball batting stance, with knees bent a little, relaxed body, proper hand position, and both eyes way the heck open!
And then he said, “You’re ready.”
I squared my feet and made sure my hands were where they should be. I lifted the pistol and pulled the hammer back. I peered at the tiny white dots that comprised the sights of the gun, aimed at the bulls-eye, and squeezed the trigger.
Not “Bang!” Not “Ker-POW!” Just pop.
That first one, admittedly, did make me squeak a little. But I didn’t run away to duck and cover or anything (victory!). And I didn’t hit the target that time…but I hit it before the end of the first ten bullets!
I’m not about to join the NRA, or buy myself a gun anytime soon (although they do come in pink…hmmm). But I’ve learned that guns, when handled safely and responsibly, aren’t so scary. They can even be kind of fun.