Saturday, July 24, 2004
If any blue men with no faces or legs float up to me, I'm ready to knock 'em down.
My friend Scott took me to a shooting range for my first experience with guns. I've never been a fan of guns, but I think people should be allowed to own them for sporting purposes and self-defense, as long as they make sure their kids can't get to them, and they're prepared to be held responsible for whatever that gun is used for. Semi-automatic and fully automatics seem to have no redeeming use outside of the military: nobody should need one (or more) of those and I agree with Australia's ban on those types of weapons.
Getting off the soapbox now, it was pretty amazing to fire a Magnum .357. It's such a simple device - Scott showed me an automatic pistol in pieces and there were surprisingly few components. You drop six bullets into the chambers, snap it closed, rotate the chambers till it locks...and you're ready. I wondered if the other shooters had ever thought..."what if I just turned around and shot all these people ?" Or maybe that was just me...a weird thought to have, but then I've never held a gun before.
They all seemed to be having a good time - the serious rifle guy next to me was aiming at tiny targets at the furthest extension of the range, about 50 feet, and getting a nice cluster of bullet holes. A tall, balding guy with buck teeth and a tight black tshirt, jeans and big boots fit the stereotype of the gun-totin' redneck perfectly, and was smiling as he fired the loudest damned gun I've ever heard, and picked up the spent shells afterwards. It was a .50 calibre Desert Eagle, I found out later, and Scott said he was surprised the range allowed that size weapon to be fired. Picking up the shells was common practice - you can refill them and fire them again two or three times before they start to warp and become unsafe to fire.
So...I was *really* nervous as Scott showed me how to load and clear the gun. It was heard to hear him because of the earplugs we wore, and every few seconds someone would fire and make me more jumpy...you didn't know when one of the .50 cals would be fired, and you'd feel the air bump against your skin, and resonate in your chest. After a while you get used to it though. Scott loads the gun for me, tells me to keep it pointed downrange always, and I pick it up.
My hands are a bit shaky and I'm sweating a little because the range isn't airconditioned. It's fairly heavy, and cold. I cock it and aim at the blue man target, 15 feet away. I pull the trigger and BLAM ! It kicks back hard and a neat circle appears in the guts of Mr Blue. Wow...I fired a gun :) ! I do this about 87 more times at different ranges...I think all that video game time paid off. The gun cocks easily and each set of six shots goes by too quickly. I get into the rhythm of loading up, firing, and clearing the chamber, and I find my aim tends to be low and quite erratic. But, and this is the important part, I didn't get any power thrills from hefting and firing such a powerful gun. No red mists over the eyes, no visions of soldiering against evil enemies, no defending myself against hideous hordes. It was just an exercise in aiming and firing; a game.
Both of Scott's automatic pistols have problems, so we finish up and leave. I enjoyed the experience, but I'm probably not going to do it again - it's expensive, my hands hurt a little bit for a couple of days afterwards, and I'd rather play my games on the computer. Deanne and another lady at work each took one of my target sheets and stuck them on their office doors as a warning to others :)