Sunday, November 16, 2008

Let’s talk about guns baby…

Okay. I've gotten lots of comments and questions about my target pictures and my shooting. So let's just tell the story one more time, this time in full.

My experience with guns and aim- up until the middle of 2006:

· Once when I was eight years old my dad let me shoot at a cardboard box target with a bb gun.

· I've always really enjoyed softball. I liked playing it in Jr. High during P.E. and just throwing around a ball before then. Since there was shortage of kids who were willing to just play "catch" as long as I wanted to, I ended up drawing a chalk target on the side of my grandparent's house and throwing tennis balls at the spot over and over until my arm hurt.

· I grew up being allowed to use my grandpa's tools to construct stuff in the backyard with old supplies. I learned to use a hammer pretty efficiently and I guess that develops a general sense of aim.

· During high school I would sit on my bed and try to write and draw in notebooks while sitting on my bed. Every frustrated and rejected attempt would be wadded up and pitched into the garbage can on the other side of my room. Sometimes that amounted to a significant amount of paper balls.

· Just out of high school I visited a guy friend in Maryland where he, his brother and friends grew up shooting glass bottles and cans out of trees and whatnot with bb guns. They offered to let me try and after pointing at a glass bottle about 20 feet away and I shot it out of the tree before my friend's brother (older then me) did.

That's it.

Fast forward a few years to last year when my ex (his 45 Glock), myself (and a leased .9 Glock) went to a local shooting range and took turns shooting the guns. It was my first time at a shooting range. First time shooting a real gun. I wasn't brilliant at it, but I did hit the general area that I was aiming at although it was just kinda all over the place.

Fast forward to separation/divorce where I buy myself a .9 and a few days later take it to the range to practice shooting it.

Here, our story begins.

It was late afternoon on a weekend. I'd gotten a babysitter for my kids and with running around trying to deal with errands had somehow forgotten to eat that day. I really wanted to practice though, and since I'd brought everything with me, stopped at the range where I'd bought my gun. There were only a handful of guys in the store and even fewer actually shooting. If anything it was a relief.

I put on my 'ears and eyes', loaded up and started shooting at the first of the four targets I'd gotten. I was onto my second target when an older gentleman two rows over came over, silently stood behind me for a few moments to observe and then when I paused to reload, asked hesitantly but kindly if I would mind getting a few pointers.

The fellow looked to be in his 80's, somewhere around my grandpa's age. Thinning white hair, sun spotted wrinkled skin, he stood and walked with a slight stoop and wasn't much taller than my own 5'4 frame. He also looked like he might have the early stages of cataracts.

Having been raised by grandparents, I always treat the elderly with the utmost respect. I also frequently remind myself that I have yet to meet anyone who didn't have *something* they could teach me if I was patient enough to listen and learn.

I smiled and tried to decide what to say. During that moment, I took a look at the target he'd been shooting at. The entire center of his round orange target was blown away with a gaping hole I could fit my wrist through.

"Sir, I would be honored to hear *anything* you could possibly tell me." I said with all sincerity.

He smiled and after indicating I should put my unloaded gun down, waved me over to his side. He had three very old looking pistols there and began telling me about the 45 Kimber he was shooting with. He told me the small .9 Glock I was shooting with was a fairly difficult gun to shoot with because of the short barrel.

Long barrel = better aim.

Fifteen minutes of a lesson, he weaved in and out of his WW II experiences, the several hundred guns he had in his personal arsenal, the marksmanship honors and awards he'd collected over the years and demonstrating the proper stance, posture and the correct way to hold a gun, how to aim, how many round to try shoot at a time, and to focus on grouping- not necessarily aiming at the very center, not trying to anticipate the kickback etc.

He told me that women are naturally better shots because of superior hand-eye coordination, a thing which I'd thought was the reverse. Also, he told me, most men with their egos were not receptive or attentive to getting pointers.

He was kind enough to offer to let me shoot his 45 Kimber. I was surprised but grateful that he was willing to spend the time to help me. Some of my recently-single-mother story came out and he was great about being sympathetic but staying focused on the lesson.

I got the third of my four targets, and hung the orange one up. He told me to take my time and I mentally went through the list of things he told me to do. 25 feet, 10 rounds I couldn't believe it when after having just listened to him, watched him and then trying it resulted in such dramatic and immediate improvement. I was ecstatic and he found my enthusiasm amusing.

I thanked him for his generosity and told him I'd try shooting my own gun. Back at my own station, I hung the black target, loaded only 6 bullets as he'd said and then went through my mental checklist. After having shot the 45, I did notice for the first few rounds that I had to readjust myself for a different feel, a different kickback and whatnot. By my fourth round I was more or less able to keep the grouping tight. I was only slightly aware of it when the older gentleman packed up his stuff, and left.

At this point other guys/men came in to shoot. I ignored them, but couldn't help noticing their targets. At the same distance, shooting with similar (if a somewhat smaller) guns, my aim was actually better than theirs. They were noticing as well and I smiled to myself at some of the excuses I overheard them giving to each other for their misses. I also noticed they were making the same mistakes I'd been making and not doing what the fellow had just taught me.

I'd been there over an hour now, and was feeling somewhat fatigued from keeping my arms locked holding the guns and having not eaten, but was still shooting better than outdoorsy looking guys with military hair cuts.

After a period of silence and feeling all eyes on my back and hearing several comments involving the words "wow", I felt it was wrong to take credit for what they must have assumed was years of practice and training. Before packing up my gear and sweeping up my shells, I showed one group of men my befores and afters, indicating that the elderly fellow who's walked out with a cane was responsible for my new ability.

So there you have it. I had a good time, went through two boxes of bullets, received a free, private lesson from a champion military marksman and have decided at some point to buy myself a 45 Kimber. I'm excited about going back.

And next time, I won't shoot on an empty stomach.

[MySpace Posted Wednesday, June 6, 2007 ]

No comments: