A Day At The Range
Being married to a former law enforcement officer and native Texan, it is inevitable that we have firearms in our home. I was not raised around firearms at all. In fact, the only firearm in our home growing up was an old military rifle that belonged to my father, and we were NEVER to touch it, so I didn’t. That being said, I have never fired a gun of any type.
Charlie and I have had some pretty spirited conversations around gun control. Everyone has their opinion about guns, and I respect that, but we both agree that if someone is going to own a firearm of any type, they need to know the safest way to not only secure them but use them.
As we sat watching the Astros game on TV, Charlie said to me, “Tomorrow, we are going to go do something out of your comfort zone.” Now, that could be a myriad of things, and, knowing Charlie, it’s something I would never think of doing. I was right. He was talking about going to the gun range together and me firing a weapon.
At first, I balked. I believe my words were, “I’ll go, but I don’t know if I’ll actually fire a weapon.” Charlie is a patient and understanding man, and he would never push me to do something I’m not completely bought in on, so he understood that I would go but may not necessarily shoot and was fine with it.
The Hot Wells Shooting Range is an outdoor range that provides target practice and instructional shooting. There are ranges for handgun, rifle, skeet, and a special range for law enforcement that is named for a fallen Sheriff’s deputy.
After checking in and ensuring we both signed a legal waiver with the office, we were headed to the rifle range. I noticed that safety is the number one focus all around the range. Multiple signs are referring to gun safety posted in multiple locations. The staff continuously “patrol” the grounds, ready to answer questions and ensure everyone is following the posted rules, and have no hesitation in letting someone know when they are not in compliance.
As Charlie set up his rifle and gear in our assigned area, I couldn’t help but notice the diversity of the people at the range. I’m not sure what I expected to see, but I wasn’t expecting to see so many ladies practicing their skills on the handgun range. As I watched, it occurred to me that, unfortunately, we live in times when having a handgun is almost as normal as carrying a handbag, and more and more ladies are opting for the concealed carry license.
After watching Charlie firing away at the target, the range master announced that everyone needed to get behind the yellow safety line while they switched out targets on the range. This is a time when everyone must back away from their weapons and stay away until the range master announces it is safe to begin firing again. During this respite, Charlie notified me that I would be shooting next if I wanted to. I must admit, I didn’t exactly jump up and down and do the happy dance. In fact, I admitted to my husband that I was scared. I didn’t know what it felt like. I didn’t know how the recoil would feel against my shoulder…so many what if’s and no definitive answers for me.
After some consideration and discussion, I decided I would give it a try. After all, Charlie has extensive experience handling firearms and would never expect me to do anything I wasn’t comfortable with. So here I went, sitting with a firearm in my hands for the first time. To say I was apprehensive would be an understatement.
Charlie talked me through the workings of the rifle, how to look through the site at the target, how to hold it and make sure I was in a comfortable “shooting” position. The one thing he stressed to me was to relax, take a deep breath in, and pull the trigger on the breath out. Now, the one thing he didn’t say to me was, “Don’t close your eyes when you fire.”
There is a scene in the movie I-Robot where the female character is given a rifle by the cop and told to aim and pull the trigger if she needs to. The female character does this, killing the bad robots. Once the robots are dead, a younger character tells the cop that she had her eyes closed when she fired, and she says, “They’re dead, aren’t they?”. Well, that’s sort of what I did. Every time I pulled the trigger, I closed my eyes…I couldn’t help it; it was reactionary. Of course, I didn’t immediately share this tidbit of information with Charlie.
As I got more comfortable handling the rifle, I would stop and ask Charlie how I was doing because I couldn’t see if I was hitting the target or not. He kept assuring me that I was hitting the target and doing pretty well for my first time on the range. He asked me how it felt, firing the rifle. I told him that it wasn’t that bad other than my forearm being sore from holding it. I actually was enjoying it.
It was then that I figured it would be a good time to let him know that I was closing my eyes when I fired. I believe my exact words were, “If I could keep my eyes open when I fire, it would be better.” His reaction was priceless. He smiled, looked at me, and said, “That’s kind of important. You need to keep your eyes open”. That’s something to work on when and if I decide to return to the range.
I must admit, I enjoyed the time at the range more than I thought I would. I also enjoyed learning about the different types of firearms and the sounds they make, and the calibers of ammunition. The staff at the range were accommodating and more than willing to answer my questions. Will I return to the range with my husband? Who knows? I can say, with certainty, that I know more about gun safety now than I did before we went.