“I’m sorry have you met me?”
For the last month or so my friends, Hannah and Jason have been asking me to go to the shooting range with them. Like any other well-adjusted individual who grew up in a neighborhood with gang violence, I have a healthy fear of guns. I don’t care what the NRA says; people may kill people, but they use guns to do it. (I bet you we wouldn’t be nearly so keen to go to war if we had to fight with were well sharpened pomegranate. Let’s just be honest: guns are effective harbingers of death.) A sure-fire way (bad choice of words) to avoid being killed by a gun is to avoid places that have guns. You can’t get hit by the bullet if you’re not in its way. This is why I have avoided shooting ranges all of my life.
However, Hannah and Jason know me too well, so they know that if they ask me enough I’ll eventually cave.
“Come shooting with us.”
“Come shooting with us.”
“Come shooting with us.”
“Please come shooting with us?”
So yesterday after church I drove to Shoot Straight on Southern Blvd.
(Before I continue, can we talk about the fact that I went to a shooting range after church? Even though I wasn’t shooting people or animals, I still feel as though I broke some unwritten commandment. Like “Thou shalt not shoot on a Sunday” was an alternate commandment in case one of the original ten didn’t make the cut.)
I got there a few minutes before Hannah and Jason, so I had no one to speak to about the giant bear that greeted me at the door of Shoot Straight. Yes, there was a giant stuffed bear in the lobby of Shoot Straight. There was a giant stuffed bear with a sign that said, “DO NOT TOUCH” on it; however, if someone puts a giant stuffed bear in your path, what else are you gonna do?
I’m not saying I touched the bear, but I’m not saying that I didn’t touch the bear.
About 3.5 seconds after I encountered the bear, I got around to looking at the walls of the Shoot Straight building. Apparently, the company is very keen on animals. There were water buffalo, deer, really big deer, a hippopotamus, various goats, and a bobcat throughout the store. Well, at least their heads were throughout the store. The company is only keen on DEAD animals. At least the goat got to keep its front legs. You see why I am correct in saying that guns are harbingers of death? Do you think any unaided human could have taken down a hippo with a well-sharpened piece of fruit?
Hannah and Jason got there a few minutes later and then we started signing forms, paying fees, and getting ear plugs. And when I say “we” I mean “they.” I was taking pictures.
Of all the death.
It took about fifteen minutes for us to get a space at the range, and when we walked into the range, I wondered why on earth I was walking into a place with not one, not two, but fourteen guns that were firing at a steady pace. Even though Shoot Straight is a very safe range, there were shells flying everywhere and when you’re not used to guns a shell is the same as a bullet. For the first five minutes I had to resist the urge to duck and cover.
Jason showed me how to safely load and shoot a gun. He owns a normal (as if I know what a normal sized gun looks like) handgun which doesn’t have a ton of recoil and is a good gun to shoot if you have a healthy fear of guns. After he emptied the clip, Hannah refilled it and then it was my turn. I put the magazine into the gun, took off the safety, aimed, and fired.
And promptly shot my target in the crotch.
Did I mention that we were shooting at zombies?
Shoot Straight has kitschy targets you can buy for $2.00.
We bought a round of zombies for everyone.
I fired my second shot and got the zombie right between the eyes. Then I got him in the chest, throat, the thumb (I’m a crack shot, right?), stomach, and leg. By the fifth shot, a strange feeling started to overcome my senses. With the sixth shot, it rose from my stomach to my chest. I started to feel all tingly in my legs and arms. With the eighth shot the feeling was in my head and my ears were warm and turning a slightly pinkish color.
Dear Lord, I was having fun.
That was happiness welling up inside of me.
With each shot I felt less like Gyasi and more like Rambo.
We both have curly hair, so all I would need to pull off the Rambo look would be twenty pounds of muscle and a bandana.
Perhaps it was the smoke, maybe it was the lead, or it could have even been the shell casing that ricocheted off the wall and burned me, but happiness somehow got a hold of me and I had a ridiculously fun time shooting guns on a Sunday. I now know why people go to the shooting range on a Sunday. You feel some kind of way about yourself after you’ve been shooting bullets at a target for an hour and a half. And it never gets boring. Oh no, in fact things get more fun when I get a bigger gun.
But the big gun scared me so all I could bring myself to do was look at it.
Baby steps, people, baby steps.
Do not take this blog post as an endorsement for guns. (Take the fact that I saw Congressman Allen West at the range as an endorsement for guns.) You know that I only write about things to make you laugh, dear reader, not to encourage you to do them. If anything, I encourage you to try something new this summer. I didn’t realize how much fun shooting bullets into a zombie could be until I tried it.
Although to be honest the sound of a gun firing still makes me skittish.
Spending the afternoon at the gun range was thrilling, but only confirmed my decision to never, ever own a gun.
Because despite the immense amount of safety precautions at Shoot Straight, guns are still freakin’ terrifying.