Saturday, May 7, 2016

Bang! Bang!

Those of you who know me well enough, know that I hate the idea of a gun in the house. We don't go hunting (not that I'm opposed to well regulated hunting and eating the proceeds thereof), and the only other use I know of for a gun is trying to kill your fellow man.

I know that a home gun is much more likely to be turned against the owner or misused by a child in the home that it will be used to defend the homeowner. Toward avoiding that end, I'm the one who didn't allow any toy guns, not even a water pistol, in the house when the kids were growing up. I didn't want anybody thinking it was a game to point something at another kid and pull a trigger. The daycare kids and some of their parents were mad at me, but I told them they could bring any water squirter toy they wanted as long as it didn't look like a gun.

They never did.

There is now a gun in the house. It's a 38 revolver, a six shooter. There is also plenty of ammunition.

A couple weeks ago Steve told me that I was going to be mad at him. I asked him why, and he informed me that a gun had been purchased and would be arriving via package delivery. When I again asked him why, he replied that he didn't feel safe in the home any more. The local news is full of bleeds/leads stories, and a lot of folks are getting shot out there. Out there is a couple town away, but it's still too close for his peace of mind. Ergo the gun.

I had some concerns about legality, safety, storage within the house, all of which he answered. Once it arrived, he took it to the local shooting range, just a couple miles away, bought ammo, a target, and an hour of lane time to check it out. He returned all excited and insisted that he show me how to use it. I in turn insisted that he not tell me where in the house it was being stored, that a trigger lock be attached soon, particularly before visitors arrive, especially any with children.

He wanted to take me to the range with him to learn how to really use it. He was all full of expectations that I would be just as enthusiastic about the gun as he was and we could go to the range together to enjoy shooting.

I have shot before, down at the Rosa family farm in southern Minnesota, early on into the first marriage. It turned out that I out shot my husband, and he never brought up the activity again. I was just as happy because his gun had a very stiff slide action that I didn't have the hand strength for, even back then. He also had a knack for killing the enjoyment in anything we did, or that I did. The abcessed molar on the deer hunting trip later that fall didn't increase my interest in shooting to hunt, either, particularly as being on a weekend there was nothing to do but suffer for 3 days. I did see a deer, I think, but it was only almost sunrise and whatever it was disappeared into the woods before it was legal to shoot.

None of that left me eager to head out and shoot something.

I did, however, agree with Steve that it would be in my best interest to learn how to use the thing properly. I contacted my friend Terri. She's retired law enforcement, and agreed to take me to the range and show me the ropes. She also thought she'd bring along her 4 pistols and give me a go at trying different kinds in case I liked something different. I figured it was best to learn from her, without the weight of Steve's hopes and expectations riding on how the hour went. I could focus on what was happening rather than what should be happening.

I did learn several things. I know how to hold the various guns, both for not shooting, and shooting. I did manage not to slice my thumb on the slides, thank you very much. I am in awe of the power from a little bitty bullet. Of all the guns there, I like the revolver best, for lots of reasons. My hand strength is not an issue either in loading or shooting. Even Terri had some issues with loading her clips, particularly with a new gun she'd just gotten and was trying out. Turns out it was set up for a lefty and she needs to reassemble it so the gizmo that releases the clip is on the other side. (My being a lefty is no issue with the revolver.) Her real issue with hers was how tight the springs were, being new. She had to keep checking the clip to see if it was full yet, needing so much force to load.

I can shoot single handed with the left hand if necessary, but if I happen to grab the gun in an emergency with the right hand I need to add the other hand to shoot, not to mention properly aiming the thing as it kind of goes all over. It seems my right trigger finger is even weaker than the right hand is. I know how to stand, which arm to lock straight, how to wrap the other around it. After the first 4 shots I even learned how to properly sight rather than just pointing where I sort of thought it should go.

Hey, didn't matter, really. Three of those first four shots were kill shots anyway, two in center mass and one through the eye, and the 4th would have badly wounded the attacker. As it turns out, I'm a pretty good shot, at least with the 38. By the time we got to the 44 and 45, where Terri was showing me how to rapid fire, I managed to hit the target's ear a couple times. Or maybe she did.  The target was so full of holes we couldn't always tell which shot went where by then.

One other appreciation I gained for the revolver was that it didn't chuck brass all over the place. While I was waiting behind Terri while she was shooting, I was getting pinged by brass from all sides, not just hers. The staff kept passing by with big floor brooms sweeping it up so we wouldn't trip all over it. None of it actually carried enough force to cause injury, but I gained a healthy respect for the back side of a shooter.

So: enjoy? Not the word I'd use. I expect I should really go back once a year or so to refresh myself on how to use it, just to be safe as well as prepared. It won't become a hobby.

As we left, I had a final question for Terri, prefacing it with the fact that I didn't know if it was a really rude question or not, and that she needn't answer if she didn't want to. In all her years in law enforcement, how many times had she pulled her gun, not just to say "I'm here and I'm prepared for you" but with the intent to actually use it? After a short pause, she decided to answer. "Once." I didn't pursue by asking what happened as a result, and she didn't bother to fill me in. That was fine.

She did say there were an uncountable number of times she had been shot at, including once when a guy with a loaded shotgun showed up at her front door.

I recalled that before shooting each of her guns she'd brought, she'd emptied them of ammunition and reloaded with bullets like I was using, with full jackets. She keeps them loaded with hollow points at home.

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