I have never in my life shot a proper gun before. Air rifles, yes. But never anything of the sort that could do anything more than kill a pigeon.
It was therefore with some trepidation that I joined the guys for a team off-site, shooting an assortment of guns at one of the local ranges. Interestingly, my trepidation was matched by the guys originally from New York, Boston and Chicago; basically anywhere without straight lines on their border maps. America really is two places, and our team is split neatly down the middle by who packs heat, and who chooses not to.
While I suggested this event, I actually expected someone to come up with a better plan. Turning up, I and my boss both looked more than slightly concerned by the other guys unloading cases of weaponry from their cars / trucks. Several levels of insight were unpeeled by our team members, as guys I would never has pinned as NRA members pulled out huge rifles and packs of pistols. Truly amazing, and a look into a different culture.
Stepping into the gun shop itself, we definitely left Austin city limits. The guys behind the desk eyed us as we made our way to the rental counter, and grudgingly agreed to my suggestion of being allowed to take photos of the team. Nothing unfriendly; but I guess when both parties could take out a small town with their weaponry, you are likely to look at people twice.
After being being pointed towards one of the pistols and walked through the finer points of loading, I was invited to disarm the safety, aim, and fire. Somewhat like the first moment you hit your first surf wave, it’s all so familiar, but at the same time terrifyingly alien. Squeeze the trigger, grip as hard as you dare, try to predict how hard it is going to kick … and … BANG. Just like that, I shot my first bullet.
Guns work in ways that you can’t immediately appreciate in a movie. Semi-automatic pistols have collections of moving parts that can easily (and did) cut your finger as they explode backwards. Revolvers require an amazing amount of travel before they finally fire. The amazing elk rifle that one of the guys brought could easily bruise your shoulder if held incorrectly. The plethora off different bullets, accessories, optics, holsters and storage boxes was to peer into an abyss of expense. And the vintage rifles that some of the people were firing were really rather magnificent to behold.
After all that, two groups of people met to shoot some bits of paper; those without guns, and those with. While I still don’t agree with the gun laws in place in America, and I don’t understand why someone would want to own a device that is specifically bought to maim or kill another human, I came away humbled, pleased that I had the opportunity to learn something about my other team members, and hell, had one heck of an enjoyable time blasting away.
Insert movie quote here.
The first of several victims. I was actually quite impressed with myself; by the end I was able to group my shots together surprisingly well.
One of the guys’ travel guns. Yes.
Taking stock after the event.