on thursday, i got a text reading ‘what do you want to do today? bowling, laser tag, bingo or shoot guns?’ nervous, excited, intimidated as all hell, i chose shooting.
the last time i shot a gun was in 1996, maybe, and it was while i was sitting in the back of my dad’s pick-up, with the gun aimed at a gopher. “gopher hunting” was a family pastime, although hunting is a strong term for what we were really doing. there is this farmer lore that says cows trip in gopher holes, break their legs, and thus become lost income, so it’s in the farmer’s best interest to eradicate gophers. although i’ve never heard of this actually happening, and there’s no effort to fill in already-dug gopher holes, this logic somehow persists, which is why i spent more than a few afternoons attempting to shoot gophers (and rarely succeeding). once i realised that staying home and reading was a viable option, i begged out of the family excursions and buried myself in books instead.
but, i digress. we’re not in kansas anymore, and shooting at animals isn’t exactly my thing these days. fastforward nearly fifteen years and here i am, vegan city girl who has had many arguments about gun control, how available guns should be in society, stated many anti-short-gun opinions. this is the same person who chose to spend the afternoon at a firing range! incongruous, to say the least.
when sarah & i walked into the firing range, i was so nervous. trying to delay the inevitable. we picked out two 9mm handguns to start, the attendant handed us ear & eye protection and we headed into the range. the noise was daunting! in recent years i’ve only heard gunshots on tv (benign, exciting) and outside my apartment (scary!) and it was counterintuitive to walk toward the noise.
once inside the range, the attendant explained safety procedures to us–how to load, cock, unload, general common sense rules like never point a gun at anybody else, don’t be an idiot, etc. my hands were shaking so hard i could barely load the clip. when i squeezed the trigger the first times i am pretty sure i also shut my eyes. IT WAS SO INTENSE. between each shot, i slowed my breathing–the adrenalin was coursing through me. i quickly shot through the clip so i could safely rest the gun on the bench. my hands were still shaking.
turns out sarah had as much fun as i did shooting, and when we went through the ammo for our first guns, we went back and made a second choice–two .45 s! these guns shot much smoother, but had a stronger push, and the muzzle flashes were much more apparent. after a short session with the second gun, we decided to call it a day.
(sarah was a much better shot than i!)
as we left, the adrenalin was still coursing through me! it’s not like shooting a handgun is some transcendent experience; it’s just one i was never expecting to have in my entire life. i pushed myself so far out of my comfort zone to do it, and the satisfaction at getting up the nerve was a huge part of the rush afterward. it seems like a worthwhile counterpoint to add that after blasting away paper zombies we transitioned smoothly to a mountaintop picnic at sunset. if that isn’t a rad day, i don’t know what is.
this whole week has been full of difficult, rewarding experiences. these small wins are so necessary for me as i head into one of the most intimidating experiences of my life (traveling for 57 days in europe). small doubts nag me daily–what if i can’t find a job when i return? what if i have to stay in a bunch of shitty hostels and have bad experiences? what if i don’t have fun? what if i miss out on something? what if a train crashes and i die? what if i get lonely? what if i don’t have any good books to read?–and i have to muster up strength to disregard that shitty inner critic.
ok, dudes. do you want to tell me about times you conquered something you were afraid of? when you pushed yourself to do something and then it turned out to be awesome? i’d love to hear about it!