Saturday, November 28, 2009

Just a Normal Day at the Gun Range

Today I did something I thought I would NEVER do.  I shot a gun.  No, not a water gun, a REAL GUN.  Shocking, I know.  A full story is in order here.

Since we are spending Thanksgiving in Arizona with Matt's family and will be with my family on Christmas, we rolled Christmas into our Arizona trip and opened presents with Matt's family last night.  Josh (my brother in law) got my father in law a day at the shooting range, as he has a love for guns.  Although I had heard stories, I guess I hadn't fully realized that Matt grew up around guns and spent time shooting them in a safe space with his dad and brother.  I on the other hand didn't know one person growing up who even owned a gun, and I sure as heck have never ever touched anything more powerful than a Supersoaker water gun.  To be honest, I'm just down right terrified of guns.  It's not that I have a moral objection to guns or anything like that, I think the fear is more based on the fact that guns are completely foreign to me.  Growing up only two people had guns: police and bad guys, and neither are people you want to mess with.

So when the guys decided to go to the shooting range on Friday, I thought I'd tag along to watch and play photographer for the day.  As we got closer to the range, I stupidly mentioned, "Well, maybe I'll shoot once or twice, just to say I did it."  The minute we pulled up to the shooting range, I regretted ever saying that.  People were getting out of their cars with handguns strapped to their belts and toting giant black shoulder bags that I swore were filled with machine guns.  I wanted to jump back in the car and hide.  Trying not to look like the world's most sheltered child ever, however, I put on a smile and walked in to the range, acting like everything was fine.  After we put our name in with the nice and friendly guy behind the counter, we waited for a lane to open up.  Cue the anxiety.  The longer we sat there, the louder the gun shots got, the more terrified I became.  Whhhyyyyy did I ever agree to this?!  I tried coyly saying, "I don't think I'm going to shoot, I'm just gonna watch."  All three guys quickly shot me down (no pun intended), swearing I'd like it once I tried it.  Dang.  I continued to sit there, jumping every time I saw someone bust out a gun at the counter, forgetting we were at a gun range, where people, you know, use guns.  I mean, just seeing a gun made me nervous, but the thought of touching a gun made me want to throw up.  And the thought of shooting a gun?  Entirely too much to handle.  But as they called our name and our lane opened up, I realized, it was now or never.  (Cue Braveheart music, as I walk terrified into the range.)

My father in law went first, then Josh, (giant gulp).  I was shaking (not the ideal situation for firing a deadly weapon), and it literally took me ten seconds to walk the three feet from where I was watching to where I'd be shooting from.  As Josh tried to show me how to load the bullets, all I could focus on were the gunshots around me.  They were loud and unpredictable which made for an incredibly anxiety provoking combination.  At first, I wouldn't even touch the gun, so Josh worked with me to help me hold it unloaded, practice aiming, getting comfortable, etc.  Josh is literally the last person I ever expected to know these things, but to my surprise, he knew his firearm facts.  (He later told me he thought I would chicken out at this point.)  Then, I started to panic, and I mean, really panic, realizing the magnitude of what I was about to do.  "!"  As my anxiety began to skyrocket, I suddenly stopped and thought, "Allison, get a grip.  If you freak out, you'll make a mistake, so get your crap together, be a big girl, and just do it."  I slowly (and still shaking) took the gun from Josh, took the safety off, and aimed.  For just enough of a second, I got in the zone, calmed down, and BANG!  I did it.  A real bullet, just came out of a real gun, that I shot at a real target.  Helllooooo small victory for me and challenging myself!  I fired nine more shots before putting the safety on and setting the gun down.  Before I even turned around to see everyone else's reaction, I thought, dang, I did it.  I really did it.  I pushed myself to do something I thought I could never ever do.  Way to go me!

I would experience another turn, allowing me to focus on aim and using the proper stance.  I got some pity pointers from some regulars at the range, who I'm pretty sure felt sorry for my shaky hand, ridiculous stance, and manicured nails, but regardless, they were super helpful.  Later, I counted the bullet holes on my target.  Thirteen out of twenty.  Not bad for a first timer.  (Granted, ten of those hits were from ten feet away, but who's really measuring?)  Now don't be fooled, while I left more comfortable then I came in, I was by no means Annie Get Your Gun when we left.  I was scared speechless for most of my time at the range.  The guns, the bullets, the noise, it was really scary and overwhelming for me.  While guns lost some of their mystique, I'm still pretty scared of them and the finality of one wrong move.  I am not going to turn into a gun toting gal anytime soon (unless Fendi makes a gun bag.  If so, I might reconsider).

Some people say that shooting a gun is an adrenaline rush, but for me, not so much.  The real adrenaline rush was was pushing myself to try something I thought I could never do.  This experience reminded me how important and empowering it is to try to new things and push the limits I and other people set for me.  So I can't help but ask at this point, what's the thing you think you can't do, the thing you're scared to try?  Whether it's shooting a gun, planting a garden, or asking your boss for that task you've been eyeing, don't be so hard on yourself.  You've probably got a lot more fight in you than you think.  I know I sure did.  Check out the photos and the video below to see for yourself.

Josh preparing to steady me on my first shot in case I jerked back (which I didn't!) :)

Who would have EVER thought this picture would exist?  Not me!

While this definitely won't become a regular husband/wife activity for Matt and I, I'm totally glad he was there for this!

And now for the video...who would have ever thought this prissy looking, pink loving, Nordstrom wearing, girl from the city would ever look like this?  (I must admit, every time I watch this video, and trust me, I've watched it a lot, I can't believe it's really me!)


Stephanie said...

Great story! I've only shot a couple of times, but I think it's 3/4 terrifying and 1/4 empowering. I'd love to see the video but it says it's private.

Allison said...

Ok, I think I fixed the video. Try it again and if it doesn't work let me know. Thanks for commenting :)

Tiffany said...

Too funny! My husband shoots too and I am always scared of hand guns. You go girl!

Patricia said...

Haha! That's awesome! We should take a field trip to the gun range sometime. I would totally try it out and Amber is apparently really good at it!

Dad said...

Conquering or at least facing your fear is the real story. Great job. I climbed to the top of St Paul's Cathedral on metal stairs. I had several false starts, but finally did the Nike thing, "Just do it". It wasn't so bad and the reward was a fantastic view of London. Thanks for your story.
PS I share the same uneasiness around guns.