A friend wanted to learn how to handle firearms and she didn’t want to take lessons on her own. She asked if I’d join her knowing full well I’ll try anything new a few times just for the experience.
We started by familiarizing ourselves with various weapons and their component parts with an instructor. First, a Ruger MK II .22mm which is a very simple pistol that allowed us to understand how a gun actually works. We then switched up to a Smith and Wesson M&P 9mm with a bit more heft.
My friend is petit and was having some trouble with recoil in the beginning. One of the guys next to us helped her with her form and talked her through the process a couple of times. That helped a lot.
Aside from the actual target practice – which is an enormous amount of fun – I was fascinated by the culture of the shooting range. Every kind of activity has its own self selecting population. Perhaps it’s just the location here in San Francisco, but the people we encountered were all over the map from giant Samoan guys to slender blond ladies. Left. Right. None of the above. I’m not sure what I expected, but it was a generally pleasant group.
Here are my very first two target practice results. No one is ever going to accuse me of being a great shot. But after two hundred rounds my friend and I had taken the first baby steps to understanding how to properly handle the equipment. As our instructor said, if I were aiming at a deer or an intruder my half assed shots would have done the job, although I might need to try a riffle next time if I’m going for venison.
We compared the experience to learning how to drive. It’s something you have to do many times before you get good at it and some people are naturally better than others (as anyone who’s ever been in the passenger seat with me knows…) Even if we never own firearms ourselves we feel more responsible now that we at least understanding the basics. We’ll be going back together for more practice.
My friend has worked with people recovering from gun shot wounds in her medical training rotation and has a genuine appreciation for what these weapons can do to a person. It’s not pretty. It changes your life forever. She also understands that the world is a dangerous place. I’m not exactly sure what her motivation is for taking these classes, but I’m happy to tag along and begin to cultivate one more skill set. You never know.