First Person Shooter

Since a comment about going to a shooting range on Saturday elicited much feedback, I figured I’d elaborate.

Normally, our visits to Deb’s brother John and his family usually include helping John get something accomplished. I never mind since he’s done far more for us and it gives me a chance to learn how things work and to use tools I never have occasion to otherwise. Last time, for example, I helped him build and install new front steps at his home.

He called last week and wanted to suggest we actually do something different, go to the local shooting club while the women attended a baby shower for our niece Julie. Now, the last time I shot anything was a BB gun back at summer camp some four decades ago. The last time I held a real gun was at the Charlie Santiago murder trial when I was on jury duty in 2003.

I was intrigued since writers should have hands-on experience with different tools, weapons, and the like if we want to better understand them (of course, that’s said within reasonable limits – I certainly wouldn’t expect to murder someone just for the experience).

It was gray and drizzling as we arrived at the range and he carefully explained the rules and regulations. I signed a waiver absolving the club of all responsibility should I somehow wound myself.  We began with a .22 rifle at 50 yards, with John showing me how to load the magazine, aim, and fire. A new target was set up and we took turns.

I fired probably three magazines’ worth and was clustering my shots on the bottom right quadrant. John was impressed at the consistency while I was adjusting my stance and grip throughout. I focused on the recoil, the sound of the shot, and the arc of the spent shell casing. My right shoulder certainly took the brunt of the firing and I concluded my small hands would never allow me the same kind of grip John effortlessly demonstrated.

We moved on to pistols at 25 yards, beginning with a .22, which had a lighter feel and kick. I managed the traditional pose but also grew comfortable with other positions as I focused on aim and the squeeze of the trigger. John was being incredibly patient (and no doubt somewhat amused).

Next up was the heavy duty .45 pistol, the kind used by soldiers and pulp magazine crime fighters dating back to the 1930s. The recoil was much more pronounced and I never had a comfortable grip. In time, I began moving the pistol in anticipation of the recoil which spoiled the aim. Amusingly, one of the shells arcing from the gun smacked me in the forehead.

From there, we tried the .357, a revolver with .38 police special bullets, another tried and true weapon. The kick was lessened a tad from the .45 but at neither time did I ever manage a long, steady position, with requisite lack of target success.

Overall, I hit the targets quite a bit, which thrilled me. I also hit the wooden frame, which John helped install just a week earlier. It was a great learning experience and frankly, more fun than I expected. I doubt this will become my new hobby but I won’t say no if invited to try again.

One comment

  • Paul Balze

    Sounds like a good time, Bob. It’s something I’ve thought about doing for a long time, but have never been able to arrange. My reasons were pretty much the same as yours–if I want to write adventure fiction, I’d like to know what it feels like to fire various guns.
    How well did the ear protection work? We had blanks fired onstage during “P for Producer” and even with foam earplugs my ears rang for a while afterwards.

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