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Rated: ASR · Article · Experience · #1770152
An article describing my first experience firing a gun.
                   center}"Guns are not toys," that is what my mother always said. This is the thought that keeps invading my mind as I sit on my couch contemplating the coming events. I find, for the first time in recent memory, that it is difficult to organize my thoughts. I have never held a gun. Let alone shot one. I am a little startled that I feel so uncomfortable. I've been waiting in silent torment listening to the sounds coming from my bedroom. The banging and clicking seem almost orchestrated. I have heard these sounds before, but never paid much attention to them.

Today, the anticipation of what is to come is almost unbearable. I can't help imagining what he is doing in there. When my husband finally emerges from the shadow encased doorway, I almost laugh despite my emotional state. He is covered from head to toe in camouflage like a soldier ready for war. I have often seen him in what I call 'Tree form,' but I did not expect such a complete effort today.

My husband us a self-proclaimed hunter even though I have yet to see any quarry. Dale and I have always tried to involve ourselves in each other's hobbies, but until today I have successfully managed to avoid this particular affection. Consequently, he is going to extract every ounce of participation from me whether I like it or not. The thought is exhilarating, yet apprehensive at the same time. It is not an altogether unpleasant concoction of emotions.

As he lovingly sets his dull black gun case on the table in front of me, he immediately takes a more serious tone. Intending to comfort me, he only reaffirms to me how dangerous this could actually be.

He opens the case and carefully lifts a small gray gun level with his chest. I can see the care and thought put into every motion he makes almost like a mother bear tenderly carrying her young in her massive bone crushing jaws. He calls this one a Three Eighty. There are three guns resting safely on a piece of foam batting stuffed gingerly the bottom of the case.

He begins to describe the various features and styles associated with each particular gun. I can see the pride shining in his dark brown eyes making them appear an infinite black. Enjoying my undivided attention, he continues with the two most important rules of gun safety.

"Number one is muzzle control," he states with authority.

"Number two, common sense."

Satisfying him with my patience during an in-depth lecture on common sense, he decides we are ready to go. He begins to hand me a variety of items: targets, portable tables and chairs, cordless headphones and my notebook, I guess the guns are heavier than they appear to be considering they are the only items he can manage to carry up out enormously steep, barely trodden path to the top of the hill.

"The third most important rule of gun safety, never carry more than you can safely handle," he states. He is clearly enjoying the student-teacher status.

Halfway up the hill, I decide to readjust my load more evenly in the hopes of making it all the way up to the top. I find myself torn. I want desperately to get to the top, sit down and catch my breath. On the other hand, I am beginning to dread the job ahead. Finally, I can spy the top of the rusty building sitting in the abandoned tractor graveyard that borders the north side of our six acre square.

It is along this fence line in a small marshy clearing that Dale begins to set up the targets. I spend the time resting. He points us west towards the cliff face that borders the west side of the square. The wind is starting to switch directions from south to north, causing the tree branches to swirl in a strange dance.

Dale lays the case gingerly down on the not so steady table, which would almost work better as a kite. Sensing possible danger, he regretfully places the case on the debris littered ground. He selects the Three-Eighty and again explains the various styles and features of the gun. This time he hands me a handful of small but disproportionately heavy bullets. As they roll around in the palm of my hands like marbles, they seem to reflect all the possible colors of the sun. They seem almost natural resting in my hand, unlike the plastic piece of modern ingenuity they belong to.

Next, he hands me what he explains is not cordless headphones but ear protection.

"Safety rule, number one." He emphasizes as he tries to hand me the gun handle up, muzzle down. He clearly wants me to load it.

"It would make me feel more comfortable if you do it first." I mumble, feeling weak the instant the words escaped my mouth.

When he finishes, he hands me the gun in the same manner as before, only this time I take it. Instantly, I feel a flood of adrenaline overtake every muscle in my body. When I put the ear protection on I can hear nothing but my heartbeat echoing in my ears. I can feel the vibration reverberating in the ear muffs. The only other sound I can make out is that of my breathing. Uneven and shallow, the breathing gives it just the right effect to make me feel as though I am stepping into a horror movie.

I check the safety, check my hand position, then check the safety again. I have the ability to aim. I raise my hands and notice my arms are unusually straight and stiff. I can't seem to make myself bring this infamous killing machine any closer to my face than it already is. I am as carefully as I imagine I should.

Questions begin to invade my mind, threatening to destroy all the confidence I have mustered. What will it feel like? Will it hurt? Should I aim higher? Almost a nanosecond before I decide to pull the trigger, my hand grows tired of waiting and before I have time to think, it is over.

Immediately, I become overwhelmed by the massive odor spit into the air by this gun that is no bigger than my hand. I can't conceive how, with the wind almost howling, the pungent odor of gunpowder still lingers. Braver now, I inch the handle closer to my body. I have missed the first target completely.

This time I aim higher and more to the right. I manage to control myself and pull the trigger slowly. I can tell from where I am standing that I didn't hit the target. Sensing my discouragement, Dale decides I should try a different gun. Reluctantly, I agree and he proceeds to load a slightly bigger more attractive handgun.

The handle has a crisscross pattern etched into the metal for extra grip and a sleek black pinstripe that runs down the length of the barrel. From the moment I take it into my hand, it feels like it was made especially for me.

Although it is slightly bigger than the first, it balances its weight more evenly throughout my wrist, palm and fingers. This time when I aim, I feel less anxious. My chest no longer feels as though an elephant has chosen to rest upon it. As I aim, I move the handle still closer to my body. I pull the trigger and manage to hit just below the bulls-eye. I can easily see a circle of light peering back at me from the target.

I find myself wanting to shoot it again. If I aim a little higher and to the right just a tad, I could hit a bulls-eye. As I aim, I suddenly feel comfortable, almost relaxed. This time I shoot several times emptying the clip. We continue to take turns shooting until the sunset signals to us that it is time to pack up.{/center}
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