Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Well Shoot!

The Boy and his roommate took me shooting yesterday south of town. I wish I could say that I was thrilled to be there. My experience wasn't negative, and I have no regrets. However, I don't know that it's really my thing. My experience with guns is limited to one other encounter. I didn't grow up in a hunting family (uncles did, but Dad never went). My parents didn't expose me to guns at all as a child. I knew they existed, and I guess I always had a healthy respect for weapons of any kind. Guns were simply alien to me until I decided to learn about them on my own.

So the boys took me shooting yesterday. They walked me through gun safety (my second time, but a good refresher course, especially when said in a new way by different people). They let me pick which handgun I wanted to fire, and after demonstrating what it can do, I got my turn. As a [professional!] photographer, I already knew how to breathe and how to not anticipate. There is something different about the gun's "bang!" over the camera's "shhk" that separates the men from the boys, though. I think I fired five or six rounds with the Glock 9mm sub-compact. We weren't standing twenty feet away, but my little group of holes were exactly where I aimed the gun. That was all the shooting I did. The boys played with their handguns and a shotgun (I now know the fastest way to make cardboard boxes into pulp).

While they took turns shooting, I pulled out my camera and took a few shots of my own. The near silence of my camera, the smooth metal in my hand, my finger curved over the shutter button... click click click. So much the same, and yet so very different.

I know people are going to try to pigeonhole me into being either pro-gun or anti-gun. Honestly, I'm neither. I see how firearms can be used for both good and bad. I believe in the right to own weapons with one exception: if you've been convicted of any violent crime, you lose that right. I don't own any lethal weapons. That said, I don't have a problem with people safely owning, storing, or using any weapons. It's just not something I can see me doing. My experience wasn't bad in any way. Still, even after yesterday, I don't understand the thrill some people seem to get when they shoot something. I realize there is skill involved, especially at long distances. For me, standing twenty or thirty feet away from a target and firing round after round felt hollow. There was no challenge. Maybe that's why I would rather fire smaller rifles at much larger distances: if I'm not using a weapon for self-defense, at least keep the sport in it. After our adventure, the boys wanted to know if I'd be interested in purchasing a handgun. No, I replied. I know enough now about how to use one if I need to, and that's all I wanted out of the day.

No comments: