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Girl Got Gun

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by Drizzt, Aug 9, 2006.

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  1. Drizzt

    Drizzt Member

    Dec 24, 2002
    Moscow on the Colorado, TX
    Girl Got Gun
    A day at the shooting range packs power, fear and plenty of sweat.
    By Lauren Glendenning
    August 4, 2006

    This is the first in a series about responsible gun ownership and safety.

    As the sound of gunfire grew louder upon entering the shooting range, the fear of the guns themselves evolved more into an interest into their power and stigma. The range prides itself on its pledge to safety, and after taking the written safety test that every shooter must pass before crossing through its doors, the idea of shooting a gun became less frightening and more intriguing.
    Guns are scary because they can kill, but they aren’t so scary when responsibly practiced as a hobby; the shooting that is, not the killing. But people own guns for other reasons; be it a stress-release mechanism, a hobby or a mode of self-defense guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.
    In my efforts to become more comfortable around guns, I decided to look into a local gun range for some knowledgeable instruction. I figured The National Rifle Association might be a good place to start, since they seem to know a thing or two about guns. After reading up on the organization, I learned there is an indoor shooting range in the basement of the NRA headquarters in Fairfax. Staff members are available for one-on-one instruction at the NRA’s range, and classes are offered each month as well.

    People were lined up outside NRA headquarters on Friday, July 28, just before 10 a.m., with their locked gun cases by their sides waiting to be the first ones at the range. The shooters were all men that morning except for one, but Greg Wodack, manager of the NRA shooting range, said women make up about 20 percent of the range’s shooters overall. About the same amount of shooters are also off-duty police officers, he said.

    FORGET ABOUT the politics of shooting a gun or owning one, I wanted to see what it was like. I had shot guns recreationally in Colorado during college. The guys I shot with were experts, one was a former sniper for the U.S. Army Rangers, and the other a gunsmith, but they never took the time to show me what to do beyond pointing and aiming. They were more interested in getting their shooting time in than they were with teaching me years worth of gun knowledge they had acquired.

    I wanted to see what shooting a gun would be like in a serious place, where gun-play is not tolerated, and everyone around is completely focused on the task at hand. There was no laughing in this range. Shooting a gun is not a laughing matter.

    “Safety is our number one priority,” said John Robbins, spokesperson for the NRA. “Safety is at the root of all the courses [offered at the NRA].”

    Wodack gave me a brief overview of the gun I would be shooting. He knew I had shot before, and while not an expert by any means, he was comfortable with my ability to handle the gun and safely operate it. It was a 9mm Glock, the same kind of pistol used by the majority of law enforcement officers nationwide. It was the perfect size for my hands, which began to sweat as Wodack showed me the right way to hold the piece. My nerves were settling in, and I hadn’t even stepped into the range yet. Guns are heavy, at least heavier than they look like they’d be. Knowing how much power the small weapons pack is reason enough to start sweating.

    After my walk through the mechanics of the 9mm Glock, and after wiping my sweaty hands off on my jeans, I was ready to put on the oversized ear and eye protection gear and head into the range.

    The sounds of gunshots are subtle in the entryway to the range. Two heavy doors lead inside, and one cannot open the second door until the first one has shut behind them. Once inside the shooting area, even when wearing the mandatory ear and eye protective gear, the sound is louder than a jet airplane taking off from a runway. It’s not like in the movies either. As I stood in the room where guns were repeatedly fired, I could feel the vibration of the powerful weapons from head to toe.

    Rule number one in the firing area is to keep the gun pointed in a safe direction at all times, which is always downrange. Guns must be kept unloaded until ready to fire. Fingers must remain off the trigger until the target is in sight, and the rules go on and on. The range is considered a “hot” range, meaning everyone is free to fire his or her gun at any time. This results in sporadic gunfire, all aimed, but with no rhythm or way to anticipate when the shots coming from 15 different range lanes will occur.

    WODACK STAPLED my target to a piece of cardboard and sent it down about 25 feet. I chose a silhouette target, to better judge how I’d do if I were face to face with an intruder and had to react. I quickly learned that this scenario is exactly why some people come to shooting ranges for practice.

    Kearn Schemm brought his two teenage daughters, Freya and Saskja, to the range as part of their ongoing shooting lessons. Someone broke into their Alexandria home last year, and Kearn Schemm had no choice but to shoot the intruder in Saskja’s room. Ever since the incident, he has been taking his girls to the range to make sure they know how to handle a similar situation if it happens again.

    With the target in place and the magazine loaded, I was ready to fire my first shots in more than six months, sweaty palms and all. Once I had my grip right, I took some more time to line up the front and rear sights with my target. After what felt like 10 minutes positioning my feet, shoulders, target and gun sights, I fired the first shot. The recoil, it seems, is always bigger than expected. From that moment forward, I couldn’t shake my anticipation for the recoil before each and every shot. I was so concerned with the kick I was about to feel, that I failed to pull the trigger with smoothness. Instead, I looked to the target to see where my shots ended up, instead of focusing on my shooting technique.

    The technique, said Wodack, is what naturally produces a good target-shooter. I had a few good shots, more mediocre shots and even more not-so-good shots. Now my goggles were fogging up and sweat was leaking through them from my forehead. I wanted to do it perfectly. I didn’t want to disappoint my instructor, even though he was as patient and calm as could be.

    AFTER SHOOTING ABOUT 100 rounds, my first day on the NRA range came to an end. My biceps were twitching, and the adrenaline pumping through my veins was what I imagine 10 shots of espresso feel on an empty stomach.
    I exited the range with Wodack and Robbins, who had watched me shoot from a few steps back. I washed my hands in the sink just outside the range’s doors as I exited, another rule every shooter must follow.

    Robbins gave me one more shooting tip, in addition to the many Wodack gave me in the range. Robbins noticed that I fired the gun until the magazine was empty, with little time for breaks in between each shot. I would reposition myself a little, but for the most part I just took a breath and kept on firing. Robbins let me know it’s perfectly acceptable to pull the gun back in toward my chest to rest my arms in between shots. I'll heed his advice in future, as my arms were the most tired when the shooting was over.

    As I exited the range, and signed up for an upcoming shooting and gun safety course, I felt a little more at ease about handling a gun. It’s the type of thing I imagine will never become a way of life for me, the comfort of it that is. It’s like driving an automobile with a manual transmission. The day might come when you need to drive a stick-shift car, and if you don’t know how to do it, it isn’t something you can teach yourself right away. It takes practice, finesse and most of all, confidence, something I felt I have gained after just a couple of hours at the gun range.

  2. griz

    griz Member

    Dec 25, 2002
    Eastern Virginia
    Newbees always seem to be surprised that guns are heavy, loud, and do not hit exactly where you want them to. But at least she realized that shooting:

    More people, even some occasional shooters, need to understand that.
  3. antsi

    antsi Member

    Dec 25, 2002
    My biceps were twitching, and the adrenaline pumping through my veins was what I imagine 10 shots of espresso feel on an empty stomach.

    Somebody needs to relax a little.
  4. AirForceShooter

    AirForceShooter Member

    Oct 31, 2004
    Central Florida
    overall a good article.
    The authors experience was positive.

  5. AnthonyRSS

    AnthonyRSS Member

    Apr 10, 2005
    N. Alabama
    One of the best articles I've read lately on the subject. She didn't even mention shooting her foot off.

  6. mbs357

    mbs357 Member

    Dec 14, 2004
    Vienna, VA
    yes...most people I talk to seem to think that guns are bam instant kill while a bat or something, that the think is better for a bad guy to have, requires a swing and then a hit...
    Pertarded I say.
  7. Sistema1927

    Sistema1927 Member

    May 21, 2004
    "Land of (dis)Enchantment"
    Good article, since it gives insight as to what new shooters are thinking/feeling.
  8. K-Romulus

    K-Romulus Member

    Dec 31, 2003
    Somewhere in Monkey County, MD
    Holy cow! Of Course, the Washington Post couldn't be bothered to report this story . . .:rolleyes:
  9. NineseveN

    NineseveN member

    May 25, 2004
    Great story!
  10. Landor

    Landor Member

    Jul 30, 2006
    This was a great article. This person hit it right on the head. "People are afraid of guns because they can kill". So can knives and cars but people are not afraid to drive or cut a steak. (we all heard that comparison before) We are trained not to hit people with our cars and not to throw knives at them. She was all pumped up and sweating because she was afraid. After she shot her hundred rounds and realized that she was able to control the situation and have fun doing it, she was hooked. She realized that the only way his gun was going to hurt someone was if SHE pointed it at someone and SHE pulled the trigger. Her next trip to the range she will not be as pumped up or as sweaty and the trip after that even less. She will be more confident with herself. After it was over she signed up for a class. That's what we need to teach all these anti gun people. I would be willing to guess that at least 75% of all anti gun people have never even touched a gun and the ones that have were not trained right or at all or just had a bad experience.

    As I am writing this I had a deep thought.
    Are people afraid of guns or themselves? Are they afraid what they might do with a gun? Makes me wonder.
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2006
  11. SeanSw

    SeanSw Member

    Mar 31, 2005
    Central IL
    That was a nice article. I too am always surprised to hear people say that guns don't take any skill to use, or that it's just a "point and click" interface like using a computer mouse.

    I wanted to introduce my youngest brother to the operation of firearms who had only seen them in movies and games, and certainly never fired a real gun in his life. He hadn't quite shown himself to be responsible enough to take to the range but I thought it was important to dispell some of the more common misonceptions by going over the routine of operating my 9mm Baby Eagle. My brother is taller and outweighs me by nearly 70 pounds. He could barely rack the slide with all his strength in his hands!
  12. JesseJames

    JesseJames Member

    Dec 19, 2005
    CT, it's expensive here
  13. MachIVshooter

    MachIVshooter Member

    Aug 11, 2005
    Elbert County, CO
    They don't. They take skill to use effectively. It truly does not require any practice to discharge a firearm, but being able to control that firearm and hit the target, whether it be the X-ring, Bowling pin or intruder in your livingroom, is a whole different story. This is where the confusion lies, and explaining that difference to folks who are not educated about guns can be a trying task. It doesn't take any skill to weild a knife, either, but to use it effectively takes practice, especially if it is to be used as a defensive weapon.

    I have always had the best luck getting people to understand this by relating it to something they're familiar with. Cars are always a great example.
  14. zoom6zoom

    zoom6zoom Member

    Apr 24, 2006
    Now that line sounds like it was written by Glock's PR department!
  15. Wes Janson

    Wes Janson Member

    May 12, 2006
    I always kind of flinch when I see a "Woman Shooter Entering Sport!" article. Not because I don't think they should learn (I'm always trying to bring people out to the range), but because several times I've seen articles of that type submitted without apparantly ever being read by an editor.

    About two months ago the new Florida Gun News mini-magazine had an article written by a woman who went through a concealed carry course and bought a handgun. In Florida, concealed carry course generally means complete and total joke. This bias of mine was backed up by the author's comments at the end of the article in which she mentioned making jokes to her husband along the lines of "Now that I've got a gun, I'll shoot you if you don't do the dishes". I'm not being a stick-in-the-mud about the Four Rules: it was just my very clear impression that the author had gained very little respect for firearms and safety, and still considered them to be novelties, not deadly weapons. The issue after that one, the magazine did a review on a small Smith & Wesson .357 that they had refinished in a, quote "bloodsplatter camo" pattern of white and red. I'm sorry, but there's just limits, even to me. Like when someone once showed me a used police trade-in handgun they had recently acquired, and bragged that it had two "kills" to its credit already, and had been "blooded". It's people like that who I worry about.
  16. tegemu

    tegemu Member

    Nov 2, 2005
    Orange Park, Fla.
    Lauren, welcome to the sport. Your article is very well written and good reading. I am very happy that overall you had a good experience and wish you many more. Reading between the lines I have a sneaking suspicion that with practice you will come to like the sport much more. If you get an opportunity to shoot outdoors you will find a completely different experience. The noise is GREATLY reduced (not echoing off of the walls and ceiling.) The felt percussion that you could feel throughout your body will be negligible. The end result is that the atmosphere and environment will be much more pleasant. You go gal!!!
  17. RandomAvenger

    RandomAvenger Member

    Aug 1, 2006
    Republik of Washington
    Does this make her an "assault reporter"?
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