Last week, I went shooting for the first time.
Despite having lived in the South for a good four years now, I have only so much as held a pistol twice, and never pulled the trigger until some friends decided to go to the new shooting range in Roswell.
Growing up as a teenage boy playing way too many violent video games, it may be odd that I never had much to do with actual weapons.
My family and friends were never big on them. Some members of my family are dead-set against them. Their thinking is one I had until fairly recently – guns are made to kill. Why would you have one if you didn't expect to kill someone? And doesn't having a gun for defense mean you don't trust the police – people paid to defend the citizenry – to do their job?
My views have changed considerably since I was an idealistic youth. Weapons are fine for self defense, and are probably a necessity in some areas.
Entering the gun range, I admit I was nervous about just holding a weapon, let alone using it. Disaster scenarios went through my head as soon as I committed to shooting. What if someone gets shot or, worse, killed? Holding a loaded weapon is a heavy responsibility, and one I was not sure I wanted to take up.
But I entered the range and was taken through getting set up to shoot a weapon. I watched a safety video full of common sense, but still important, information – always face the gun forward, down the range; don't play around; wear head, eye and ear protection; keep your finger off the trigger until you actually ready to shoot.
Having never fired a weapon before, the guy behind the counter suggested I use a revolver. Easy to load, easy to fire and little chance of something going wrong. My shooting partner chose probably the largest one on display.
It was called “The Judge.” It can apparently shoot shotgun shells. I thought this was a little overkill for the shooting range, but softened my stance when I chose our target – zombie Osama bin Laden.
Firing a gun called The Judge suddenly felt appropriate. To paraphrase John Wayne, the only due process is by the bullet.
My hands were actually shaking as I loaded the gun with its six bullets and took aim. I really had no idea what to expect – what would the kickback on the gun be? How loud would it be? There was really only one way to find out, so I squeezed the trigger.
It was definitely louder than I expected, and my aim was nowhere near what I wanted. The scattering of dust on the ceiling proved that.
But it was manageable and – dare I say it – exciting. I finished off my remaining rounds quickly and stepped back so my friend could take his shots. Like me, he had never fired a weapon before and was equally clueless in what to expect.
We quickly figured out how to properly use the thing and then fired away, our comically large pistol tearing gaping holes in the paper zombie bin Laden.
After all our bullets were spent, we compared notes with our other friends who came with us. There was no excitement or jubilation at taking advantage of our Second Amendment right. A few of us were less than impressed and had no inclination to do it again.
The rest of us enjoyed it, but it was similar to playing golf – fun, but it's not going to blow your mind.
Will I now go out and buy my own gun? Probably not. But now that I know what to expect, I think I'll go back to get a feel for what guns I feel comfortable with. I might even try the Judge again.