Friday, March 13, 2009

"Gun Check"

I’ve only fired a gun once.

Let me be more accurate about that. I fired two guns one time. Wait. I don’t mean I fired one bullet out of one gun and one bullet out of a second gun. It was this. On one occasion, I fired two guns multiple times. That best reflects what actually happened. But it’s hardly a great opening sentence.

On one occasion, I fired two guns multiple times.

It’s kind of lumpy.

Art and the truth. Always a battle.


And moving on.

At the time of the gun-firing experiment, I was training in a gym with a guy named Matt. I don’t know about other people, but when I’m training in a gym, I like to distract myself from the fact that I’m training in a gym. Otherwise, I start thinking, “What am I doing, training in a gym?”

My personal “distraction of choice” is talking. Matt and I were pretty good at it, so good, in fact, that I often forgot I was training in a gym. Until I had to lift something.

The conversation somehow turned to guns. I told Matt I had never fired one. (Cap guns excluded. Being a longtime cowboy in my heart, I’ve fired a truckload of those. Which leads me to a secondary point, “secondary” only for this post; in reality, it’s equally important. You can fire a million cap guns and still have no powerful inclination to fire an actual gun, especially at someone. This is a point the “anti-toy-gun” advocates steadfastly ignore: The vast majority of us know the difference between “playing cowboys” and dead.)

Okay, where was I? Oh yeah. I told Matt I had never fired a gun. Matt asked me if I wanted to try it sometime. I told him yeah. Why? Because I wanted to know how it felt.

A few days later, Matt drove us to an indoor place where people shoot guns, like a gun club, or something. Matt brought along a couple of pistols of his own, which he was willing to let me try, but he suggested that, being a beginner, I should rent a smaller caliber gun, a .22, as well. So I did.

Then we went in the back.

The back was like a bowling alley with bullets. Shooters stood in parallel lanes, wearing earphones to muffle the noise, and fired at black-circled paper targets, maybe thirty feet away. There was this mechanism, where you could later slide the target towards you, so you could check out how you did.

I sorta already knew this, but it came clearer when I was in there. Different guns shoot differently. With the .22 I had rented, you have to draw the hammer back each time before you pull the trigger. That’s how .22’s work. A consequence of this arrangement is that you have a measure of control over your shooting. The “hammer pulling” requirement allows you some “thinking time” to consider what you’re doing.

You draw back the hammer.

“Do I want to shoot this guy? Yes.”


You draw back the hammer.

“Do I want to shoot him again? Yes.”


You draw back the hammer.

“Do I want to…wait, I’m not sure.”


As you can see, this is a valuable safety precaution. As a result of the “thinking time”, you’ll have only shot the guy twice, instead of a bunch of times.

After firing a few rounds, I checked my target to see how I had done. I was surprised to find that a number of my shots had come pretty close to dead center.

Targets beware. I’m a dangerous hombre!

After shooting a while, I was ready to move up. Matt offered me his 9 millimeter.

What I’m about to describe was hardly my proudest moment. First off, I was incapable of loading the bullets. (I apparently lacked the arm-strength to hold back the spring at the bullet-loading place.) Matt had to load it for me.

You don’t feel all that manly when somebody else has to load your gun for you. Suddenly, I wished I were wearing an explanatory t-shirt with the words, “IT’S MY FIRST TIME…BUT I’M REALLY HAVING FUN!” printed on it.

I took Matt’s gun, walked over and faced the target. I remember needing to brace my shooting hand with my other hand. The 9 millimeter was substantially heavier than the .22.

I pointed the gun at the target and fired. And fired. And fired. And fired. And fired.

I quickly learned that if you don’t let go of the trigger of the 9 millimeter, the bullets keep flying out, one after another. Goodbye “thinking time.” You’re simply blasting away. Which is helpful if your adversary “passed” on “thinking time” and is blasting away at you.

I’m sure if you take lessons, they teach you to take your finger off the trigger. But that first time, it felt much less like I was firing the gun than that I was standing there watching as the gun fired itself.

Maybe it was smoky in there. Maybe it was pungent gunmetal oil burning my eyes. Maybe it was a dusty place. But for some reason, my eyes kept tearing up.

That was my only visit to the gun club.

(But I still watch cowboys on T.V.)


A. Buck Short said...

Living as one does here in Big D, in the sometime home of both Lee Oswald and John Hinckley (hardly ever get a credit on the latter, always Colorado this, Colorado that – but he also went to Texas Tech, which may be the reason why the kid was allowed those St. Elizabeth’s weekend furloughs – having already done enough time in Lubbock), small firearms humor has always been one of our favorites. It's a travesty that, as a Canadian, you're probably still ineligible to run for Vice President. Yeh, that little weaponry farce was also presented down the road apiece on one of our “stages,” just not the noon one half of these folks should be run out of town on. With bullets, I’ve learned from personal experience, the higher the caliber, the safer you are. That’s why, as an individual of the Hebraic persuasion down here, I prefer the .44 Magnum cartridge I always carry in my left breast pocket. Once while out trying to rustle up a decent corned beef sandwich (good luck finding anything but top round, we use all the brisket for BBQ) I found myself approached by a crazed Jews for Jesus evangelical preacher. Enraged to find me unwilling to accept anyone other than the late Abe Burrows as my own personal lord and savior, out of nowhere, the gentleman hurled a good sized copy of the New Testament directly at me from a relatively close distance. Had it not been for the bullet in my left breast pocket, why that bible might have pierced my heart.

MikeThe Blogger said...

"Had it not been for the bullet in my left breast pocket, why that bible might have pierced my heart."

Thank you, Woody Allen. ;-)

growingupartists said...

Maybe if you spent a little time with Angelina Jolie, you'd gain your confidence back. I know how easily influenced you are by women. With guns.

A. Buck Short said...

Hoo-boy, is my face lox-colored! For thirty years I thought I had made that bullet yarn up.

First I’d like to thank both the academy… and deregulation… for allowing us to treat Mr. E.P.’s personal property as a common carrier/utility to communicate freely with one another. (Insert clip of gameshow host advising contestant that FCC regulations prohibit her from saying “Hi” to cousin Sylvia in Schenectady – immediately followed by the host saying “Hi cousin Sylvia” himself. Some good times, huh.

So on your prompt, M-the-B, I Google Woody Allen, bible, gun, and am directed to a complete Merkel Press transcript of the album “Woody Allen Standup Comic 1964-68 -- wherein I am immediately confronted with your referenced Allen bit. Still unwilling to accept myself as the sort given to even subliminal kleptokomedy, I do not remember ever hearing Mr. Allen’s version. This period of denial lasted until I pondered the conundrum of why then do I recognize every single other Allen bit in the transcript with fondness like it was yesterday? The mind is a mysterious thing.

I realize it is not exculpatory your Honor, but we can assure that I’ve have never previously related the story on more than 116-117 prior occasions. Tops. And only two of those were on horseback. I see no need here to habeas any of the hilarity in question, only to submit as Exhibit-A, the evidence that said story was last employed in a September 2007 Jewish High Holy Day blog posting, under the extenuating circumstances of “How could I not!” Continuing today’s theme of Fun-with-Firearms, the italics below are the wraparound in my post, the rest, directly out of the Dallas Morning News:

ONLY IN TEXAS - For your dining and dancing pleasure, we call your attention to the following, excerpted from the Dallas Morning News story by Jeffrey Weiss (12:00 AM CDT on Wednesday, September 19, 2007). If you can resist going to the Dallas Morning News link at the end of this post, mazeltov, you’ve got real willpower.

HE CALLS GUNSHOT MISHAP; Temple restates its no-firearms policy


Temple Emanu-El of Dallas is sending members an unusual pre-Yom Kippur message: Please don't pack heat in the synagogue. And by the way, the fellow who dropped his gun last week is very, very sorry.

The special letter, mailed Tuesday in advance of this weekend's High Holiday services, was a reaction to an incident that briefly made last week's Rosh Hashanah service the most famous in the nation. But not in a good way.

A 50-year member of the congregation stood for a prayer Wednesday night, and his legally concealed handgun slipped to the floor and went off. Three people were slightly injured, but the service was not interrupted.

The man with the gun, Marvin Marks, is a retired police officer. He is not to be confused with Marvin Marks, the retired furniture store owner who was sitting one row back and a few seats over and had nothing to do with the mishap.

Mr. Marks, who is 81, also had a word of apology for his fellow Mr. Marks, who is 86 and had to explain a few times that he didn't drop the gun.

Following the service, the entire congregation retired to the lobby for lavish New Year's refreshments donated by the Jewing family of Southfork, and featuring a chopped liver mold in the shape of Larry Hagman. (BTW, one of the injured worshippers was Mr. Marks' daughter, who he shot in the foot. We are not making up this last part.)

Only in Texas. Not to pimp this any further, but if you are interested in the wardrobe that complemented this story, you can find it here:

bbot said...

This sounds like a fully automatic weapon, and the only automatic weapon that could be mistaken for a handgun would be the Glock 18, which was never sold to the general public.

Was your friend, by chance, a FBI agent, or exceedingly wealthy to the point of being able to afford a class III license?

Willy B. Good said...

I think I just heard Charlton Heston roll over in his grave.