Sunday, October 26, 2008

Project 30: Guns kill people.

Task 20/30: Shoot a gun.
Complete: October 16, 2008

Markley's Gun Range

I am from a family where there were shotguns in the hallway at my grandparents house, in the closet at my uncles. I don't know if the gun cabinet was locked, I knew better. There were bows under the bed. Hunting and fishing was a thing. I also have lived in cities. I have had friends who have suffered from violence, who have died. I have always known that guns were powerful and to be respected. To me, they were scary. Last year when I started this project planning, I was up late watching the CBS tv show "The Unit" online. It was an episode that went something where the guy was too afraid to pull the trigger and he died or someone he loved died. I can't remember, but what I do remember is being really surprised that was the plot twist that was made in the suspenseful moment. I was shocked, because I identified with that. I think that there is so much for me to think about and review, that it would be possible that I would be too afraid and there would be bad harm. So I thought since it is something I have talked about doing for a while, and have pretty ready access to lots of gun proficient people, I put it on the list as something to do.

Two of my favorite men stepped up to make it their assignment for the project and for almost the entire year hounded me non-stop about going, but I was either too busy or too afraid to deal with it all. Like many of the projects that have come about however, an unplanned opportunity to satisfy my objective fell into my lap. Another one of my favorite men was having his birthday party after work at the local range, and a bunch of us from work descended there for a couple of hours one evening.

Markley's Gun Range Markley's Gun Range

I have to say that overall, the experience was pretty powerful for me, and I am certainly glad that I have done it, but from the start, it was weird. Walking into the gun store that houses the range, it is filled with numerous stuffed victims that pad the walls. There is very little administration and confirmation of identity, to a questionable point. I mean, I blinked and signed my name and there was bullets and a .22 and protective gear in front of me. With no instruction, we walked into the range after covering our eyes and ears and walked to our lanes to settle in. I pretty much jumped every time someone fired for a very long time while we were in there, if not the whole time. You can cover your ears, but it still vibrates and its loud.

Markley's Gun Range

I was too nervous to start without the more experienced of our group, but I watched as a couple of the boys loaded up and shot at targets that looked like zombies. When the gun was empty they showed me the parts and let me touch it and put it together and take it apart again. I just still wasn't comfortable with the bullets part. I mean, hello, anyone who knows me knows that I am clumsy even in the best of all intended circumstances. I am easily distracted, and totally fumbly. To make matters worse, I was fairly intimidated with how small my hands felt on the gun and how much effort I had to exert to shift and move things. I didn't like how big it all felt in my hand and I was dealing with a small gun. I didn't like it and we hadn't even started yet.

Then the rest of the group showed. The part of the group that owns guns and shoots guns often and were there to lead the way. We went outside for a short safety talk, and for me, some fresh air. I was having a hard time. I wasn't liking how loud it was, I certainly didn't like how dangerous it was. I was pretty sure it was all a bad idea, and was trying to figure out how I could get out of firing one of those things. There was more safety talk, with lots of emphasis on the danger. There was a point when there was a pause and a note that this "wasn't helping Tori" and then confirmation that didn't help that "yes, you should be scared." My friends were right, it wasn't helping and there was no way to hide the fact I was going to have a girl second and a tear rolled down my cheek. Damn. It's okay, I recovered.

We went back inside and there was lots of lessons now with the gun and lots of watching and picture taking for me. But then it was done with everyone else and it was my time. So I took a few minutes with the gun and just me and did the practicing of the pieces again a few times until I felt comfortable. I was so scared. And not in a way like I am scared with a lot of things, but in a bad way that isn't pushing boundaries but that I just was terrified. I didn't like it one bit. I wasn't sure I could do bullets. I wasn't sure I was unfumbly enough to load it. I knew I wasn't leaving there without pulling the trigger once, but could I really load the clip and stick it in the gun? This is an entire action that is not with a safety on, I could drop it or someone could yell my name and I could forget and turn around or I would point it down and shoot my foot. I mean, hello, let's pause for a minute people who know me and realize that they let me, the girl who broke her arm walking, hold a thing that is meant to kill people. Yes, cars and planes kill people, but their main purpose in mechanical operation is not to provide mortal wounds. So I figured if I could load it, that I would be pushing my boundaries enough. It may seem silly but I have gotten to this point in my life where I am perfectly comfortable with my path even if it isn't as extreme as other peoples. This was one of those things. To the boys it was nothing to load clip after clip in bigger and bigger guns and fire into target after target. But for me, just being there was a big deal, so getting through the next steps was huge, even if small in comparison.

Markley's Gun Range

I got to put the bullets in the clip and the clip into the gun and stand and fire. It wasn't as scary firing the first one, but once I had done it, I just wanted all the bullets to be gone and it to be over. I could hear my friend saying that I should stay steady and I knew I was supposed to be aiming but all I could think was trying to keep it pointed forward and begging for it all to be over quickly. It seemed like it took so long and then it was done and I just wanted the weapon out of my hand. It felt good to have done it and I was happy that I went and I shot. But it didn't seem to have the effect of lessening fear that I wanted and maybe instead makes guns more real so maybe I fear and respect them more now.

Markley's Gun Range

It is just so weird how easy it was that a gun was in my hands and how easy it could have all gone wrong. It just seems so weird to me that people think that they are fun and exciting. I mean, I realized recently that many things I dislike are really things I misunderstand and are in awe over, and I think that this is one of those things. It is weird, because while this is something that was much less fun than say a Broadway show, it is something that was a big impact and a growing experience for me. I will probably think about it and process it for years and I think that I accomplished what I had wanted to do for me. I needed to know that I could pull the trigger of a gun, and now that I know that I have, I know that I can. I know myself like that, and that means I don't really need guns in my life. But this, thankfully, is finally MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!

Markley's Gun Range

No comments: