I’ve never ventured toward political with The 52/52 Project. Still, at the risk of a controversial post (new readers, please don’t unsubscribe now), I must concede I’ve long been an advocate for gun control.
Spending a couple hours with a gun dealer at a shooting range fell way outside my comfort zone. I figured it would either solidify my stance or broaden my thinking. Although, as the 38 Special recoiled in my hands, I feared it was just as likely to result in a quick and bloody end to my 52/52 journey.
I’m pleased to report my two companions and I came away with all our parts intact.
It helped, of course, that the gun dealer accompanying and instructing me was a lifelong friend. He was beyond patient in answering my long litany of questions and even more so in teaching me the proper way to stand, to hold and handle a gun, and to shoot. He was all about safety at the range, which was probably just as fortunate for his young adult son and him as it was for me.
The consensus? Target shooting was a blast—literally.
Besides the 38, I also shot a 22 and a CZ P01. The 38 was the toughest for me to handle. It was too heavy and resulted in less controllable recoil. With the 22 though, I hit my target nine out of ten times.
I have to admit, I enjoyed it. It was not unlike the fun of shooting a water pistol at balloons on the amusement park midway. I didn’t walk away with a cheap stuffed animal, but I did leave with a smile.
Still, each time I felt the force of the gun in my hands and saw the holes ripped through the torso of my paper target, I felt a bit unsettled. And intimidated.
That was a hell of a lot of deadly power I held in my shaky hands.
My host and I had a great deal of discussion about guns that day: about the recreational use, the constitutional right to bear arms, and the need to defend oneself. We differed in our opinions, but we managed to be respectful and polite, as old friends try to be. Unfortunately, passion and politics make calm, logical discussions about such controversial issues far less possible in the wider world.
I came away with a much greater understanding of the idea of shooting for recreation. But, I still can’t say I agree with the ease in which so many people keep firearms—especially loaded—for safety: in their car’s glove compartment, in the side pocket of their living room lounger, or in their purse.
That’s a perpetual debate, far more intense and in-depth than I am willing to venture in my one year of new life experiences.
I didn’t expect this single day would fully change my stance. And it didn't.
I was simply aiming toward pushing my boundaries with a somewhat more open mind—and hopefully, two tightly controlled fists.
Do you shy away from the controversial in life, in your writing, or in social media? Are you a steady shooter or are you shaky at the thought? All my fear and intimidation aside, don't you think I look like a real badass?