April 25, 2005

The Blue Man Would Die... At Close Range

TGOO and I went shooting on Friday. I had looked in the yellow pages for a good shooting range that rented guns. We found one close by and went for an hour. It’s a great range, hand gun, rifle, and archery. They sell anything you could want, permitted you are legally allowed to buy it, and they offer all sorts of lessons and classes.

I rented a Lady Smith .38 special. It fit nicely in my hand. TGOO had his .45. He got me a silhouette, which I hearby call 'blue man' as it was blue and was of a man, to shoot at while he took a bullseye.

I’d never shot before. Ever. I’d never been shooting, never heard a gun fire. Being a person who prefers quiet and startles easy, it took me awhile to get used to the noise that a gun makes, even with ear protection.

TGOO had me aiming at the center of mass and he had the blue man at what he called ‘bedroom range’. Someone comes into your bedroom, this is the distance he will most likely be from the bed. Of course there are many assumptions here, that the gun is on my nightstand, etc., etc., but it was a good place to start. (I have kids, there will be no gun on my nightstand.)

For those who know nothing about guns, the .38 is a revolver and it holds 5 bullets. He had me shoot it two ways, one with the hammer already cocked and the other with my slowly pulling on the trigger until it fired. Either way, I am way too jumpy. The noise and the recoil, although very small, was a lot for me to get used to.

I started with hitting blue man twice in the neck. I was aiming for his stomach. This is with taking careful aim, forget being pumped full of adrenaline at 2AM in the dark. I was kind of depressed. I mean it seemed so simple. Look down the gun, through the site, I see what I want, pull the trigger… and I’m off by 9 inches.

TGOO’s .45 is sweet. It’s loud as hell, the kickback was much greater, and the grip was hard on my hands, but it was smooth. Bam, I nailed blue man. Big hole in his stomach. No matter where TGOO told me to aim, as long as I was still at bedroom distance, I nailed him give or take an inch or two. Shoulder, head, neck, center of mass, blue man would have been a dead man.

However, swap blue man for the bulls eye and push it out further and I started out barely tagging the target. Whereas TGOO had nice big holes right in the center of the target, I ended by barely nailing the outer ring. I was better, but I still need practice.

We had me in a solid stance, two hands. We fired with me in a solid stance, one hand. TGOO also had me lay the gun down, spontaneously pick it up and fire, one handed. Over and over and over we fired. I fired the .38 and then he’d have me do a couple rounds with his .45. I got better with time, but I am a long way from being any expert or even being comfortable. A long damn way.

We left with my left ear ringing (yes I was wearing eye and ear protection) and my hands, wrists and forearms sore. Even if I can get over my jumpiness, which I will, I still have to contend with my poor hand and arm strength. That one is going to take time. I told TGOO that arm and hand strength is something men take for granted… they don’t think about having it as it ‘just is’. To those of us without it, it is something to work on.

So… bottom line… gun purchasing will not be this year. I’ll be going down once a month to the range and renting and firing on my own. I have some classes I want to take on gun safety, etc. There may be a couple other models I want to try out. I liked the Lady Smith .38, but before I invest that kind of money, I want to be sure that’s the one I want; the one I can use comfortably.

And for those who have been curious as to why I am thinking of carrying, I’ve had some things occur lately. I was in what I think was a potentially bad situation a little over a month ago, where I was thinking to myself, ‘I wish I had a gun’. I have not blogged on the situation and do not intend to. Also, my husband has started to travel more and I am taking to the roads more, alone with my boys.

I have a game plan in my head for myriad situations, but would feel better if a gun was in the plan. TGOO has been telling me for years that I needed to get one. I have resisted for personal reasons… but now it is time.

Posted by Boudicca at April 25, 2005 09:24 PM

Good on you. Not just for making the decision to take charge and protect yourself and loved ones, but for doing it in a responsible manner. Plenty of range time, instruction and then lots and lots and lots more range time... until you become comfortable with the self-defense tool of your choice as an extension of your own capabilities.

And plenty of time with people who know how to handle themselves responsibly. Handling a gun responsibly is only half (an important, but smaller "half") the prep. You're on the right road to getting there. TGOO (I love the title) will guide you well, it seems, from the initial experience you describe. Listen and learn, Grasshopper.


Posted by: David at April 25, 2005 10:09 PM

The guys are going to booohiss this one , but try a 22 out. The recoil is not bad, smaller easier to handle, less noise. Might help you get over being so jumpy. Also very easy to hit the target and build confidence when using it! My 2 cents....

Posted by: ArmyWifeToddlerMom at April 25, 2005 10:34 PM

I agree with ArmyWife. I learned to shoot from my ex and I found the 22 easier to learn with and move on to other guns. BTW, I suck at shooting a pistol, but I don't jump anymore and would at least hit the object.

Posted by: vw bug at April 26, 2005 06:53 AM

I'm not going to boohis armywife, until you get more comfortable a .22 is a good practice/beginer weapon. In my oppinion.

Posted by: Contagion at April 26, 2005 08:27 AM

I started with a .22 I still carry a snub-nose, titanium light-weight .22 cause it literally fits in my palm and is deadly accurate. The 9mm and the .45 are too big for me to carry, they are at home. I love my Taurus .22 though.

Posted by: oddybobo at April 26, 2005 09:26 AM

.. keep practicing, Bou.. over time you will settle down.. and with more experience, you'll find the gun that is right for you.. try out a few .380s too.. Beretta makes a nice, small framed Cheetah model..

Posted by: Eric at April 26, 2005 10:21 AM

Hand and arm strength will come with practice, as will accuracy. Good for you.

Posted by: Jenna at April 26, 2005 02:54 PM

I'll jump on the .22 handgun rec too. I've not fired a .22 handgun - only rifles, but it's a nice small caliber to get comfortable with and to build up strength. Rather like - if you had never lifted any weight before, you wouldn't start with 20 lb. dumbbells - you'd start with 2.5 or 5 and work your way up. I've got really really bad hand and arm strength myself, so I know what you mean about that. Not to mention that the noise on the thing is far less than the larger calibers.

Posted by: Teresa at April 26, 2005 04:06 PM

Sure, the .22 is very nice as a gun to get used to, just don't plan on actually using it for defense. I still shoot a .22 often, mainly because the ammo is dirt cheap! I'm saving up now for one of the .22 target pistols.

Good to hear you enjoyed it! Having been in the situation before, quite often just the sight of a gun is enough and you'll never have to shoot.

Posted by: Ogre at April 27, 2005 02:52 PM

You can often get .22 revolvers in the exact same frame/configuration as the larger caliber models.

Great for building up the arm strength and you can burn serious quantities of ammo through it without emptying your bank account.

Posted by: Graumagus at April 27, 2005 04:51 PM