I used to think of myself as some sort of badass...well, that was until the day I shot my first gun. I mean talk about a rude awakening and getting checked right back into reality. I've obviously been living in some fantasy world. I walked into the range thinking this is going to be awesome, fun, and surely this would secure my badass credential. Yeah, I was little apprehensive. However, with 10+ lanes of guys in an enclosed space shooting guns I should have been very apprehensive. Well, five rounds later, I handed the 9mm gun back to the husband and said I was good. I stood there defeated as I watched him unload round after round.
As I stood there watching him my heart was pounding, my hands were clammy, and I just all around felt uneasy. WTF? I thought this was supposed to be fun.
This is what I remember about what really freaked me out: flinching when the gun went off, the recoil jolting my hands up in the air, and before pulling the trigger on subsequent rounds sort of closing my eyes in anticipation of the first two things I mentioned.
At this point, I figured guns aren't for me and this feeling basically sucked.
I agreed to go back to the range even though I really had no business being there. My heart steadily jumping out of my chest, my hands were even more clammy, the guns people were shooting sounded so insanely loud and earth moving, and I’m pretty certain everyone was staring at me. Now why did I agree to come back to the range with my husband?! The plan was that I would shoot a full mag (10 rounds – DC law #womp) and he would shoot a full mag. Yeah, I got through about 5 rounds again with all the same things happening as the first time but maybe even worse. The recoil was bad, the gun didn’t feel good in my hands, and I kept flinching. I had had enough. Those people that I thought were staring, were definitely staring now. I think I left more terrified than the first time.
The few times after that I went to the range with the husband, I just sat in the waiting area. Watching through the window at young kids, men, and women just shooting away. No one appearing to be nervous or even care that people were watching. It’s like they all had been doing this for years, including my husband. Who was this guy?!
I told my husband that I would give it another chance if we took a class. Maybe a class would help put me at ease because I still really wasn't familiar with different parts of the gun or any of the "rules of the game".
I realize I need to make one point here, the husband didn't just hand me a loaded gun and tell me to shoot. He showed me all the basics and stood there assisting me where I needed. Okay back to the story.
So we signed up to the take the NRA First Steps class. Along with the class came an hour of range time. Great – here I go again subjecting myself to this nightmare. The class was great and provided lots of helpful tips that definitely made me feel more at ease. We had range time assisted by the instructor and luckily for us we were the only two in the class. The instructor brought is .22 caliber gun and had me start with that. He provide guidance regarding my form, stance, and breathing (all which I cannot remember anymore). I was extremely nervous and over thinking & anticipating that this .22 would shoot the same as a 9mm. If someone had a barf bag, I probably would've used it. I pulled the trigger on my first round. Much to my surprise, it wasn’t bad - it wasn't great but it wasn't bad. He offered some other adjustments and I completed shooting 10 rounds. I didn’t feel awesome or think it was fun but it felt much better than before. I wasn’t flinching, the recoil was basically non-existent. Seriously no recoil - this was great. I had a fairly decent grouping on the target. So he asks if I wanted to try the husbands Beretta PX4. I was hesitant but figured with the instructor there it couldn’t be so bad. And surprisingly it wasn’t. The recoil was definitely more intense. The guidance he provided and what I had learned definitely helped. My groupings on the target were all together, somewhere to the right. Not bad at all. I was a little proud.
I left feeling better but still wary. For a few weeks after the class, I practiced some basic things at home with the husband’s gun. Mainly focusing on safety, grip, stance, and becoming familiar with the parts of his gun.
Approximately about a month or two after, we went back to the range and it was like nothing had changed. I proceeded to shoot and after less than 5 rounds, I stopped. This time I felt the gun shift/move within my hand. I either wasn't gripping it tight enough or something but that really scared me. It scared me enough that I haven't been back.
So he keeps going to the range and I go shopping.
It really sucks (not the shopping #duh) but the fact that I feel so strongly against going back. I can't pin point one specific thing about it that is freaking me out about this but it's just everything.
So it's time to get off my ass and get started on this. I'm currently looking into some classes with instructors offering guided range time to help get me back in.
I'd love to hear about your first time at the range. Leave me a comment below, tweet me, or leave me comment on instagram.
* The Girl Meets Gun posts is a series that documents my road to gun ownership.