Monthly Archives: May 2011

More from Ann Gregory: Goals, Redux

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Last month, Ann Gregory (who is a fellow member of the Ohio Valley RWA chapter) blogged about Goals, Guns and Girls. Now Ann is back with a follow-up to her last post.

Goals, Guns, and Girls, Redux

A couple of weeks ago Anya invited me to write about my experiences at Target World for her blog. Now she has graciously allowed me to write a follow-up piece, which covers our experience at the Target World beginner’s class. Thank you, Anya.

The class started Saturday morning at eight o’clock in the morning. I mention this because I am not a morning person. My normal roll-out-of-bed time is nine a.m., and a start time of eight meant I had to be up at six-thirty in order to get ready and travel the twenty-five miles to the facility. Bill, who is always awake at five-thirty and chipper, knew to stay out of my way until the first cup of coffee took affect. He also made sure no sharp objects were within easy reach.

We were prompt—we arrived at seven-fifty-five, and joined the small crowd that bustled inside when the door opened. We got to skip to the head of the line, because we had purchased our ID cards on our first trip.

We settled onto the hard chairs over by the glass front of the shooting range, where two men with benign smiles and TW name tags stood. The benign smiles were deceiving, as we soon learned these two men were armed to the teeth. The funny thing was we didn’t have a clue. We’ve seen a lot of TV shows where a law enforcement agent will yell, “That guy’s carrying! Stop the car!” And he jumps out even as the tires are still squealing from the applied force on the brakes. If anyone had asked me to bet on whether those two men had concealed weapons, I would have lost some money.

Soon all the other attendees were seated next to us and the instructors (I’ll call them Benign 1 and Benign 2, B1 and B2 for short, because I can’t remember their names) asked us how many people had ever fired a gun before. One hand shot up. So we were pretty much all starting from point zero.

We had to go over some safety rules, the one we all had to memorize being, “Never load or unload your weapon anywhere but on the shooting range. Always keep your weapon pointed toward the target wall.”

B1 did most of the talking. He had an array of revolvers and semi-automatic handguns on the table behind him, and he passed them around so we could look them over and get the feel of them. Some were charming, in a very lethal sort of way, and some just looked, well, lethal. One even had a laser sight on it (one of the cuter semi-automatics). Some of the barrels were short, some long. Some guns were heavy. Some were light.

B2 asked how many of us intended to take the “concealed carry” class. Several of us raised our hands. That’s when B1 showed us first his ankle holster, then his side holster, and his shoulder holster. All held fully-loaded pistols of different sizes. “Everyone in here is armed, and most of us have multiple weapons,” he said.

I leaned over to Bill and said, “This may be the safest place in Cincinnati, outside of a police station.” He nodded.

Then B2 passed around bullets of different sizes, er, calibers. Those little .22 shells were downright cute. The .38’s and 8 mm’s, not so much. “Some people don’t have much respect for .22 caliber shells,” B1 said. “But keep in mind that a lot of people have died when shot with .22’s.”

“There are also a lot of people who look down on those of you who are less experienced with guns,” he continued. “Every Saturday morning, when we open the doors to the public at ten a.m. there’s a line of weekend commandos who snicker and grin at the ‘amateurs’ leaving from the beginner’s class. Don’t let them intimidate you, because what they don’t know is that those of us who have been shooting all our lives know what rank amateurs most of them really are.”

After a little more show and tell B1 said, “Okay, let’s saddle up.” We all grabbed our ear protectors and headed onto the range. Bill and I had already decided to try both a revolver and a semi-automatic. We didn’t get a choice in the calibers of the shells. It was .38’s for the revolvers and 8mm’s for the semi’s.

I chose a revolver first. I really expected my hand would shake and I would be leaning away from the gun with my eyes closed, but actually I leaned into it, braced my feet, held the revolver with both hands, and pulled the trigger. I heard a satisfying “pop” and saw the paper target move. The recoil wasn’t as bad as I had expected.

I had actually hit the target. Bill did better. His bullet was solidly in the “kill zone”. At least it was inside the little body outline. I was impressed. “When this is over, would you like to have coffee, and tell me about yourself?” I batted my eyes and he grinned at my shameless flirting.

After a few more shots our time was up and Bill and I left the shooting range. We dropped our ear protectors into the container and headed to the restrooms to wash the GSR (gun shot residue) from our hands. “Don’t try flying until you’ve showered and changed clothes,” B1 urged. “Otherwise you’ll spend a few hours with airport security trying to convince them you’re not fleeing some crime scene.”

I admit it. I felt like I could kick butt and take names. Just thinking about all the TV shows I’d seen where they waved pistols and threw around the term “GSR” brought out the drama queen, er, writer in me. And I now have several pages of actual experience entered in my binder of reference material. I’m far from a Navy Seal, but I’m not quite the pantywaist I was.

As we exited the building, sure enough we had to run the gauntlet of weekend commandos. There were indeed some smirks and sidewise glances cast in our direction.

It might have intimidated me in years past, but I took revenge in my own way. What I often do now when someone bothers me is take note of their appearance—hair and eye color, clothes, etc.—and jot down the experience in a little notebook. Then when I need a new “character” for a story, I just pull out the notebook and pick one. Which brings to mind one of the favorite sayings of many writers: “Be nice, or you might recognize yourself in my next book.”

I so appreciate Anya letting me contribute to her blog. She is such an interesting person, and it’s a privilege to be in her company. Please stop by her blog often—I guarantee it will be well worth your time.