Mt. Rainier and Lenticular Clouds - Dec. 2008 copyright: JMM

March 18, 2007

That's when I reach for my revolver

She's a beauty, eh? Brian got it for me for Christmas in 2005. I've only been target shooting with it once (at an outdoor range) but I have to admit, I'm pretty dang good. Good enough to have impressed him, and he was almost sniper-certified in the army, but for his colourblindness.

Back in August, 1999, when we first moved into our house, Brian decided that he wanted to get a handgun for protection, now that we were living on a pretty dark street. He got a Smith & Wesson 9mm semi-automatic, similar to the one pictured here. It's your standard cop-issue weapon.

He purchased the gun from Bullseye, in Puyallup, and discovered at the same time that they have an indoor range, with about 12 "stalls"

One Sunday afternoon that fall, he invited me to go with him. He figured that I should at least know how the weapon worked and fire it a few times. I was less than enthused, but decided to go anyway. After all, I'd played with capguns my entire childhood, so why should I be afraid of a real gun?

We got to Bullseye and I was provided with protective goggles and big honkin' ear protectors. Quite the fashion statement, let me tell ya.

The store manager assigned us to a stall, and pointed us in the right direction. To enter the gun range, you go through a door into what I decribe as "an airlock", just a dark, little vestibule with carpeting on all the walls, and one door into the shop, and another door into the range. Brian strode confidentally to our assigned stall, with me trailing half-heartedly along behind him, unsure of what to expect. He took his position at the little ledge/table and began to load his gun. I, meanwhile, tried to make myself as small as humanly possible, by folding my arms tightly, and squeezing in next to him, on his left side.

Unfortunately, despite the fact that there were only maybe 2-3 other occupied stalls in the entire range, the manager placed us next to Dirty Harry. He was firing a freakin cannon in the stall to the left of us, and hot, spent shells were raining down on my head and shoulders. Brian didn't notice at first because he was excited to squeeze off a few rounds. Meanwhile, I'm starting to sweat profusely from nerves and discomfort. It was so bad that my goggles fogged up and I couldn't see.

Brian turns to me and asks if I'd like to try shooting. I shook my head "no", arms still folded tightly across my chest, the smell of my singed hair thick in the air (OK, I just added that last part for dramatic effect). I shook my head again. He said, "C'mon, just shoot it once, OK? Just once." So I reluctantly took the gun from him and stood at the shooting ledge. He pointed at the target down range and told me how to hold my hand steady, aim and squeeze the trigger. Mind you, my goggles are still fogged up and I can't see the damn target. So I shut my eyes, turned my head, shot the gun, and dropped it on the ledge, and resumed my arms-folded-tightly-across-my-chest position.

Not unkindly, he said to me, "Would you like to wait outside?" and I nodded "yes" furiously. I turned and bolted towards the door into the airlock. As I entered, I couldn't see the door to the store because my goggles were fogged up. So I'm standing in the airlock, pounding on the walls with my palms like a crazed mime doing the "caught in a box" routine, till I found the door. I stumbled into the store, and whip off my goggles and ear protection. The manager was chatting with a Washington State Patrol officer at the counter, and they both stopped in mid-sentence and looked at me, somewhat amused. I slammed the goggles and ear protex on the counter and looked up at them with my bright red, sweaty face. The manager said, "Are you alright?" and I said, "That is so not for me...I'm just gonna go sit down over there for a bit and wait for my husband."

And that is the story of my first experience shooting a gun.


  1. LMFAO!

    Uh, laughing WITH you!

    Go read about Andie's first experience.

    You might feel a little better.


  2. You have no idea how shocking it is for a Brit to hear about ordinary US citizens having guns as a normal part of life. It's a completely alien and very scary prospect.

  3. Val - I was actually going to leave a comment that I expected this post to have very few comments, esp. from my British friends & your cousin Don up in Canada, b/c of our gun laws. It's a very controversial subject even down here. But Mark asked me to do a blog entry about my first time at the range.

    Our Second Amendment guarantees us the right to own guns. The criminals will always be able to get their hands on them whether or not they are legal, and I'd rather be able to protect myself. I don't think gun control works in other countries. Remember, "guns don't kill people, people kill people."

  4. LIzzzard6:03 PM

    Your "guns don't kill" remark reminds me of a true story- I had a friend who worked at GE making/developing army weapons. There were a lot of protesters outside the factory everyday. One yelled at my friend and asked him why did he have to make weapons - couldn't he make toasters instead? My friend replied, "I make weapons because it is damn hard to kill a man with a toaster".
    Hubbers has always had a gun for work- usually 2. Besides an obscene amount of safety precautions, I also made it very clear that the kids were never to get a toy gun as a gift. I wrote it right on party invites. Guns are never toys. My Canadian neighbours used to laugh at the wacky American who wouldn't let her kids have a cap gun or a water pistol. Now a light saber, that's another story...

  5. Wow...I like the 9mm.I would love to try target shooting BUT being legally blind that COULD be hazardous!I am getting curious about our NEW local roller derby team though...gotta learn to skate first!I would be only the third non-military (or military wife) on the teams.

    Here in the rural South (and being steps away from the biggest military base on the East coast) guns are a part of life.I have no issue with home protection,my father had a gun in the house.My issue is with hunters,but THAT is not something I feel like blogging about.

    Although,if anyone has Lifetime (the burning bed channel) and watches "Snapped",well my lovely hometown of two years has had not one but TWO episodes based on the damned crazy people in this town!

  6. interesting, i am not sure how i feel about it. my husband was stabbed when we were in college and i immediately thought "i'm getting a gun!" but i don't think it would have helped anything.

    i fully believe that we should always have the right to have them though.

    that 1st one is a beauty!

    I shot a rifle once when i was like 10, i was at this boy scout thing with my brother and they let me try, here i was gonna be this tough girl and shoot with the boys, but when the shell casing (i think that's what it's called!?) thing came out it landed on my hand and burned it and i cried! whimpy girl!!

  7. Anonymous10:04 PM

    JoJo-great first time gun story. I have a .357 Ruger myself that I keep. My first experience shooting was years ago when I was a police cadet. We were allowed to practice at the range. When I got to use the shotgun, I loved it.


  8. wow what an experience. i remember my first time shooting. i shot a glock 40 (cop gun) and its scary as sh*t. i actually injured myself the first time i shot but i had a hell of a lot of fun! i'm not gettin firearms training from the police academy's firearms instructor. i'll have to do a post about it. i love it. i'm almost ready to be a cop! :)

  9. We own guns. The other day my hubby and were talking about how they are locked up (separate from the ammo) and how this would render them rather useless in the event of a break in. I love my (barking) dogs! Seriously though, my mother warded off some dude with a shotgun back in the day when we lived in the boondocks.
    People will always find ways to kill one another.

  10. JoJo, I know about your laws on owning a gun. In my other life my shooting insturctor made me do 50 push-ups when he heard the click when I fired into an empty cylinder. The rule was that we had to leave one empty spot open in the 6 round Smith & Weston reveolver. (don't ask me why) something to do with if the gun is taken from you, the first shot would be fired on an empty cyclinder;and if we didn't count the shots off as we were shooting, that click could be heard and we would be in trouble.

  11. Anonymous10:57 AM

    Val: actually the 2nd ammendment was written to protect us from tyranny in government.
    The Founders knew what it was like to live in a Country where you weren't allowed to have arms.

    "The real beauty of the 2nd Ammendment is, we won't need it, until they try and take it"
    -Thomas Jefferson

    And George Washington called the 2nd Ammendment the most important of all because it defends all the others.