I shot a gun today. I didn’t want to, but for some reason, ever since we acquired this farm, my middle daughter, we’ll call her Fauna, has been all about learning how to handle and shoot a gun. My husband, Quick Draw McGraw, the father of three girls and outnumbered by women in the house for 24 years now, wiped the stunned tears from his eyes. “Sure, princess. We’ll shoot a gun.”
So there we all were on our farm neighbor’s shooting range. I had never even touched a gun, never wanted to. So, he patiently explained the safety measures of a gun: Firstly, one’s own mind. Secondly, one’s own finger. That is precisely what scares me about guns, and me with a gun more specifically. My mind can wander to grocery lists and house projects and such at inopportune times: driving, trying to find an old email, listening to Quick Draw spout off about politics. Just the kind of stuff that could end up with me shooting my foot off.
At any rate, there I was watching my beautiful, lanky daughter don the protective eye gear and ear covers as she held a revolver in her hand. Then a pistol. Then a Glock, for the love of God. (Just the name "Glock" makes me grimace. I mean, what is that?) It was nauseating to see at first. But she did a fine job, and didn’t kill me, herself or anyone else. Then daughter number one joined the party. Flora, dressed in shorts and a yoga shirt on her petit frame, is a young, vocal liberal. Having her handle a gun was like seeing a talking dog or something. Very odd. But she took to it like a natural, though, with deadly aim, which makes me nervous for the next dinnertime political debate.
Next it was my turn and by now I was intrigued. If lanky Fauna and yoga master Flora can do it, so could I. (Meriwether was sitting this one out, watching suspiciously from afar). When I was handed the gun, it felt heavier than I thought, but also familiar.
“Oh! It feels like those water pistols at the shooting gallery at Cedar Point!” Except not.
I refused to let my mind wander and became very serious. I looked at the target.
“Does it have to be a human form?” I thought.
Rest the butt of the gun in the crook of your thumb and grab the handle. Use your other hand to grab the handle as well, and then point your finger along the shaft. Turn off the safety. (Wait. Argh!) That’s when it became scary. Aim down the barrel at your target and, just like it’s a water pistol, pull the trigger.
Yep. I shot a gun. Several times. Lots of times. And I am a good shot as it turns out. Go figure. Take that Annie Oakley (we're both from Ohio). When the nausea settled down, the adrenaline kicked in. I took a look at the target and found I shot that mother right down the middle.
“Yuck” … but also, “Go me!” And then, “Bring it on, mother@##*er!” Yikes. Who am I? Scar Face in yoga pants?
I have to say, I understand why people find this … what is it? Entertaining? Exhilarating? Liberating? I mean, I found it actually okay to shoot at a piece of paper and empty beer cans. I have no desire to kill anything.
Our farm is in “gun country.” Those of us who are ignorant of guns, didn’t grow up with them or have any interest in them can make certain assumptions about folks who do. And guess what? They’re not hill jacks, simple or dangerous … or at least not any more-so than non-gun people can be. In chatting with farm neighbors, I have found that when one lives out in the country and is a half hour to 45 minutes or more away from the police, one is inclined to be prepared to take matters into one’s own hands. And many people out in the country hunt, so they practice shooting on the weekends. (Yep, hearing the pop! pop! of gunfire in the distance on a beautiful Saturday morning takes getting used to. Just ask my dog.) In fact, it seems most folks out here carry. When Quick Draw was with a group of friends from home, introducing them to some local farmers, a "city slicker" friend mentioned aloud, "I've never shot gun. Never even touched one." Immediately, without hesitation, about a dozen men put their guns on the table. "It's different out here," one declared.
Our farm manager, I call him The Sheriff, is always packing because we have lots of horses on the property and (farm lesson #104) raccoon and skunk poop is highly toxic to horses, so those suckers are going down before they poison the horses. It took me a long time to realize that when The Sheriff said, “old Rocky Raccoon died of lead poisoning” he meant that he shot that little varmint. Shot him dead. Don’t mess with The Sheriff. Truth be told, it is comforting to know that The Sheriff is packing. It just is.
We have a lot of guns in this country to be sure. I wish it wasn’t so, but as long as we cannot un-ring that bell, I am glad that I now have a very, very rudimentary knowledge on how to handle a gun if, for whatever reason, I come across one. It does make me think, though (I am not in the mood to get all political here) … Why isn’t a gun safety class mandatory for everyone before purchasing a gun? Or maybe, because they’re so ubiquitous, why not make gun safety as regular as learning how to fill your car up with gas or operate an ATM?
As a dear friend would say, “I’m not talking … I’m just saying …”, that’s all.