You read it right – I went to a gun range.
My boyfriend and I had a Groupon for Pioneer Shooting Center since the winter (January or so). We intended to go on a double date with another couple (the only reason why we took the leap and bought the Groupon), but things fell through on their end. Since the other part was not able to (
flaking), we pushed it off for a while. My boyfriend and I were both still in school, and my school was upstate. Therefore, it was a bit hard to arrange a weekend where things coordinated and we were able to go. After months, we were able to work something out, and went last weekend.
I was very anxious before going, partially due to my trait anxiety, partly due to my anxiety around new situations, and partly due to the idea of handling a weapon. We arrived at the building, went downstairs, and got signed in and seated. Once we were comfortable in the waiting room, we were instructed to fill out waivers (you know…in case you somehow injure/maim/kill yourself). After signing those and waiting for some time, we were handed a pair of headphones and goggles. I felt awkward putting the goggles on since I already wear glasses, but it wasn’t uncomfortable. Once we were “geared up,” we were directed into the range area by one of the employees, Ceasar (he’s amazing btw). My anxiety shot up once we walked through the door since there were some other folks there who were shooting larger rounds. The discharge made a very loud *pop* noise, and I am very sensitive to loud sounds. I had to step out for a quick second after realizing I didn’t take my earrings out, as that prevented my headphones from fully covering my ears.
Once that was sorted, we were brought over to our booths where the instructional part started (30 minute instruction/up to 1.5 hours free time). We were first shown the magazine, bullets, and how to load the bullets (10 at a time). Remember the anxiety thing? Yeah. I got about 2 bullets in before I started getting overwhelmed. My boyfriend had already finished loading his, and I was feeling even more pressure since they were waiting for me. I think Caesar felt bad for me (lol) and loaded the rest of the bullets for me. He tried to make me feel better by saying that it was more important to learn the gun, how to handle it, and marksmanship. He then proceeded to show us how to hold the gun with our “loser grip,” to keep our hands on the textured parts (we were using rifles), when to have the safety on/off, and how to keep the gun pointed.
I was very anxious already, and was feeling overwhelmed still. Caesar loaded my magazine into the gun for me, reminded me how to position, and guided me through the aiming. Below is a video of my first round!
As you can see, I have pretty decent aim! Once I saw that, I calmed down a little bit. I was still having trouble loading my bullets, so this time the owner, Joe came to help me. He also asked me if I wanted to shoot further out (you can practice at increments of 10 ft. past the baseline), so I said “sure.”
At this point, Caesar was telling me how to shoot at that distance since I had to consider that bullets start to climb a bit. He told me to use my first three shots as tests, and adjust my aim from there. Below I have a picture of my target. The second round (bottom right) went pretty smoothly as well! After firing all of those off, I felt a bit more at ease so I was able to refill the magazine myself. For my third round (bottom left), I started off a bit badly, but this was because I didn’t have the aim thing up to help me out. Once I realized that, I did much better. After this, I fired off my last round (top left target).
Overall, I did pretty well if I do say so myself. Caesar said that women are usually better shooters (I wonder if that’s true, and if so….why). As for the whole experience? Once my anxiety subsided, I enjoyed it. I think that this was because it is something you really have to be focused to do, and it is something you can perfect. I’m still not too won over by the whole gun thing, but I would consider going back.
Have any of you ever been to a gun range? If so, how did it go?