Today, I did something I have never done before.
I shot a gun.
Yep, in 40 years on this planet I have done a lot of things, been to many places and had a lot of experiences. But I had never fired a weapon.
I have always wondered what it would be like. I mean, our country has the most guns per capita than any other in the world and they are such a part of our culture. I wanted to see what - if anything - I was missing out on.
The fact that the facility right next to my office building over in Redmond is a gun range...and the fact that a buddy of mine from work invited me over there to give it a try...just was too good to pass up. I was able to act on my curiosity when the opportunity arose.
All that said, for any of you who - like me until just today - had never fired a gun, I thought you might be interested in what it was like and my take on the experience...
Guns are loud! Sure, you know on some level that guns make a loud noise when fired, but just how loud literally shakes you scull and buzzes your eardrums when you walk into the concrete confines of a gun range. This happened to me as the fist guy on the range when we walked through the door was firing a HUGE ass weapon of some sort. Earphones or plugs are a necessity.
There was no great "rush" or any fear. I was actually glad to realize that I was neither "turned on" by firing a gun nor afraid of it. If either had happened, I think I'd be a bit concerned about myself. Such was not the case, however, and I think I have a healthy respect for what a gun can do first hand without feeling like it somehow makes me feel bigger or tougher or something.
Some of the targets were odd and disturbing. You could purchase a different variety of targts to shoot at. About half of them were traditional targets. You know, white paper with concentric circles with a bulls eye in the middle or an outline of a human figure. However, you could also buy a target that looked like Osama bin Laden or any number of targets that were zombies in various garb - a Nazi, a Hells Angle type, a woman (kinda disturbing, that one) and a vaugely hip-hop looking guy (again, kinda disturbing). Depite their appearance as zombies, I thought there were some other messages being sent there. Oh well, I've only ever been to one gun range, so I'll just let it go.
Even a group of Japanese tourists likes to shoot guns. How do I know that? Because a group of young Japanese tourists (they were clearly visiting from Japan) had taken over about half of the gun range when we were there. Some were firing pistols and some shooting what looked like an assault rifle. Not sure what their motivation was, but it crossed my mind that between Japanese being typically enamored by American movies and culture and the fact that gun laws are much stricter in Japan (but hey, gun laws in virtually every nation are stricter that the U.S.) these people may have wanted to experience what shooting a gun was like. I mean, lets face it. Through our movies, TV shows, video games, crime rates and our foreign policy, to people from most countries around the world, the USA = guns. So, it was not too surprising to me to see some non-Americans at the range.
Americans have access to some serious fire power. The gun store right next to the range featured fire arms of all types, from the simple revolver, hunting rifles, handguns of all types and all the way up to assault rifles that clearly are more at home in the military than in anyone's private posession. Our freedom to possess firearms is vitually unlimited...and the gun store makes sure you have all options within the law. Which are a lot of options. It just struck me that with all that freedom needs to come responsibility, and it personally didn't strike me as responsible to sell semi-automatic assault rifles to the public. I know it's legal, but that's my opinion.
So there you go. A few observations on the occassion of my firing a gun for the first time. Will I be joining the NRA, buying a gun and saying things like, "...from my cold dead hand!" while raising my weapon above my head for applause? No. I won't. But, now at least I have an experience firing a gun to draw from as I ponder about how people use and think about them.