At the risk of landing a spot on the homeland security watch list, I’m going to blog about going shooting again.

Yes, but this time it was handgun shooting. For the first time.

A friend of mine was going with her dad. For her, it was more than just a lark. She had a scary experience where she felt like she might have a need to protect herself, and her dad agreed to buy her a gun and teach her to shoot. Never one to miss an opportunity to scare myself s@#%less, I invited myself to tag along.

I had less than 24 hours to acquaint myself with the reality of going. I don’t know many people, especially women, who go target shooting, so I knew I had to jump on it. However, guns scare the beep out of me. I don’t really like them, but I believe that I need to learn how to use them, and I like the idea of the sport of it. So I put myself in my car, hands shaking as I plugged the address into the GPS.

Once we arrived, it was in a strip mall. Okay, I didn’t expect that at all. We walked in, and I started eyeing the people. Think about it…I was about to be side-by-side with God knows who and a gun, and I sure as hell wouldn’t have a chance in a shootout. From the initial impression, though, most of the people just looked like normal people. No one looked like they had just escaped a mental institution, no one was acting drunk or drugged, no one was acting suspicious.

Except for me, apparently. The guy at the desk right away welcomed us and said, “this is going to be fine, don’t look so scared.” I thought I was pulling it off, but no. There were no other women in there, which is intimidating, and I thought I had my butch attitude going, but no. As my son would say, “fail.” I abandoned all pretenses and admitted my nervousness. I must say the guys working there (shout out to Autrey’s Armory were super cool, welcoming, and encouraging. They even have a Ladies’ Night!

I had to put my headsets on to protect my ears and choose a paper target. The choices were green person outline, bad guy, and circles. Since we were there because of some idiot who liked to prank call women, I chose the green person outline. The bad guy one freaked me out, the circles were bland, so I chose the green one because it didn’t really look like a person but kind of. I walked into the shooting range with my friend’s dad and BANG…BANG…BANG. I jumped and almost did that Animal House/Jim Belushi stance as an instinct. Holy Loud-To-My-Inner-Depths. It took a good 10 minutes to stop jumping and for my hands to be steady enough to shoot. Luckily, my friend’s dad had to instruct me anyway. Nicest guy, and very knowledgeable and professional about it all.

More or less what I looked like.

The trigger was super hard to pull. He explained that it was a safety feature. It ain’t gonna go off by accident. No way. I had to use all possible index finger strength just to pull the trigger. And I did alright. I didn’t think about hating anyone, or Osama Bin Laden, or anything. I just focused on what instruction I had received, aimed, and pulled the trigger. Kind of like when I had a golf lesson, except with a more lethal phallic object. Okay, if you were at the golf lesson, that statement may be debatable.

More or less what I looked like.

By the way, never google “phallic.” It is quite disturbing.

I hit the target every time, twice in the chest, once in the head, and the rest in random spots. I was thrilled to have hit the target, with those shaking hands and jumpy nerves. But then it was weird, looking at the person-shaped target. Would I really have it in me to shoot someone, if it came down to it? And would he be wearing green?

I am preparing to go back to skeet shooting soon with the hubby and some friends. I think I like that better. It feels more sporting and less like killing someone. At least, now I know how to use a handgun if need be. My friend was glad to know how to use her gun, but the whole concept is pretty scary. As it should be.

Don’t know if my nerves can handle handgun shooting, but if anyone’s up for a Ladies’ Night, let me know. I’ll buy the drinks afterwards.

Take care of yourselves and each other,