Monday, April 27, 2015

Guest Post: Corruption of the Innocent (aka "Erin Teaches a Californian to Shoot")

Sometimes, how you are introduced to a thing makes all the difference.

Hi, I'm Ian. I've shot guns twice before in my life, both at very touristy ranges in Las Vegas and Los Angeles. It was loud. It was expensive. I want to say that it was fun, but that uneasy feeling of being in danger and being a danger to others nullified it.

And then came my shooting sherpa: Erin Palette.

Let's not mince words: I'm a Canadian living in California. I'm up to my ears in liberals. I might even be one. I think guns are cool the same way I look at hot actresses and wonder what it'd be like to date one.

Erin's one of my few pro-gun friends and has always been playful about corrupting me over to the Dark Side. Um, I mean, introduce me to shooting... properly.

Erin scored big points right away. Before we got started, I was given a reading assignment: Jeff Cooper's Rules of Firearm Safety.

I couldn't stress how much this made a difference for me. I studied these rules. I memorized them. I rattled them off to Erin when we finally met, and you know what? I was no gun safety expert, but I sure as hell felt like I'd at least not shoot someone's face off out of pure ignorance.

We met at the Robert Strickland Shooting Range on May 22, 2014. The weather was great and at midday, there weren't that many people there.

She starts me off easy with a Gatorade. It was starting to get pretty hot and she doesn't want me passing out. I usually don't even think about stuff like this, but that Gatorade never tasted better.

After throwing up some reactive targets, I get my first hands-on lesson, starting with a Ruger Bearcat. It's a .22LR single action revolver. As far as I know, that means you have to cock the hammer between shots, the bullets are small, and you load them into a cylinder. The gun feels a little small, but it's easy to shoot and I'm rewarded right away with some nice little holes!

Did I say bullets? I meant cartridges. Looks like I'm going to be learning terminology all day.

We move up to a Kel-Tec PMR-30, a .22 Magnum semi-automatic pistol. Biggest difference here, of course, is moving from the cylinder to a magazine. Okay, got that. .22 Magnum means it's like the .22LR, right? Wrong. Very different. I don't quite remember exactly what was different, but I know enough that you don't want to be mixing them up.

I'm not a small guy. (Editor's note: He's at least 6 feet tall.) These two have been pretty good. We move on.

Next is the Smith & Wesson Bodyguard, a .380 semi-automatic pistol. I don't like it. I lie a little and say it's okay, but I really don't like the way it jumps in my hand. Erin tells me it's because it's a tiny pistol and we are now using a larger round than before, so I'm going to have to soak up a lot more energy with my body, since the gun won't do it for me. Fortunately, we don't linger on the Bodyguard for long.
Check it out! The Glock 26. It's a 9mm semi-automatic pistol. It's also really tiny. I guess Black Widow has small hands. It's a shame we don't have two of them, but I have a feeling the range masters wouldn't have allowed us to dual-wield.

I make do with the one and the first problem is immediately clear. My mitt is way too big for this gun and my pinky keeps curling underneath the bottom of the grip. I end up having to shoot it pinky out like I'm some bourgeois shooter having tea. The gun's fun to shoot, though, and Erin's got this ring sight on it that makes it really easy to just bring up and shoot.

Lastly, I try the Ruger LCR. Having been a fan of the City Hunter anime growing up, I thought a .357 Magnum revolver would be awesome. It's no Colt Python, but how different could it be?
Simply, it's very different from a Glock 26. The hand angle, the power of the cartridge, my inexperience... it's interesting to shoot, and maybe in time I might get used to revolvers, but I finish off the cylinder and stop.

I had a really great time, and I definitely don't feel like I'd be an accidental liability anymore if you put me on the range with guns. I learned how to operate them deliberately, not haphazardly.

Of all of them, the Glock was the most fun to shoot. It was also the one that gave me the best results on target. With some coaching from Erin and even a few words from the normally-surly range master, I had, in Erin's words,  an "excellent showing". I got nearly all of my shots inside the 9 ring!

I definitely liked the way the 9mm felt the best, though I think I'm going to need to find something bigger. The Glock 26 felt tiny in my hand. Question is... what else should I try? Another Glock? [But they're fugly!] Maybe a Beretta, or Mulder's gun, the Sig Sauer P226?

I guess what I'm trying to say is, let's call this:

Day 0: The Frenzy Begins

Editor's Note:  Ian has since gone on to purchase several handguns and participate in shooting matches. He has recently bought a shotgun and is contemplating his first rifle purchase. 

I've created a monster, and I couldn't be happier or prouder. 

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