I am 43 years old (shh! It’s a secret!), and I did something for the first time on Monday, something that I’d never done before and honestly I spent most of my life thinking I never would.
I was invited to join some friends for a day of target shooting. Now I’ve gone along with the Hubby and his friends when they went shooting before. The Hubby has owned rifles, while we were dating. But I never once was interested in giving shooting one of those things a try.
To be honest firearms made me more than a bit nervous. My parents were hippies and growing up I was raised to view firearms as something that should be unnecessary in our society. To be honest I was sort of scared of them, all that power resting in someone’s hand, the power to maim or kill. Firearms were lumped into the category of evil, warmongering, redneck, uncivilized and under enlightened troglodytes.
I was always worried that a gun in the wrong hands can be a very dangerous thing. And that leads me to my other fear, my fear of myself. What if I’m the wrong hands? I tend to be a bit on the space brained side of things, add in my innate clumsiness and it’s a recipe for catastrophic consequences. All it would take is one little mistake. One little lapse in judgement, one little mishap and I could be responsible for something horrifying, and that thought makes me shake with fear.
Lets be honest, a lot of my fear is irrational. I mean my friends have all taken firearms safety courses, it’s not like they’d let me do some bonehead move. It’s just if I’m totally honest, I have no confidence in myself. I always expect that I’ll do the worst thing in almost everything situation, it’s led to me living a life filled with anxiety and worries over almost every little thing I do. It’s ridiculous, and that’s why when my friends asked me to go with them target shooting on Monday I decided that I’d finally bite the bullet (pardon the expression) and give it a try.
I decided to pack up my chicken shit ways, to put on my big girl pants and for once give it a chance. Give myself a chance to see what I’m capable of.
So we all loaded up 2 vehicles and headed out-of-town for a nice day, even though the weather was misty and overcast as we left town, we were certain that the weather networks claims of no rain until around 5pm were sound. Even when we got to the field we would be shooting in, everything there was dry and while overcast, we kept our fingers crossed that the weather would hold out.
We put up the shelter and got everything set up, we realized that our hopes were not going to come through. Moments after the shelter was up, it happened, the skies opened up and a torrential downpour hit us, and it hit us hard. The winds picked up and we had to hold down the shelter or else the storm would have blown it away. It was an impressive storm, but it didn’t dampen the spirits of everyone there. “We came to shoot and dammit, we’re going to shoot!” We were laughing and joking around. I sat back and watched as everyone loaded up their magazines and inserted them into the rifles, I sat there trembling with nervousness as they took aim at the targets, the gongs and mannequins, and began to take their shots.
And then suddenly it was my turn, and my internal chicken shit jumped to the forefront and tried to convince me that I couldn’t do this. It’s too dangerous, these weapons are too powerful. What if you screw up and some body gets hurt. You’re way to clumsy and uncoordinated. The chicken shit inside of me then tried to use the most pathetic rationale to avoid this moment in my life, You’ll suck!
Of course I’ll suck. I’ve never even held onto an air rifle, let alone fire anything more powerful than a cap gun or water pistol.
I admit I tried to whine my way out of it, but luckily my husband and friends wouldn’t allow it and I found myself holding onto the rifle, staring down the sights at a department store dummy and slowly squeezing the trigger. Blam! First shot off and what a rush. The recoil wasn’t as bad as I’d thought it would be, while I didn’t come anywhere close to hitting one of those dummies, I found the experience to be awesome! I fired off the magazine, and then returned the gun to my friend. I then sat and watched as everyone else took their turns firing at the targets.
Next, another friend handed his rifle to me and again the chicken jumped up, flapping his wings and telling me that this rifle looked bigger and I wouldn’t be able to hold onto it, I wouldn’t be safe using it. Again, my lack of confidence was trying to bring me low. But once more my friends wouldn’t hear my whines of denial and I was again standing holding the rifle in my hands, this time looking down a sight that had a laser dot in it so I could see where the shot would go, which was much easier for me. This time I was shooting at a farther target, and while I never actually hit the target, I did hit the bale of hay behind it, or so my friend said, trying to pump up my ego a bit. If only my arms had been strong enough to actually hold the rifle and aim, but my weak assed, wobbly arms made it so hard to aim and I took longer than I should have and I’m sure everyone was getting fed up with how long I was taking to aim, but I fired again, and again. Until the magazine was empty and I felt almost giddy with how proud I was with myself for not listening to that chicken shit living inside my head.
Next came shot guns. I fired my friends 12 gauge with what I’m told is a tactical stock on it, which was pretty powerful, I don’t think I was prepared for that recoil on that mighty bad boy, but it was still fun.
Then my friend’s daughter handed me her 20 gauge shot-gun to fire, and that one I did not like. The stock was painful as the recoil shoved it into my shoulder. I think it was the form of the butt on the stock, it just wasn’t comfortable. I had some slight red marks that would turn to slight bruises the next day from her shot-gun.
I kept trying to decline my turn at shooting, since the frugal Scot in me was worried about how much money my friends were spending on ammunition for us to shoot. It was a horrible guilty feeling, knowing that they were spending so much money that day. The guilt kept making me try to wiggle out of shooting. Claiming that I’ll never hit a clay pigeon, of course I wouldn’t. I have no idea how to track a moving target. I’ve never done that before, and I’m sure nobody there thought I’d be able to do it. But it was an excuse. Why waste your clay target on my lack of skill, it’s just like throwing money away. But I never said that to my friends and so they kept pushing me forward, getting me to take another shot and then another shot. I’m so grateful at the opportunity that my friends gave me that day. I can’t even express what a rush to my confidence it was. I want to hug them, but I’m not a hugger so that’s just awkward and when I gush over someone and tell them how much they mean to me or how much they’ve helped me it feels false to me, and I worry that they think I’m just kissing their ass. So I tend to try to underplay things, which makes folks think I’m not grateful, but believe me, I am truly appreciative and grateful, if not for them I’d have never had the nerve to push myself to try this.
Then my friend decided that I needed to fire a slug from his 12 gauge shot-gun. I had no idea what this meant, but the look of glee on his face should have tipped me off that something was up. He loaded up his shot-gun for my daughter, and I watched as she pulled the trigger and the shot-gun’s recoil almost made her drop the firearm. “I’m not firing that!” the Chicken Shit squawked! Wings flapping frantically inside my brain. But my friend ignored it. Loaded another slug into his shot-gun and handed it to me.
I placed the butt of the stock against my shoulder and nervously I pulled the trigger. Blam!
The recoil of the blast made the shot-gun slip from my shoulder, perhaps because of my chest (as my friend claimed, laughing at me) or perhaps it could have been my sleek, slippery nylon shirt. Perhaps it was my weak arms weren’t able to hold the shot-gun in position on my shoulder. Or perhaps it was a combination of all of those, whatever the reason, the stock slid from my shoulder and into my upper arm. It made my arm go numb and then slowly it began to tingle. Within minutes it hurt, a lot and already a bruise was starting to form. I knew it was going to be a bad one, but I didn’t care. I’d had so much fun and I decided that my bruise was a reminder of the fun I had as well as a lesson that I need to learn the proper way to hold a shot gun and keep it in place so that wouldn’t happen again.
Yes, I’m thinking about a next time. I had that much fun. When I got home and watched the video I once again felt gratitude towards my friend because I’d had no clue that he’d put his hand on my back, bracing me so that when the recoil kicked back into me I didn’t fall down onto my ass.
Hubby wants me to go and get my own license so that I can get my own shot gun, one I’ll be happy with, one that will be more comfortable for me.
As he tells me that the nerves start and the chicken shit plays upon my lack of confidence, telling me that I shouldn’t bother, that I’ll just fail and I’ll be pathetic.
I just need to find a way to put aside that chicken shit part of my brain that tells me I can’t do stuff. It’s led me to live a life of fear and worry over every little thing I do. It needs to stop and this might just be a way to get that chicken to quiet down a bit.
All in all it was a fun day. I got to hang with my friends and family. I now have a tiny bit of understanding about what it is that they love to do. And I really had a lot of fun. My nerves are still there about the whole thing, but I know that all the fears and hang ups that I grew up with are unfounded and I will totally say yes to the next invitation to go shooting with my friends again.