We signed some papers and forked over our drivers’ licenses. A nice man gave us instructions on how to open the barrels, then load and fire two kinds of pistols – a 22 and a 38.
We were seven Ladies-Of-A-Certain-Age (LOACA) -- near or beyond 70. We play pickleball together and we all like to learn new things, try new experiences. Shooting a gun was new for me and it has been on my Bucket List for at least a dozen years.
The LOACA have already visited Meadowbrook Hall and an escape room where everyone got locked in a small space and had to figure out how to break out (I missed that one). We went to a cider mill which turned out to be disappointing as the cider was not being milled, it was already for sale in bottles. We salvaged that beautiful autumn day however, by taking advantage of a lovely walking trail. The group has gone to a simulated golf course and an ax-throwing bar. We often get together to attend theatrical performances in a nearby town. We also did a couple of 5K walks, fundraisers for breast cancer.
We’re planning to try archery, feather bowling and go-carts. We thought about giving curling a try, but it seemed that all that bending and stooping and sweeping would challenge hips and knees and lower backs that have already seen seven decades of service.
The gun range was, at first, a scary testosterone-infused place. Animal trophy heads decorated the walls—bears and boars and deer and antelopes and such. All sorts of guns and ammunition were on display, arranged neatly and locked in glass cases. A poster showed a photo of Adolph Hitler doing the Nazi salute with this message: “Raise your hand if you’re for gun control.”
We were told to remove our hearing aids and dangly earrings. The nice man issued earmuffs and ear plugs and goggles.
We went into a room equipped with a half dozen cubicles, each with an alley and a moveable paper target. The target was an outline of a person!!!! Not a colorful circular archery-type target mind you, it was a person! The targets were people!!!!
I found this mildly disturbing.
The same affable, patient man showed us how to use a gun sight and how to aim. He helped each of us, one at a time, load our gun, point it at the target-person and shoot. I tried both the 22 and the 38.
After a couple dozen tries, my aim improved. I liked the 22 better than the 38. I don’t know why.
I kept thinking stuff like: “We’re playing around with real bullets here. What is preventing some psychopath from waltzing into this place and wiping out a half dozen innocent people who just stopped in for an hour of target practice?" Or, "What’s preventing some nut in another cubicle from turning around and aiming at some LOACAs who just wanted to see what it feels like to shoot a gun?”
I wondered who the shooters in the other cubicles were and why they were there, shooting real bullets at target-people.
A couple of young women in another cubicle were using a different kind of pistol. After each firing, the cartridge slammed back toward the shooter and spewed bullet casings all over the floor. Some teenage boys were practicing in a yet another cubicle. I think it was a school vacation day.
We were the only LOACA that morning.
Our kind and patient instructor said we were more thoughtful than most men. “Men come in here to shoot for the first time, like you ladies,” he said, “and they don’t listen. They think they know everything.
“And they aren’t nearly as accurate as you ladies were.”