I have no experience with guns. Although my father had a handgun while I was growing up — Baltimore is less safe than D.C. — he hid it from us and never talked about it. I only know that he had it because as a kid, I found a revolver under the driver’s car seat. He told me never to touch it, and that was the end of the discussion.
In contrast, my editor’s father taught the rules of gun safety and took him to a shooting range at 10 years old. So my editor offered to teach me the basic safety rules and skills and then shoot his guns at the range. Since he can’t legally bring his guns to our office in Washington, I went to his house in Virginia for the lesson. It’s remarkable how different the gun laws are once you step over the Potomac River.
My editor gave me a 22 caliber Browning Buckmark to start. I wasn’t thrilled because it didn’t look as cool as the other guns, but he insisted I learn with it. He put up the target and handed me a full magazine to load into the gun. He reminded me to keep my finger off the trigger until I was ready to shoot. I asked a female NRA aide who was about my size for help on the grip. She showed me how she held it — left hand holding right hand.
When I felt ready, I held the gun up to the target, closed my left eye to line up the sights then slowly and nervously, pulled back on the trigger. POP! “I did it!” I yelled excitedly, turning around slightly.
“Don’t turn around,” my editor said. “Keep shooting until the magazine is empty.” Pop. Pop. I pulled the trigger repeatedly, trying to carefully line up the gun after the kickback each time. After 10 rounds, I’d hit about half in the red. I was thrilled.
“Now try to group them, get the shots as close together to each other as you can,” my editor said. I shot another 10 bullets and had improved already. This was easier than I expected.
Odds are, you’ll learn something valuable.