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Monday, July 30, 2007


Joel invited folks to a "Fun Shoot" where you're encouraged to bring new folks and everyone lets you try out their guns. It was hosted by the local NRA chapter. I figured that since I'd never even handled a gun, I should probably learn to do so just in case of zombie attack (or something else equally unlikely).

Sunday we headed up to the San Leandro range and after a brief safety lesson, I headed out to the outdoor range to try out a .22 rifle. Rick thought that would be a good starting point.

I tried:
- a .22 caliber rifle
- a .22 caliber target pistol
- a .22 caliber pistol from France
- a .45 caliber rifle with a scope (too loud!!!)
- a .45 caliber pistol (too loud!!! Eeek!!!)
- a revolver loaded with .38 special
- the same revolver with one 357 magnum (egad! Too loud! Holy crap scary!)
- Tox's 9mm pistol
- Tox's .45 caliber pistol (still too loud!)

Guns are scary objects. I still don't really get the thrill of shooting. The consequences of things messing up are just too high. And holy crap they are just too freaking loud, even with ear protection. But, it turns out that once I learned how, I can aim pretty accurately. I now know how to load several types of guns. I know how to unload several types of guns. And were a situation to arise where I had to wield one, I'd feel a lot more comfortable now than I would've before yesterday. I just don't ever expect that situation to arise, and for my life to continue as it does, I have to continue to believe that.

The range was almost entirely populated with older, white, potbellied men and sometimes their wives. Near the end of the afternoon, a couple of young, urban looking black guys came in and were shooting something along the lines of a .45 (judging by the sound). I suspect that they live in a very different world from me, one where knowing how to handle a gun is much more of a necessity. It's always fascinating to me how we all live in the bay area, but worlds apart.


  • I think for me the appeal basically breaks down into two categories. First (in no particular order) is the physical and mental state necessary for accurate shooting. Whether a shot hits or misses turns on the tiniest of factors - the rhythm of your breathing, the tilt of your body, the placement of your hands, the amount of tension in very small muscles, things like that. Most of the things that determine the success of a shot are internal (particularly at a shooting range, where the environment is relatively calm and extrinsic factors are minimized, but even under fire the majority of factors have to do with the shooter and not with the target or with the medium through which the bullet will travel). So good shooting is an external expression of self awareness and self control.

    Of course, there are lots of things that are similar to shooting in the way I have just described it (though all the ones I can think of involve projecting an object through the air out of contact with the ground as one of their main activities). Shooting, basketball, and the shot all sound fairly similar on the above terms. What gives shooting its unique thrill to me is something along the lines of the medieval connection between the concepts of chivalry and prowess. Handling a firearm is I think necessarily a martial activity. And because it is martial, it is inextricably bound up in my mind with concepts such as generosity, charity, courtesy, and doing the right thing utterly undaunted by extrinsic impediments and resolutely overcoming intrinsic impediments. All these things are martial and/or chivalric concepts, and because shooting is also martial in my mind, it is necessarily linked with them. Shooting, strange as it may seem, causes me to dwell upon being generous, charitable, and doing the right thing no matter what. Shooting seems to me a particularly fitting ritual enactment of this conceptual ballet given its fundamental focus on mastering the self.

    By Blogger Natalie, at 8:14 PM  

  • Keep it up if you are interested. I keep hearing women make better shooters than men.

    I used to enjoy shooting more, but just shooting at stationary paper targets doesn't cut it any more.

    It's more fun to bring objects to shoot like melons or old phone books, etc.

    I know they have leagues that shoot metal targets and plates. I might investigate those when I get more free time.

    By Blogger Kevin, at 8:49 AM  

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