Tuesday, August 30, 2011
By Susan Esther Barnes
Every 3 or 4 months or so, we hold a “Fun Day” at work. We go to a baseball game, or play miniature golf, or do something else together just for fun. It struck me as an odd activity for an office full of liberal democratic types, but this week for Fun Day we went to a shooting range.
This activity reminded me of an essay I had to write in college. The assignments was to start an essay with the words, “Every college student should have to” and then finish the sentence and explain why we should all have to do whatever we chose for the conclusion of the sentence. I chose, “Every college student should have to learn how to handle and fire a rifle.”
I suspect part of my reason for choosing this subject was my desire to stand out. I wanted to pick something different than what I suspected everyone else would choose. I wanted to be unique; I wanted to be daring.
(As an aside, my professor read a few of the essays in class for discussion, without saying who wrote them, and he chose mine as one of them. I found it telling that, throughout the entire discussion, the class always referred to the author as “he,” never once considering that it may have been written by a woman.)
Part of the reason I chose that topic, though, was I believed in it. I still do. A lot of people are scared of firearms, and wouldn’t know how to handle one safely if they came across one unexpectedly. At an early age I was aware of basic gun safety rules: How to properly hold a gun, to always point it at the ground or in the air when not aiming at a target, to keep my finger off the trigger until I was ready to shoot, etc.
All of these skills, and a general comfort around guns, could come in very handy if one were to come across a firearm unexpectedly, as I did once. In fact, this kind of knowledge could save a life.
And what of the experience at the shooting range? The photo at the top of this post was my target. The grouping isn’t as tight as I would have liked, but with over 30 years having passed since the last time I shot a firearm, and with this being only the second time I had ever held a pistol, I was pleased that everything was within the black portion of the bullseye.
I was a bit disconcerted when my shooting partner kept saying, “He’s dead.” When I was shooting, I wasn’t contemplating shooting a living creature, and I certainly was not thinking about killing anything or anyone. In fact, although other people used targets in the shape of a person, I avoided those on purpose. This was target practice, nothing more.
At any rate, it’s good to know I have some firearm skills, even though I hope I’ll never have to use them. I’d rather be knowledgeable and safe than ignorant and sorry.