The first rule of Gun Club

Don’t wear a shirt with a low collar.
Spent casings will hone in on that opportunity like you wouldn’t believe.

Last night was my first experience with work-sponsored Gun Club. (It’s officially called “Shooting Club,” but “Gun Club” sounds better. Not as good as “Bullet Club,” mind you, but I’m keeping it classy here.)

I parked in the range’s underground parking lot and immediately heard muffled THUMPS, WHUMPS, BANGS and POPS. When I entered the lobby, I couldn’t believe how loud it was, even though the range was on the other side of probably a foot of concrete. A row of men stood shooting all kind of guns: pistols, rifles, and other guns I couldn’t identify. As I stood staring, another gun erupted with a tremendous WHOOMP! and I thought, “Jesus! Can they shoot cannons in here?!?” A guy standing next to me remarked, “Whoo! That’s like a dollar a shot right there.” I nodded like I knew what he was talking about and made my way into the classroom.

Our meeting included five men (including the instructor, a dead ringer for Dave Foley) and six women. All of the men brought their own guns, while I was only one of two people who had never shot before.

We sat through a mandated safety class, learning the parts of the gun we’d be shooting (9mm), how to grip it, basic shooting stances, breathing tips, how to determine our dominant eye, and range safety tips. The instructor passed around his unloaded pistol and made each of us release the clip, replace it and rack the slide (it took more force than I anticipated). Then we went and watched the range-mandated safety video, which featured an extra straight out of Jersey Shore performing dozens of bone-headed moves like propping his loaded gun against the wall, leaving his gun unattended, not wearing proper hearing and eye protection, not keeping the barrel of the loaded gun pointing down range at all times, and shooting at handmade targets.

Finally it was time to put on our earmuffs and glasses and choose a gun. I had no clue what to choose, so I went with the range guy’s recommendation of a Glock 19. Another girl standing next to me looked as clueless as I felt, so I asked her to be my range partner. (I was originally supposed to partner with one of the guys, but I didn’t want to feel intimidated as he blasted the target while I fumbled just trying to load the bullets.)

Our club leader is some kind of crack sharpshooter, and he stayed with us the entire time, thank God. I didn’t even know how to load the bullets. Then, my first shot resulted in the casing pinging me directly in my face, which scared the hell out of me. “That’s rare,” said the instructor, which did nothing to help my anxiety. Then, the next bullet jammed. “Ooh, that’s also rare. I’ll show you how to fix it,” he said. Then the bullet after that also jammed. “Yeah…you’ve got a defective gun,” he assured me, as I convinced myself I was too stupid to shoot. Finally, I had a gun that worked. I loaded 10 bullets, clapped in the clip (and felt like a bad-ass cop in a TV show), racked the slide, took my stance, took a deep breath and pulled the trigger.

I hit the target, much to my relief. In fact, my aim wasn’t bad. I was surprised at the amount of pressure needed to actually pull the trigger, though. Because of that, I tended to anticipate the recoil, and shot a bit high. Which was funny, because my range partner tended to shoot low, so between the two of us, we decimated our target. I got the target mostly in the upper chest and neck, including one in the eye and finally, one directly in the heart. Take that, criminal paper target dude!

We were shooting pretty close (15 feet), so the instructor grabbed a much smaller target and moved it out to 20 feet. Then he told us to fire five shots slowly and then five in a row without hesitating: bam-bam-bam-bam-bam. I was still shooting high, but dead-center, so I ended up actually aiming below the target completely. And that’s when I got three bullseyes. The instructor said, “Great job!” but I want to learn how to shoot and aim so I hit what I’m aiming at, and not have to compensate, you know? Anyway, a few others were shooting a .22 and the recoil was much less than the 9mm, so I’m going to try that next time.

All in all, it was a blast (no pun intended). My right ear is still ringing a little bit today, which I contribute to the fact that I lifted my earmuff for a brief second to rearrange some hair that was in my face. Rule #2: Don’t do that.

Next time, Jason is coming with me, and I’m so excited for him to learn how to shoot, too. (I’m also excited to try shooting at the zombie targets, which don’t have bullseyes, which is why I skipped them this time.) It was kind of a surreal experience, because everything felt so much heavier — and real — than I’d imagined, and as I looked down at the casings littering the floor I thought, “I can’t believe I’m doing this. And enjoying it.”

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Bullets for all!

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This is taped outside my cube. “Oh, you have a last-minute project? Are you sure about that?”

8 thoughts on “The first rule of Gun Club

  1. I… a DEFECTIVE gun? I mean, I know it was just about bullets jamming or whatever, but oh god, if there’s one thing you do NOT want to be defective, it’s a GUN.

    Still, looks like fun!

  2. i went shooting once (on a DATE, actually!!) and while it was fun & interesting, it also kind of terrified me. i was SO AWARE of how i could kill someone the WHOLE TIME. freaked me out.