One place I never thought I would find myself:
Yesterday afternoon, my beloved and I spent several hours at a shooting range. Shooting guns. At people-shaped targets. Ummmm ... did I mention the guns?!?!
For quite some time now, my husband has been mentioning his desire to purchase firearms to use in self defense. The thought frightens me to my very core.
First of all, I tend to be a jumpy person (ask the kids -- they never tire of leaping out at me, watching my inevitable shriek-filled response). I would not trust myself to handle a weapon safely in an emergency situation.
Second, I have zero familiarity with guns. I have never been around guns. Ever. None of my close family members even hunt (and, come to think of it, many are vegetarians). I spent my formative teen years and the majority of adult years in a Washington, DC, suburb where guns = gangs and urban violence. I would venture to confess that I have developed a phobia about guns ... spurred primarily by the sheer magnitude of my ignorance.
So yesterday, as part of my plan to conquer my fears, my husband and I enrolled in a private 3-hour gun safety / shooting course with a certified instructor. I have always been concerned that, should I encounter a gun, I wouldn't even know how to tell if it was loaded. The instructor provided extensive information about loading and unloading weapons and gun safety. He also ever-so-patiently answered my multitude of questions without even one giggle.
From the time we arrived at the range (half an hour before the lesson), I was a jumpy basketcase. With each shot outside (which, honestly, weren't many considering it was late on a Tuesday morning), I shuddered or gasped or dropped something. We went back to the car for a bit so I could settle down. The irony of this scene is not lost on me:
Imagine my complete and utter surprise when, after touching a gun for the first time, I did this:
Is that a perfect bulls-eye?! Why yes, yes it is! Go ahead ... zoom in and see for yourself!
By the end of my first round, my target looked like this:
As I became more comfortable with the gun, I found myself experiencing flickers of enjoyment. But then, I would glance around at everyone else and realize that we were all holding deadly weapons. With just one minute error, a life could be taken. When I mentioned that I was uncomfortable shooting at the human-shaped target (preferring instead a simple red-and-white circle), my husband gently reminded me that we were getting trained so that we could protect ourselves ... from people.
As I reflect on the day, I remain quite unsettled. As much as I loved the actual shooting (and as much as I have gloated about my awesomeness!), I am deeply haunted by the thought that I could harm or kill another human being. Without a moment's hesitation, I know that I would do anything necessary to protect my family. However ... I am having a hard time reconciling that intense desire to defend with the inevitable reality that I might have to kill.
My husband and I plan to take another class in the next couple of months, and he would like to begin looking into a weapon to purchase. Meanwhile, I think I'm going to need some time to let things percolate while I wait for some sort of resolution.