My head is ringing! It’s like a giant liberty bell lolled back and forth in my skull, clashing against the walls all afternoon, confidently clashing into the walls. The marks it left need to be translated like cave art; they read “greatness” and “confidence.”

BOOM! my eyes open wide then tear up a little. BOOM! my ears recoil and my eardrums feel paper thin. BOOM! while I’m smiling I actually feel the tear creep out, not from emotion but from pure force. BOOM! my nostrils widen, inhaling that beautiful gunpowder scent. BOOM! I see a little flame sneak out of the barrel. BOOM! something hits me in the head: an empty clip. Laughing, I touch a real, loaded gun for the first time in my life.

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litter? or profit?

“That guy will be having a closed-casket funeral,” my friend/gun mentor tells me. He is referring to the target of a man’s silhouette hanging ten yards away. His entire gut is a gaping hole. I can see trees through him. I have a paper target dirtbag of my own to pump a few rounds through.

I like the Chester Rod & Gun Club in Chester, New Hampshire. We drove past the main building down a dirt road into a huge gaping quarry. The place was abandoned. Piles of sand towering around the borders, out-towered by black spruce trees, with a light sprinkle fading to a cool, gray, misty spring afternoon. There were electrolytes in the air — I could feel them. The teensiest bit of nerves were running through me, but I wasn’t too bothered.

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guns 🙂

My friend/gun mentor, Steve, knows what he’s talking about. When he talks about guns, sometimes I wonder if he just memorized the text books. We work together. At work he is a certified trainer. He recently got a degree in computer programming. I think I can trust his information (nods and winks).

I’ve wanted to get into guns forever (and ever, and ever), but I’m a total dweeb in this department. I could read something online and start crying. Even the simplest guns 101 sites use tech terms that I don’t understand. .22 is a size of a bullet. A handgun is not a rifle. I figured that out. Most boys who learn guns are taught by their dads. I’m 27 and no one in my family shoots, hunts, or even packs heat. (My grandfather has a sedentary gun collection and my uncle is an ex-cop — my mom reminded me today, haha. I have some good Thanksgiving convo-fodder!)’

When Steve put the Ruger SR22 pistol in my hands, I wasn’t sure what to do. He showed me how to press the button, pull back the springy part, let go of the button so it sticks in open position, pop in the loaded magazine, release the springy part back into place, un-do the safety, then aim.

The gun barrel needs to be aligned straight with your arm. Your thumb on your non-shooting hand needs to be out of the way. You close your non-aiming eye and look into the two little dots on the two-dot aimer; at the barrel of the gun is a center-dot. That’s the target. Aim for the dirtbag paper target’s heart. The first shot will be a little tough, but after that it’s easy squeezy. Don’t pull the trigger — squeeze. “Easy pull-y” doesn’t rhyme. Steve ran me through the routine, the Guns 101 course in about ten minutes before I was allowed to shoot. He’s a good teacher and I’m a smart student. Finally I was ready to shoot my first bullet.

Holding a gun felt foreign. Imagine holding a squid. Or a lilypad. Or Gwen Stefani. When you’re a kid and you play cowboys and indians, you bang with your thumb. Bang, bang! Guns don’t bang, they BOOM! And you pull with your index finger. SQUEEZE! Don’t PULL! Ahh, I’m still learning.

It was this lug of a thing. A deadly thing. I had to ask Steve to repeat some of his information. Pushing the button in (“up and in”) was awkward. My thumb hasn’t been in that position before. I found myself using my other hand often to discharge the magazine and to turn off the safety (though the SR22 has a safety on both sides, a neat feature).

I’m a lefty, but I bat righty. I also shoot righty, I just know this instinctually. So I stood with my left foot a little bit in front of my right. I aimed at the dirtbag shady silhouette. I got my stupid left thumb out of the way. Barrel and arm straight, right eye closed, yadda yadda. I’m holding this wonderful, deadly spitter of metal! I’m freaking out! I’m so happy and excited and nervous and knowing this is a moment to remember. Is my life about to change forever? “I think I got this,” I say. “This is cool.” I pull. BOOM!

AHH!

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“dirtbag!”

I was aiming at the dirtbag’s heart, and at this point I’m not entirely sure if I hit the paper at all. It was awesome! I kept shooting. Over the course of nine rounds, I hit the target a few times, including a shot in the heart. 1/10 ain’t bad for a rookie. My first-ever target got 50 rounds shot at it. I hit it it 29/50 times. I aimed at the heart every single time. I hit the same spot in the heart twice. Yeah, I like this gun thing.

“Oh, shit,” is probably what Steve said right after, when he realized I wasn’t wearing eyewear. I had earplugs on (club rule!), but I wasn’t wearing protective eyewear (club rule!). He wears glasses, so he’s golden. Me? I can’t hear anyone, but I got laser vision. He handed me his wife’s eyewear from his gun bag. Rad! Pink…. Her earmuffs were pink too, but I passed for the minimal earplugs. I don’t mind. I figured that some big, muscular beer-bellied dude named Chet with a Nascar hat on would come kick my ass, but no such fortune for pink-glasses Rich.

Steve reminded the empty range that the range was “cold” as he opened the gate to go get our targets (it is a rule to tell everyone to lay their weapons down for a moment. I like this rules-based private property place!). When we got out there, he pointed to a hole on the target that I’ve nicknamed “The Haircut.” That was my first shot. The two holes in the white to its side were my other first shots from those first few fires. I was giddy. Absolutely giddy! I hit the target on my first shot! I nicked this dirtbag! Yea!

You might be thinking, sure it’s your first time, but a gun — especially a wimpy gun — can’t be that hard to fire from ten yards. Recoil is tricky. You stand leaning into the gun. You breathe out right before shooting. You push with your non-shooting hand; you pull with your shooting-hand. Your mind has to be discliplined to control your body 100 percent.

After a few magazines, I told Steve, “Shooting is actually sort of comforting.” He laughed, but I felt I had to elaborate. “Sure, the deep breath helps, but to focus on something so hard, and to have a goal in mind is refreshing.” BOOM! BOOM! A moment of silence and a sniff of gunpowder. “Ha, ha. I meant that in the most non-murderer way, just so you know.” Shooting is fun, but no one wants to shoot at another human (well, get a presciption drug from a doctor and I might want to stop sending my future kids to public schools).

I was hitting the target reasonably for a first-timer! Pumped! We took turns with the .22 to warm up. This lil’ firecracker was fun to shoot! I googled some reviews online, now that I can speak gun-ese. One site nailed it: “The SR22 looks more like a conventional carry pistol than a space gun. This dusky beauty is sleek, balanced and sexy in a diminutive way. Think Eva Longoria and you’re in the ballpark.” Lordy, this is the gun I want, right?

I explained to him the concept that Jon Rappoport is fond of: imaginative creativity. Imagine yourself doing something. Close your eyes in the living room and do the function you want to master. IMAGINE IT. Steve agreed and told me about some sort of blank-like non-ammo you can load into your gun to practice in your apartment. This is amazing and beautiful and I can’t wait to own a gun just to do this. But if I can’t, at least I can pretend I am holding a gun (“pizza gun!”) and can get that arm straight. Knockin’ paper dirtbags and hangin’ it on my fridge like a sixth grader.

Then Steve put a 9mm in my hands.

A .22 goes BANG!, if a 9mm goes BOOM! My auditory description of guns changed pretty damn quick. At the end of it all, my left ear was ragged (think paper ear drum). I saw a flame come out of his 9mm. Later in the day, he shot his 9 and I shot the .22 at the same time. The .22 was a go-kart ride in a theme park, compared to that 9. Putter, putter.

We set up new targets (still dirtbags). The perpetual trainer, Steve told me outright: “When I introduce someone to the 9mm, I only put one bullet in the magazine.” Why? It can freak people out. They’re not used to the recoil. They might drop the gun. If that gun decides to shoot off, your [private parts] might go away. Dood-speak, etc. Steve’s wife can shoot a 9mm, but she still is a little timid. That one bullet thing is cool with me. Steve tells me that even after a few shots, he still thinks his newbies should only have one or two rounds in their magazine.

He tells me to line up, keep my arm straight and prove I can handle the bigger gun. He’ll tap my shoulder when I’m ready. Some correction and he taps.There is one bullet in the mag and I pierce the dirtbag’s shoulder. Rad. The next round? He shrugs. “You get it,” is basically what he says. The recoil was rough, and I missed alot, but when I struck, I struck hard. My accuracy was closer. At one point, I may have hit his target…

So far, my .22 was spread out but remotely accurate. My 9mm was less accurate, but when I hit, I hit the general target. I’m excited to become a crazy gun guy. I texted my friend. “Git off mah lawn — you in the future.” My mom told me in a phone calll, “I don’t like the idea of you having a gun.”

If you break into my house, I will shoot you. Otherwise, we’re cool. 🙂

NON-AGGRESSION PRINCIPLE. THAT’S IT. How is that so hard. Break into my house, I point my gun at you. You tidily exit the premises, non-paper dirtbag.

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oh, let’s get fun

Steve and I walked over to the steel targets range. This is the most fun section of the range for a rookie. There are six steel circles connected to some pulley system. You shoot, they go PING! (after the BOOM! of course) and then you pull a line and they reset). I spent most of this missing, ding-less, with the 9mm, but our second to last round, I owned that street. I took out five of the six targets in fifteen shots, the misses splashing sand in the hill behind the range.

BOOM! PING! BOOM! PING!

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even more fun

Steve had a great idea: “I have five rounds left. There are six targets. You have nine rounds left. Let’s have a competition.” He not only had just five shots, but was giving me that sixth target as a freebie. The handicap is tempting, right? No prize, cos I’m a rookie, ha ha.

Steve, in his element, took out five targets.

I, after knocking out five in a prelimary round, missed my first target 9 times.

text to friend: I LOVE GUNS.