Playing with Guns in Redneck Land

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My friend Jo Ann and her husband Robbie volunteered to take me on my first shooting lesson today. She texted me this morning and asked if we could meet at noon at the Bass Pro in Denham Springs. “Sure!” I replied. I was fine until I started to get dressed. Could I wear my dangly earrings that go with my SheBeads necklace my sister gave me for Christmas? Or, would I have to wear those ear protection things that might smash my earrings? Should I wear jeans? Am I going to look like a dork in my regular clothes? OMG … what a fashion crisis! I’m ALWAYS the one who knows how to dress for any situation, but this one had me stumped. My friends on FB assured me that I could wear anything but a low-cut loose top because apparently the shrapnel will fall down your blouse and burn your boobs. Hell, I would have never thought about that!!! Thank heavens I asked them. I don’t want to torch my girls!

I decided I should stop at Starbucks beforehand. I’m pretty grumpy before I have my coffee, and I can’t imagine that me on a caffeine withdrawal would be a good mix with a gun. Safety first, you know. I drove up to Redneck Land and started to get a little nervous. Why am I even interested in this? What if I’m a nervous wreck? What if its really crowded, and I look like a moron? Robbie and Jo Ann were shopping when I got there, and we walked over to the pistol range. We walked through a department – an entire department – of camouflage clothing. Then, we walked through an aisle with nothing but bullets. I was definitely in a foreign country. They even brought a bag of guns with them. I gave the range ranger my license, and Robbie treated me to my first range fee. They gave me the ear protection and confirmed that my glasses would be fine for eye protection. However, I was informed that the Starbucks cup could not join me in the range. So, it’s safe to have guns in there but not coffee. I decided that I need to just shut-up and follow instructions.

The sign said, “No Rapid Fire.” Okay …. I’ll try to refrain. Robbie brought some man-shaped targets, and I said that the good thing about this sport is that if I can’t catch a man, I can learn to take him down. There might be some benefits that I hadn’t considered. We walked into the range which was a narrow, very long room. The target was on a pulley of some sort, and you could put it as far away as you wanted it. Robbie set it up for 7 yards, and he explained how I was supposed to hold the gun and what was going to happen when I pulled the trigger. Jo Ann gave me a lesson on breathing and getting relaxed before I pulled the trigger. I never thought my yoga practice would come in handy here, but it did. In between rounds, I had to stretch my shoulders and loosen up. I got more relaxed as time went on, but I was pretty tense at first.

It’s been awhile since I’ve started something new with all new terminology. I knew the seriousness of learning to use a weapon in the right way, so I canned my silliness for awhile while they explained the two most important things. The first is to always keep the weapon facing away from me, and the second is to always assume it is loaded. It wasn’t as easy as it sounds. I’m not used to handling such serious things, so it made me nervous. I have big issues with aiming. I’ve heard my personality type described as Ready… Fire … Aim. I had to learn to aim first which took a degree of self-control. They taught me how to look through the sight and match it to the target. I asked if I needed to close my eye, and we went through an exercise to determine which eye was dominant. If I lined up the sight on the target with both eyes open, it was blurry to me but dead center. If I closed my left eye, the sight moved to the left of the target a little. If I closed my right eye, it moved a LOT. In fact, it almost moved off the target. They decided I was right eye dominant – whatever that means – and gave me some instructions on working with it.

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I shot Jo Ann’s pistol first, and I at least hit the target. I was aiming at the X in the center. Robbie finally got it through my head that I was trying too hard to hit a certain spot, and I needed to just shoot naturally. Once I did that, I was able to relax a little more, and I figured out how to adjust my aim a little. We took a break, and, while we were outside, the man in the lane next to us took off his shirt. Jo Ann said she’d never seen that before. His Mother came out and she had clipped her thumb when the gun recoiled, and she was bleeding pretty bad. Robbie had just explained to me to watch out for that, so that was a perfect illustration of what could happen. That ended their shooting for the day.

I shot with Robbie’s pistol a little, too. I liked it a little better. It was shorter and fit my hand better. He made me load the magazine, rack it and turn the safety off myself so I could get used to doing it. The more I relaxed and just shot, the better I got. At least I think I got better. I don’t know what the goal was except to hit the target. Jo Ann assured me that I did great for my first time. “You hit the target every time …. in the black at that. You didn’t shoot Robbie in the foot. You didn’t mutilate your thumb like that poor lady did next to us. And you looked cute in your jeans and cowgirl boots. lol,” she posted on Facebook. I’ll take your word for it, Jo Ann. I just know I liked it, and I’m glad I didn’t torch my boobs. I called my Uncle Bump on the way back to the Harrison’s to set up a shooting date with him next Saturday. He wanted to know what I wanted to shoot. “I don’t know. Surprise me,” I told him. We had gumbo and homemade rice pudding to celebrate my virgin run at the shooting range.

The cool thing about this whole shooting idea is it appears that it will provide a new social outlet for me, too. I’m really excited about this women’s gun club in Baton Rouge. I have several friends who have offered to take me out shooting. And, there are at least 3 other women that are interested in learning as well. I love learning new stuff with other people. If you read this blog, you probably think I’m very outgoing, but if you ever see me in person, you will notice that I’m pretty shy. I prefer to have an activity to concentrate on or to let others have the limelight. My confidence in my abilities is less than you might think. I put myself out here in writing but I can hide behind the computer. I’m a little different in real life. So, this is giving me a way to make some new connections. Plus, people love to teach others, so I get to make them feel good to boot.

When we walked out of Bass Pro, there were some people arriving with bows. I asked if they had a range for archery, too. Robbie thought they did. It was starting to make sense why these Redneck Land stores are so big. They are not just for buying stuff. They also have places to play and practice skills. Patrons had their dogs inside, and there was a big fireplace and a fake swamp. I need to go back and see what they offer in the line of camouflage clothing for gals. Robbie warned me that camouflage might be a little over the top. He said people aren’t overly worried if I’m packing a firearm, but they get a little nervous if I’m dressed in camo. I took my last target home as a souvenir. Jo Ann told me to hang it on my front door.

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It was a fun way to spend a Sunday afternoon. We finished it off with practicing another new skill, hula-hooping. My friend Jean Ann gave me one so that we could practice after she gets out of the hospital. I wonder if you can shoot while hula-hooping? I’m guessing that might take a pretty advanced skill level on both parts, so I’ll table that one for awhile. But, don’t be surprised if you see Ashok dressed in camo in the near future. Do they make little doggie holsters? If they do, I’ll bet I’ll find them at Bass Pro. That store has everything! And, I guess I’d better set up a budget for bullets. Life sure is different down here in the Land of the White Pickup Trucks.

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