Like most millennials cut from the nerdy cloth, I've spent my entire life playing shooting video games. It started with that snickering dog bastard I'd impotently fire at between rounds of duck hunt. Next I graduated to Samus and Mega man's robo-arm blasters. I still adore survival horror video games, nothing beats losing yourself in an atmospheric horror game like Resident Evil, Silent Hill and Parasite Eve, your pathetic pistol your only protection against the undead and the unknown. Over the years, my "high scores" tell me I've gotten pretty damn good at it. But I'd never shot a gun until July 4th weekend. The experience was different than I imagined it would be.
We're presented with headphones and goggles and I'm admonished for my cell phone use. (All photos are seritipitously and shakily taken- when a gun shop owner authoritatively demands you put the phone down, you listen!) My stream of consciousness as I enter the range: Those things are loud as hell, god damn! Like fire works exploding every time. Scary. Shells flying everywhere, stand back, holy shit. Do not want one those to burn me. What if someone turns around and shoots me with one of those things? Hope these are sane people.
This looks like a level from Parasite Eve 2. Ha, yep. I'm a nerd.
I didn't think of all the hundreds of times I'd effortlessly (digitally) shot down zombies in video games with perfect accuracy. I thought of all the training I've received since elementary school to avoid guns at all costs; don't touch, hot lava! I thought of the stories of suicide pacts go wrong, the teen left alive too traumatized by the gory, visceral reality of death to take the same grim resolution. I've read a lot of crime stories online and off, guns are fun in games but in reality they scare the hell out of me.
I'm given a chance to shoot a 22 and 38 pistol and instructed on the proper posture. You hold your left hand firmly underneath the gun and use the very tip of the pointer finger on to gently press down on the trigger. I do this excruciatingly slowly. Have you ever been freaked out by having someone menacingly rubbing a balloon near you because you don't know when you're going to be startled by the loud POP!? Or been on the edge of your seat when a horror flick goes silent, waiting for the villain to emerge? That's what firing this gun is like. Lisa (my friend AJ's mom) tells me it's normal to not know when it's going to off. I don't like this kind of surprise.
The first pistol I use has a lot of fire power, your extended arms involuntarily kick into the air after you pull the trigger and its makes me nervous that I'll drop the gun but I make myself keep aiming at my target until I'm out of bullets for a couple of rounds. Then I step away, exhausted by the anticipation between every loud, sharp shot.
The gun firing and light metallic click of the shell hitting the ground are very familiar sounds from video games and movies but feeling the power behind that blow and smelling the gunpowder is another experience entirely. The bullets tearing through the target cardboard and recoil from the blast suddenly become horrifying and visceral- the blast from the powerful pistol would tear through human flesh like a sharp chef's knife through jello. I start agree with countries that ban guns.
Gun and Gun accessories at the Gun Shop! I love the gun signs for the restrooms. Want.
I decide I hate firing the big guns, I hate unpredictability. I take long, trembling pauses between these shots because I hate feeling like the power gun could fly out of my hands despite my firm grip. Likely sensing my reticence AJ's dad switches me a small revolver, a lightweight iconic gun that looks like the ones you remember from old westerns. This guy is easy to hold, aim and fire with and I have a much better time with a predictable firearm, though I'm told in a break-in scenario my aggressor could be "simply mad and not down and out for the count" if I shot them with this less-powerful gun. But I don't know, a revolver shot is not akin to a mosquito bite. I'd be down and out after that kind of blast, personally. The revolver is a blast (see what I did there) to use and I get a lot of fatal shots easily with this one, with less recoil it's a lot more like using your Nintendo blaster and I feel safe again.
Overall, despite the fear of the big guns (which I probably shouldn't have started on anyway) I thoroughly enjoyed this experience and look forward to learning how to shoot every single gun possible. It's just a good life skill to have. And you never know when the zombies will come...