Eleanor Roosevelt once said, "Do one thing that scares you each day." On Sunday, I did something which scared me. I went to a shooting range, held a gun for the first time, and fired it about a dozen times.
People talk about being desensitized to violence thanks to the news media and TV shows like 24. Yeah, right. I’ve seen a lot of shooting and gore second-hand but it didn’t prepare me for the shivers I felt when someone in the lane next to us took out some super duper gun ("Magnum" something) which shot out an an orange ball and made the whole building tremble. (It reminded me of wandering down the back alleys of Kunming, China, or any street in India — I thought I was prepared for the poverty, but I wasn’t.)
I went to the range with my friend Kai Chang, a gun enthusiast in the Bay Area who was visiting Colorado. Kai was exceedingly kind and generous in describing the mechanics of guns, the shooting subculture in America, safety procedures, and the like.
I aimed at a target about 15-20 feet away. The first time I fired the gun, my arm jerked back in a kind of unconscious shock. Didn’t take long to normalize the reaction. After all, it’s not a hard procedure — load the gun with ammo, pull back some lever, then pull the trigger.
The two employees of the range were stereotypical: both were wearing "USA" shirts and hats and one made a snide, proactive remark about gun control. An American flag hung in the back. Why is it that these kind of people are also excessively patriotic?
When all was said and done, I was happy to learn about how to hold, load, and shoot a gun (who knows when I’ll need that skill), but still miffed at how this "sport" is supposed to be a "recreation". Clearly, it is, and I totally respect someone’s right to pursue it.
Thanks very much Kai for bringing me along and introducing me to this fascinating sub-culture of America! And for a great dinner and six hours of conversation!