I had a chance to do something today that I've always wanted to do: Go to a shooting range. It was one of those things that I always knew I'd get around to eventually and, thanks to The Best Brother in the Whole Wide World, today was that day.
We went to Reed's, which I just learned when finding that link is the largest indoor range in the SF area. It was surprisingly low-key and, well...I guess the best word is normal; there was no "Soldier of Fortune" feel about it, which put me a lot more at ease, as did the guy behind the counter who looked more like someone I'd expect to be helping me at Micro Center than explaining how to load a revolver.
Anyone who knows me well might think that this was an odd thing for me to want to do because, as they have all seen, loud noises make me jump. A lot. And jump I did (especially since the only other guy on our side of the lanes when we started appeared to be firing a small cannon), but it was still fun. I ended up going back out to the counter to get a pair of earplugs to wear under my big, bulky ear cover thingies after the fourth jump and that helped.
I have a decent sense of aim, so it wasn't a terribly difficult thing to get the hang of doing. It was harder to remember all of the rules of the place -- rules that make sense and are absolutely necessary when dealing with items that could, you know, kill you or someone else -- but there were a lot of them. Judging by all the holes in the ceiling that were practically right overhead, a lot of people don't pay as much attention to those rules as I did! Once I had a grasp of the ettiquette, though, it was pretty much load, aim, fire and repeat. I gave the gun my brother had rented a whirl, which was a semi-automatic, but the recoil made my formerly broken shoulder ache a bit so I stuck with the .38 revolver they'd selected for me. It was fascinating to see the shells from his rounds go flying over his shoulder -- making me take a few more steps back behind the observation line -- and the flash from the barrels as they were fired by others, not to mention watching how people approached the whole process.
All in all, it was a very interesting experience and I'd definitely go back again. And probably on a Wednesday since that's "Lady's [sic] Night" and there's nothing I like more than a bargain, though I somehow doubt that I'll wear a dress when I go.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not running out tomorrow to join the NRA or get myself a gun or permit and I'm all in favor of the gun laws that are in place -- as a matter of fact I'm in favor of stronger ones. This was a very controlled environment that was about sport and (hopefully, eventually) skill, not violence or hunting or fear. If you want to know the truth, I looked at it like a slightly more expensive version of a bowling alley. You go, you rent the equipment and accoutrements, you rent a lane, you take aim and let it fly, you keep score (well, you can, I didn't), you laugh over your mistakes (like, I didn't really mean to put a hole in the ear of my target's silhouette), and when your time is up or you're tired you hand over your gear and your money, then you leave. Only there are no ugly shoes worn by hundreds of other people to give you the heebie-jeebies and no disco music.