Celebratory Excursion to the Firing Range

February 23, 2011

Last summer, when I reached my goal of losing 100 pounds, I set a new goal – to lose 50 more.  My reward to myself for losing 100 pounds was a trip to Six Flags Magic Mountain, which I took in September.  Right around then, I also decided on a reward for losing 50 more – a trip to the gun range.  I’ve fired a gun once before in my life – a rifle, back when I was in college, and for a long time, I’ve really wanted to shoot a pistol.  I have no interest in owning a gun, because having one in my house frightens me, but shooting one in a controlled, safe environment… well, sign me up!

In December, I reached my goal and had lost 50 more pounds – Woo-hoo!  Time to go shooting!  Except that, for a while, life kinda got in the way.  I reached my goal a few days into a 3-week trip out of town, and then I ended up traveling for part of January, so now it’s February, but my friends Mat and Maggie (who also have been hankering for fire a firearm) and I finally found a day to head down to shoot some guns.  So, on Presidents’ Day, we took full advantage of the second amendment, and headed down to LAX Firing Range:

It’s a few blocks from the airport, so it’s appropriately named.

We took their Beginner Firearms Training Course, which is a two-hour class that introduces you to a gun.  You can check it out on their website – which says that firing guns is good for people who “seek stress reduction (enjoy euphoric rushes of energy combined with inner peacefulness — much like yoga)” - I kinda love that.

Danny was our instructor.  Danny has been around guns quite literally his whole life – he told me he started learning about them when he was three.  I don’t know how many guns he has now, but he casually mentioned at least 3 during our class.  At any rate, Danny knew what he was talking about, and was a great teacher.  The first half of the course was in a classroom, where Danny passed out unloaded Glocks and taught us how a gun works, and what all the parts are – I had no idea a gun had so many parts!  We went over gun safety, too, and then we got on our feet and Danny walked us through how to hold a gun, how to use the sights correctly, the proper stance, so you maintain the most control over your weapon, and how to actually pull the trigger, which makes all the difference in the world if you actually want to hit a target.

The second half of the class was actually in the firing range, which looked like every firing range I’ve seen in movies and TV:

There were about 14 lanes total, and the floor was littered with shell casings.  We had to put on noise-canceling headphones before entering, and good thing, because it was loud.

One by one, Danny brought us up to our lane, and we practiced shooting the pistol, with Danny reminding us of ways to improve our stance, position our body, and hold the gun.  I felt prepared to fire the gun, and the act of pulling the trigger turned out to be way more measured and controlled than I thought it would be.

That’s Mat on the left, Maggie in the center, and yours truly on the right, with Danny overseeing all of us.

We each had 3 turns firing the pistol, and we each emptied the gun’s magazine each time, for a total of 30 bullets.  Our target had the silhouette of a man on it, and for the first 2 turns, I fired at his chest, but then, to switch things up, on my third turn, I fired at his head.

Here’s Mat and Maggie with their targets afterwards:

I’m not one to regularly toot my own horn (although this self-centered blog may suggest otherwise), but it turns out that I’m kinda good at hitting targets!  After firing my first ten shots, and landing them all in the orange zone on the target (which was closest to the center), Maggie said, “OK, David, when the zombie apocalypse happens, you’re definitely coming with us!”

Here’s me and my target after the class was over:

And here’s a closer look:

I’m proud of that big hole right in the center.  That’s where I hit the same spot repeatedly with 6 or 7 bullets, and it’s only a few millimeters from the black dot Danny wanted us to hit!

And, yes, up in the corner are 20 extra bullets.  A box of 50 9-millimeter bullets came as part of the class, and since we only used 30 in the class, we all got some bullets to take home.  It’s a smart incentive to encourage people to come back to the range – I definitely want to go back, because what else am I going to do with them?  Fling them at intruders?

There’s a wide variety of targets you can shoot at, and I already know which target I want to shoot at next time – it’s Target #11:

That girl’s got it comin’!

Keep it up, David!


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