One of the good things about visiting my relatives in Florida is no one thinks twice when you say over a breakfast of bacon and grits, “Can we go to the gun range?”
My Vietnam Vet former Army Ranger Uncle was more than happy to oblige me. We headed out to what would become my initial foray into actually firing a firearm: the River City Gun Range in Palatka, Florida. It was a nice little homey place right off of…you guessed it or maybe not, the St. John’s River.
After filling out all the paperwork and showing of the IDs, I was asked if I’d ever shot a firearm. As I hadn’t actually wrapped my hands around a loaded gun and made it go “boom,” I was given a quick verbal primer on the types of firearms the shop had available for rental to shoot. If you are a newbie and a woman, some well-meaning gun shop employees want to steer you towards revolvers. On one hand I can understand this as a revolver is reliable and jamming isn’t an issue. However, as I am a techie and do not like the idea of having to reload nor do I have the patience to think about reloading bullets into all of the chambers in the cylinder, it was going to be semi-automatic all the way for me.
Besides, as another former Army person told me, “If you can fix a wardrobe malfunction, you can clear a jam in a semi-automatic.”
The firearm recommended to me for my first shooting lesson was a Walther P22. A .22 caliber firearm is small, handy and an all-around good gun to start with for the nimble hands of a lady. All of those physic and mechanical engineering classes I took told me this firearm wouldn’t have a lot of recoil so I could concentrate more on holding it properly and shooting for accuracy than worrying about getting knocked on my ass from the recoil. While it was very nice for getting used to shooting, I really couldn’t see this caliber working for me unless I was going to shoot some fat, useless squirrel or a poisonous snake in my backyard. My shooting accuracy was quite good for my first time and in the words of my former USMC instructor, “Like my ex-wife, you go straight for the head!” I’ve heard it is good practice to shoot for center mass. I’m still working on that but for some reason I prefer to shoot directly at the target’s “dome.”
At the conclusion of this amazing adventure, my instructor gave me two pieces of advice that have stuck with me to this day. He said, “When you get back home you need to learn two things about guns: How to stay safe and how to stay out of jail.”
And that is the crux of what you truly need to know. In other words, gun safety and the law.
I chose to start learning about gun safety upon returning home.
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