But I did it anyway.
On Saturday, I finally did something I’ve wanted to do for a few years.
Bear bought me a pistol a few years ago. I applied for, and got, my concealed carry license. I live in the woods. He worked nights. I felt like I wanted to be able to protect myself, just in case.
I have always had a healthy respect for guns. My father had a shotgun – or a rifle? I think there may be a difference, but it escapes me. I didn’t really want to own one, but I kinda did because when you’re a woman, and alone in the woods, and the nearest house is too far away to hear you scream, you kinda want to feel like you can protect yourself.
So Bear bought me this pistol. It’s a cute little thing, for a gun. It’s a Smith and Wesson Bodyguard. I’ve shot it once. Because, for the life of me, I cannot pull that slide thingie back to make the bullet go where it’s supposed to go in the barrel and so it’s pretty much useless – I suppose I could bonk someone on the head with it but that’s about it.
It sat, sad and lonely and unused.
And then riots started and thugs were threatening to come into the rural areas. Fear is a powerful weapon. What some fail to realize is that it’s also a powerful motivator.
I signed up for an intro to firearms class, took my not so trusty pistol and a box of bullets and off I went to learn something about this powerful little thing that fits in my hand.
It was three hours. The teacher was great – and as a teacher, I’m a pretty tough judge of my colleagues. There were 5 students, a young man of about 30, and a family – mom, dad and son, and then me. I was the little old lady in the back. I told the teacher that I have trouble with this slide – he laughed and said, “you and pretty much every woman.” He tried really hard to help me with it, but finally we gave up and he let me use a different pistol that was much easier to work.
He spent an hour talking about safety. I think a lot of that was aimed at the young boy, but it was very informative and it really brought home to me how very dangerous this thing can be, and how much responsibility it is to own one. He also gave us some history and told stories and was really very nice and very informative.
The last thing he showed us was how to load the magazine thingie. (Thingie is a technical term that means, “I can’t remember the technical term.”) We did NOT place that in the guns. He asked how everyone felt, as we were preparing to go to the range, and put all the stuff he’d taught us into practice. How to hold your hands, how to aim, how to stand, how to hold your arms, so much to remember! Everyone replied that they felt great. He said, “how about you? How do you feel?” to me. I said, “TERRIFIED!’ It got a chuckle from everyone, but I guess they realized I really was very nervous about this.
So off we went to the range. It was then that we put the magazine thingie in the gun and it was actually loaded. He took me in first, which was a very good thing – had I had more time to think about it, I think I would have been in the car and headed for home before anyone knew I was gone. He was so patient. We all had ear protection, and eye protection, and a target in front of us – just like you see on TV! He shot first. I jumped like there was a rocket in my butt, but I didn’t run. He shot one more time, then had me get in position, fixed my grip, waited patiently.
I took a deep breath. Then another. Closed my eyes, said a brief “dear God don’t let me pass out!” and pulled that trigger. I actually hit the target! And scared the bejesus out of myself in the process!
And then I took another deep breath and steadied myself and did it again. And again. Until my wrist started aching and I had to stop.
We all went back to the classroom for the final wrap up. My four classmates wrapped me up in “you did great! You really did it! You were so scared and you did it!’ I felt wrapped up in kindness from total strangers, who had seen my fear, gave me gentle encouragement, and shared my feeling that I had conquered that fear, at least a little bit. The teacher gave everyone praise, and then said, “and YOU, you were terrified, and you did it anyway, and you should be so proud. You did good. No, you did great.”
I did it and I’m glad I did it. I will never be completely comfortable with a gun. But I’ve learned a lot in that one class – I learned it’s something I can handle and something I can use if I ever have to, but that I need a LOT more practice. I’ll never lose respect for the power of that weapon, and I’ll never cease to be amazed that anyone can have anything BUT respect for it.
It’s not so much about protection for me. It’s about conquering a fear. I don’t like being afraid – of anything. Fear is a powerful weapon. It’s also a powerful motivator.