Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Shoot for the Stars

"Life is Pain, Highness. Anyone who tells you differently is selling something..."

Adventures rarely come in glossy color brochures offering convenient packaging and efficient handlers. More often, they arrive in the form of a casual mention by a friend of a possibility. So when a friend of mine mentioned casually that a mutual acquaintance would be bringing his submachine guns to the range, I jumped at the opportunity and asked with unfeigned glee what might be done to be able to shoot them. Then I went off and checked with the esteemed gentleman himself, and proceeded to go buy the ammunition for the guns.

Despite internet horror stories, I can firmly say that my experiences with gun store employees have been uniformly positive, friendly, and helpful - and by en large, with the other customers there, too. Certainly there's a lot more warmth, relaxed attitudes, courtesy, and easy smiles even in the middle of a lunchtime rush than you'd ever expect from a store. Whether a large man in a duster and a long grey beard with a bag of brass in hand or a small lame woman in a black leather trenchcoat with a post-it note and a puzzled look, Great Northern Guns will take care of you with unfailing courtesy and humor.

Armed with 250 rounds of 9mm, earplugs, hearing protectors, (why are so many of my expressions of freedom loud?) and 800mg of ibuprofen freshly spiking in my bloodstream, I stood by the table as the guns were gently pulled out of their bags and shown to us, starting with a careful explanation that they are safe when the bolt is closed, not like my rifle.

A few years back I was in a bad car wreck, when the woman behind me didn't stop on the ice and slammed into my car as I sat at a red light. So the little muscle that runs from your neck down to your shoulder, used for things like holding your arm up, or a gun to your shoulder? Mine supports a max of five pounds for about five minutes before failure. The uzi is heavy. If only I had been able to hold it without muscles screaming in agony, it would have been a gun I could adore.

The mac-10 is light enough and fast enough on the rate of fire it has a kick like an eight-year-old throwing a temper tantrum. The Sten, though, is a fine old gun, simple and straightforward as the design of my plane, and roughly of the same vintage. Its rate of fire was slow enough I could place my shots well, and it was light enough I could hold and fire about eight bullets at a time between breaks as my muscles gave out and I had to control the breathing as my body hyperventilated with pain. I adore that gun, in all its simple, straightforward, plain and easily fabricated glory.

It was so worth everything - even sore today, I have no regrets at grabbing that chance and exploring it. If I'd waited another year or two until I might be strong enough it wouldn't hurt, the opportunity would be long gone. Never hesitate - take on life with everything you've got, and don't waste a moment.


  1. It kind of surprised me when I really started getting to know gun people - that on average they were amongst the sweetest, most down to earth folks I'd ever met. Bad apples in every barrel of course, but by and large awesome tribe.

    And darlin... Freedom is always loud in one way or 'nother. :)

  2. Freedom is loud - but so's a good radial engine.

    Good words here.

  3. It doesn't have to be loud: http://olegvolk.net/gallery/d/22094-7/sterling7297.jpg