We drove to the range and parked. The place looked as it should; old building in need of paint although it had one last summer. Hand written signs about where not to park and that the proprietor had guns inside. Four cars were parked outside at on a Thursday. I guess you could call that busy.
The inside was very basic. You could say that it was decorated with a wallpaper of guns and gun related accessories. I especially remember the smell. A mix of cigarette smoke (banned nine months prior, but really, whose gonna tell a guy with a sidearm to put out his cigarette?) and what I found out later was gunpowder. It was a very distinct smell that started my heart racing.
Short started talking with one of the gentlemen behind the counter. (Most males behind counters are “guys” and “dudes”. The men behind this counter were gentlemen and sirs.) The two gentlemen looked like they were brothers; same stature, same glasses, same white beard, same white hair. The only difference was that one had less white hair than the other.
The second gun was pulled out in its case. The gentleman behind the counter had
“You’ll be in #8 down at the end”
“You got it.” Walk off boldly.
“#8! Go through the other door.”
“Yes, sir!” Skitter skitter skitter.
I don’t want to make this place out to be a hole in the wall, all though there were several thousand. This was definitely not a brushed stainless steel / marble with teak trim. The carpet was stained with copper and black residue. There were empty casings everywhere. The booth walls were marred and scored with dings. It is what it is. We set all our goods down on a bench next to #8.
There were two other guys shooting down in the #5 booth. They were finishing up and from the piles of shells around them, they had been there a while. As the one guy put away a gun, the other grabbed a broom and industrial dust pan and made a few compulsory sweeps along the floor, picking up about 20% of the casings surrounding their booth. Oh well, I clean the same way at home.
“It hurts my fingers, Captain.”
We inspected the gun.
I have never fired a hand gun. Now, I’ve played hundreds of video games with guns. I think I’m pretty good. This was no comparison. The gun felt foreign in my hand. The weight and the kick were body jarring. The sound was expected, but even muffled it shocked me. It seemed like there were 15 variables to align and meld to get the bullet to hit the target. As soon as you pulled the trigger, all 15 were scattered and you’d have to start over. Grip the gun. Not to tight. Hold it steady. Line up the sights. Relax. Not too much. Hold the gun straight. Keep it level. Bend your knees. Squeeze, don’t pull the trigger. Prepare for the recoil. Keep it aimed.
BAM. BAM. BAM.
My adrenaline was pumping. I was physically shaking. What a rush.
I squeezed the trigger again and I was out. It’s a very odd feeling when you squeeze and expect a shot. Kinda like when you are walking down stairs and are expecting one more, but hit solid floor instead. I swear I only fired four shots.
Eject the clip. Put the gun down. Shake. I’m such a pussy.
We brought the target forward. I hit all ten times. Five in the white, four in the black and one just barely in the red. The shots were all over the place.
As I swept up,
They leaned forward to look through the lexan barrier at booth #8. I didn’t see them look at me, but
“Well, I’ve got something for him when he comes out.”
I finished up. Finished up in an Augean stables impossible way. I could have been in there twelve hours. I mean shit, there were shell casings in the roof. I walked out and thought I was in trouble.
“What were you doing in there?”
“Um, sweeping up, sir?”
“You didn’t have to do that, son. Here, I like you.”
He handed me a gold token, good for ½ of shooting. “Thanks!”
Per usually, I had to say something wiseassish, “I’m not going to leave a mess in a place where everyone carries a gun.” The gentleman replied, “See, an armed society is a polite society.” We all laughed our manly laugh and left.