Gun Range

On Thursday, Shorty and I went to a local shooting range. The day before, Shorty not only suggested we should go, he looked up pricing on the internet and he even called to make sure we could get in. Thursday comes around and he’s left his guns at home. He was not committed into going. I was committed. I suckered him into my car with Sirius radio and the West coast replay of Howard Stern. We drove to his place and got the guns. He left the ammo in the apartment and tossed the guns in the trunk. I was automatically assuming that we would get pulled over and I’d have to blurt out that there were guns in the trunk and then the inevitable cop with his foot on the back of your neck as you are eating asphalt. Oddly enough, on the way to the range, we passed by four of Columbus’ finest.

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 12:30pm on a Thursday. I guess you could call that busy. Shorty grabbed his guns and we walked inside. I let him go first.

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. Shorty wanted an expert to check out a revolver he inherited from his grandfather. He pulled out the lump of metal and unwrapped the red cloth around it. It had a black handle and black everything else. It also had a gun lock on it. The less white hair gentleman said, “Get that thing off of there.”

Shorty had left the trigger lock key at home. He said sir a few times and sorry a few more. He was able to ask him a question and the gentleman was able to open the cylinder and answer it. He did comment that the gun was very nice and in very good condition. Shorty beamed.

The second gun was pulled out in its case. The gentleman behind the counter had Shorty open the box so he could take a look at it. It looked like a BB gun I had as a kid. The gentleman nodded and we were handed eye protection and ear protection. Shorty purchased 100 rounds and a few targets.

“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.

Shorty opened the 9mm gun case and pulled out two empty clips. He showed me how to load the clips with 10 bullets. The clips hadn’t been used much, so it was tough getting the last four bullets in. I couldn’t see doing that in the middle of a gun fight.

“It hurts my fingers, Captain.”

Shorty attached the target and sent it flying forward out 25’.

We inspected the gun. Shorty showed me how to load the clip. Keep it pointed forward. Keep your finger off the trigger. Keep it pointed forward. Release the metal thingy. CLICK. Aim. Pull the trigger. Pull the trigger. Go ahead.


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.


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. Shorty tried to be congratulatory. “Well, you at least zoned in on the center.” I didn’t have any idea which shot hit where and when. But hey, one in the middle. Mostly.

Well, to sum up, I’m hooked. We ended up buying 50 more rounds, firing off a total of 75 apiece. My aiming seemed to get worse as I gained confidence. Still, it was exciting, fun and over time I felt more comfortable with holding the gun. I’m hooked.

Shorty packed up the guns and threw way the empty bullet boxes as well as most of the used targets. We kept two. (I hung one on the wall at work. That kind of freaks co-workers out.) As he was putting away the guns, I grabbed the broom and industrial sized dustpan and started cleaning up some of the shell casings on the ground. When you shoot off a 9mm gun, the empty casings go flying in a most random fashion. I’d love to isolate the ting of them bouncing off the walls and floor, but you can’t hear it though the ear ringing BAM of the gun. I swept and discarded and swept.

As I swept up, Shorty went back up front to pay for our ½ hour. The gentleman with more white hair looked at our equipment sign out sheet and said, “Well, I see one set of ear protection, but you signed out for two. Unless you’ve got a second head, we might have a problem.” Shorty replied quickly , “Oh, my friend still has his. He’s cleaning up.”

“He’s what?”

They leaned forward to look through the lexan barrier at booth #8. I didn’t see them look at me, but Shorty said the gentleman was slightly amused if not amazed watching me sweep up.

“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.

We plan on going back next week. This time with the trigger lock key.


Anonymous said...

Juan.... you rock!!!!

Anonymous said...

Juan, Hell I like you can you come to mu house and nail my sister.

Anonymous said...

check out my flickr page. I think you'll be proud. Or scared. Either way, I'm happy. :)