Just Shoot, B

Wed 30 November 2022

I've never liked guns that much, but I do remember having an enjoyable time shooting rifles and shotguns while I was at Boy Scouts camp. Despite not having any real desire to own a gun, I found myself applying for a weapons carry license on my 21st birthday really just because. The events of the ensuing decade help me understand my issues with guns are actually issues with gun people, and those issues were well-founded [1].

Now it's 2022, I'm renewing my license for the second time and I still don't have or particularly want a gun - mostly because I knew carrying a gun with zero training was an idiotic move but getting firearms training would expose me to an unsafe level of Dixie flags in one building. But I knew I needed some way to defend myself against law enforcement, and in a serendipitous moment of Googling I discovered a gun range in west Midtown [2]. I couldn't believe such a business existed in a bastion of rich white liberalism, so I decided to swing by the next time I was in the area. Three days later, it just so happened I was in the area so swing by I did.

The first thing that struck me on entering was how black it was [3]. As someone who doesn't frequent many gun ranges, finding one with a majority-black staff felt like viewing an opera with a majority-black cast. After grabbing my jaw off the floor I signed up for their new shooter package which includes everything I needed to get on the range except ammo.

My goal at this point was to simply get comfortable handling a firearm - I knew I wouldn't start off plinking targets at 50 yards, I just wanted to confirm that merely holding a gun wouldn't turn me into Second Amendment Man or make me look for a gunfight to join [4]. Since I didn't really know what I was doing I jumped around between guns and target distances, so my first target was a mess and I didn't take a picture of it. On my last gun of the session, I got a new target and calmed my nerves enough for good breath control and I think the results speak for themselves:

A target I shot with a CZ-75; 10 rounds are closely grouped around the 7 marker of the target, 10 rounds are closely grouped around the 8 of the target, one round hit the 9 of the target

I chalk most of this up to a heavier gun that soaked up more recoil, but I think this isn't too shabby for someone who hadn't held a gun in at least two decades. One of the staff members at the range complemented my target afterwards, so I must have been doing something right. I left with half a box of ammo left over and didn't want to keep it at home, so I decided I'd go back to finish it off.

Upon my return I kept jumping between guns to figure out what works the best for me; I don't think I did as well as a few days prior but I think I still did OK:

A set of targets shot with varying guns, left side for warming up and right side for trying; from the top were Glock 19, Canik of unknown model, S&W Shield EZ

A set of targets shot with the S&W M&P9 M2.0, left side for warming up and right side for trying

I'm still not a huge fan of guns but at least I met my goal by feeling confident in handling a firearm without having a nervous breakdown or turning into an action movie hero. That said, I think I need to become a much better shot before I consider owning one; I might take the range up on their 2-for-1 training offer.

[1]I won't accept any kind of argument about how smaller gun organizations were outraged about what happened to Philando Castile; if the largest and most influential advocacy group for a subculture doesn't care the opinion of a bunch of 1000-person groups don't matter
[2]You might think it's stupid to carry a gun to defend against cops since they'd just shoot me if I ever pulled it on them; my counterpoint is they'd just shoot me anyway and lie about it later to avoid consequences, it's worked in the past
[3]I later found out this was the home base of the National African American Gun Association's Atlanta chapter
[4]Given what happened a few days later, that's for the best