Life

Target Practice: My Indoor Gun Range Experience

As stated in my previous post entitled Reminiscing and Revelations, I had decided that I needed to try new things. I need to step out of my shell, stop being so controlling, and be open to new experiences. So as promised from that previous post, I did indeed go shooting at an indoor gun range with my husband this past week. For some reason I had been completely opposed to partaking in this experience previously. Every time I even thought about shooting a firearm I became anxious and irritable. The more I thought about it the more anxious I became and the harder it was for me to finally agree to going to the range with my husband. Even though I had promised my husband that I would go with him, I still drug my feet and put it off for as long as possible. I even attempted to go back on my promise multiple times. I honestly can’t even put into words how awful I felt or the thoughts that would circle around in my head whenever I would envision myself at the shooting range. My feelings, attitude and anxiety were all completely irrational but at the same time uncontrollable. But I was able to eventually suck it up and coax myself into going.

I have gone shooting before, but have never been a fan of firearms. Growing up in Michigan I was always around guns. My dad would take us shooting in our backyard with his small pistols, bee bee guns, and pellet guns. I don’t think I ever really enjoyed that experience and was horrible at shooting down the old beer and coke cans that he had set up for us. My uncles love hunting deer and other animals for both sport and food. I can’t count the number of times I opened a barn or garage door to see a dead deer waiting to be butchered. I have also experienced shooting as an adult in my previous relationship and with friends. In all of those previous experiences I was never resistant or unwilling to participate in the activity. I honestly never had any negative thoughts towards firearms or shooting for sport until recently. I can’t even pinpoint the exact time that this shift happened nor did I know that I was this sensitive about firearms until now.

I didn’t used to get anxious or afraid when being around firearms, but after becoming a nurse, everything changed. Working in an Emergency Department and Level One Trauma Center you see the damage that guns leave behind. Now I know that guns don’t kill people, people kill people. No one has to give me that lecture, however accidental injuries and deaths do occur because of firearms everyday. It is not easy to view firearm injuries on a daily basis at work and then be okay with firing one or seeing a gun on my husbands hip. I think this is the main reason for my anxiety and new found attitude. For some reason or another my brain has been scarred by all of the trauma that I have seen over the last 3 years. I am the type of person who goes home after a long 12 hour shift and rethinks every little decision and thing that I did. I second guess everything and keep all of my experiences in my mind to replay for weeks on end. Because of all of this i am unable to separate my work experiences from my past experiences and have come to dislike firearms in any shape or form.

We pulled up to Point Blank in Greenwood, Indiana, and already I could feel my heart pounding in my chest. We got our needed equipment; ammo, ear phones, targets, and googles, then headed into the indoor shooting range. The first gun my husband pulled out was his Sccy CPX-2 pistol and my palms started to get sweaty. Charlie shot off a couple of rounds and then passed me the gun to try out. It took me a while to remember how to handle and hold the weapon and I had to have assistance from my husband to hold it the correct way. After much hesitation I shot off my first bullet and immediately felt panic and fear settle into my bones. The Sccy was easy to hold, lightweight, and pretty accurate, but I was not expecting the kickback that took place. I literally almost hit myself in the face with the pistol after firing it. I am pretty dang strong and was not expecting that much kickback from such a small gun. I began freaking out and really did not want to attempt to shoot again.

I literally began to have a panic attack inside the shooting lane and refused to shoot that gun again. My husband then got out his Taurus PT111 and tried to convince me to try to shoot with it. I held it in my hand but inside I was freaking out so much and felt so panicked that every time I told my mind to pull the trigger, my body would not follow. I was in the middle of a mental breakdown and had to force the tears from falling down my face. After telling my husband multiple times that I couldn’t do it and didn’t want to anymore he convinced me that I could and was able to calm me down enough so I that I could shoot. The Taurus was a heavier pistol than the last, was harder to shoot, but there was practically no kickback. I was able to shoot off more rounds with this gun but I was less accurate with it due to its size and weight. After shooting and reloading a couple more times I had to call it a night as my arms began to feel like jello from holding the weapon up and shooting it.

Overall I realized I’m not too bad of a shot. My first shot with the Sccy I almost hit the bullseye on my target. I’m sure if I were able to force myself to shoot more with it then I would have been able to hit more. The Taurus was harder for me to use and I was less accurate with it because of its weight. I felt my wrists pulling back when firing which pushed my shot down from where I had been firing. However, the first couple of shots with the Taurus I was able to almost hit a bullseye on my second target. The longer I used the Taurus though the less accurate my shot became.

This first photo is of my first shot with the Sccy:

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This second photo is of my first shot with the Taurus: (the second target with only the one bullet hole is my shot)

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While this new experience was not as horrible as I imagined it was going to be, I don’t think i am going to be going again. Shooting firearms is not my thing, and I don’t want to risk having that kind of anxiety reaction or panic attack again. I’m glad I was able to get over my fear and to participate with my husband this one time, but I don’t plan on ever going with him again. It’s not something that I enjoyed or will ever enjoy and I fulfilled my promise of participating the one time. I learned from this experience how much of a nurse I really am and how everything that I experience at work becomes a part of me. I also learned that i do not like firearms and although I’m not a half bad shot, I did not enjoy the experience. I hope that I can continue to push myself out of my box though by trying new things so that I am able to find out more about myself and overcome my fears.

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