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Ready, Aim, Boom

I’m wrapping up my time in Montana.

Now I love to hike. I love to be out in nature. But since I can’t really walk up hills right now, that wasn’t really an option. So my buddy Dylan, trying to think of things that were A) Outside and B) Didn’t require much walking, came up with an ingenious answer:

Let’s shoot some guns!

I’ve been alive for almost 41 years. Never in my life had I fired a gun. Never in my life had a held a gun. But stay in Montana for a few days and your life starts to change.

At about 1pm yesterday, Dylan, two of his friends and I we heading to the forest. Where no one can you scream.

After about 15 minutes down a dirt road we came to a clearing. Apparently this was a popular place to shoot because the remains of past sessions were out in the field. Gourds with holes in them. Half of a watermelon. There were targets nailed to trees. If I was going to fire a gun for the first time, this seemed like as good a place as any.

The guys we were with were amazing. Nice. Laid back. Total gun pros

in the best possible way. The popped up a table and a tent. They pulled out charcoal and a grille. They laid their ammo out on the table and asked me what I knew about guns.

“Literally nothing.”

A truer statement had never been said.

They seemed to be excited about my lack of knowledge. They proceeded to walk me through very detailed safety instructions. They broke down the science behind what was going to happen. The showed me the proper stances and explained the different kickbacks for the different guns.

I was so appreciative of their extreme caution. Just the sight of the guns was enough to make me uneasy. Combine that with the sounds of other people shooting in clearings around us and anything less than their steady hands would have made me think I was in the middle of a war zone.

After about an hour of loading cartridges and explaining things and getting the grille going, it was time to shoot.

They handed me a double barrel shotgun. I put my ear plugs in, walked to the line, loaded the barrel, closed it shut, put it to my shoulder, put my hand on the trigger, and quickly proceeded to put it down because I got super nervous.

They laughed and said it was ok. So I back into my stance, put it up to my shoulder again. All I had to do was pull the trigger. Just bend my index finger back. That’s all that was required of my for a bullet to come firing out of this thing.

So that’s what I did.

I pulled my finger back. The force of the shot pushed my shoulder back. The noise of the explosion echoed around the valley. Just like that, I had fired my first gun.

I wish I had some neat observation, a little nugget to give to you about my experience in the forest. It was a fun time. It doesn’t feel right saying that knowing the damage these things cause on a far too regular basis. In the middle of the woods in the middle of Montana, guided by patient, smart people with lots of experience, there doesn’t seem to be anything wrong with firing off semi-automatic weapons. But is it ok, knowing that’s not always the case?

I don’t know either way.

My favorite gun turned out to be the weakest. I don’t remember the name of it, but the guy who owned it said it wouldn’t even be able to take down a deer. It was mainly for target shooting. I got behind it, looked through the scope at some empty bullet casings they had put on a board for targets. I got the casing in my cross hairs, pulled back the trigger, and watched as the thing flew off into the distance. Everyone cheered for me. Then I closed my left eye again, stared back through the scope, and proceeded to knock off three in a row.

I stood up, brushed the dirt off my knees, and proceeded to eat a hot dog off the grille. The next person stood up to the line and took aim at another target. While I might not have a nugget of wisdom, I was glad for the experience.

Who knows. I might even do it again.

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