Monday, June 21, 2010

Fear of Guns

The shoot-out.

Saturday I faced a fear.

I'm terrified of guns. Dee grew up with them, hunting pheasants and rabbits when he was just a kid. He took our sons duck hunting and target shooting even though my stomach would be tied in knots the whole time they were gone. "Boys need to learn how to shoot," he told me. (I've realized mothers and fathers are different, and that it's supposed to be that way.)

All our kids remember a major melt-down I had at the Holladay Gun Club twenty-five years ago. After an adventurous day in the mountains (the kids climbed rocks, built fires without matches, used ropes to cross the river on a log) Dee announced a surprise grand finale. Our Heroes (ages 14-3) cheered with anticipation as he drove up the hill to a shooting range. I practically threw up. Shots rang out as we pulled into the parking lot. I freaked out and refused to participate. As Marta and I sat in the car crying, my indignation and imagination ran wild—fear took over.

Oma takes aim at her fear.

As fears sometimes do, this one became irrational. Gun safety was a concept lost on me. I've assumed guns spontaneously go off and shoot people; that shooting ranges are filled with drunk militia weirdos in camouflage; that bullets fly randomly through the air in all directions constantly. Refusing to even consider a different scenario, I let it become a phobia.

Safety rules.

So now I'm ghost-writing a western novel. JJ, the star of the book, is a cracker-jack shot even though he's only twelve. This seemed preposterous to me. But Dee was like that, and my son-in-law Dan was, too. Even my own sons and grandsons have been familiar with guns by age twelve, in spite of my anxieties. In the old west most little boys learned to hunt and handle firearms when they were tall enough to hold a .22.

Colts, Winchesters, bullets and calibers—Dan has been my go-to guy, guiding me through the mysteries of 1870's hardware for the book. So he decided I needed a research trip. JJ can only be as knowledgeable as I am.

Dan planned our outing as my Father's Day gift to him. Because he's such a fabulous father of such a darling grandson, I couldn't say no. But I was scared silly.

Opa and Oma on the range.

Target shooting was so different than I'd imagined. No self-exploding bazookas, no crazies— everybody knew and followed the rules. Except me. I shot at another guy's target which is a major faux pas. (He was very nice about it, though.)

And there was an incident during the ceasefire. Every fifteen minutes there's an announcement and all shooting stops. Guns are unloaded and placed on the tables and everyone steps back behind a red line. Then, when it's totally safe, they announce that you can go check your targets. Shooters stay behind the red line until they announce the range is hot, and then you go back to your stations. Anyway, during the ceasefire, I forgot, crossed the line and started to load my gun. "MA'AM! STEP AWAY FROM YOUR WEAPON!"

My chaperones were very patient and assured the others they'd watch me closer.

Right on target.

A little experience shot my fear to smithereens.


Susy said...

Go get em' girly....

Susy said...

PS love your blog!

Christie said...

Way to go, Omes! We are always telling our kids to "face your fear." I'm proud of you for facing yours!

marta said...

mom, you're an inspiration!! i wondered how you'd feel afterwards and thought you were being such a good sport about the planned activity. dan said your success was all because of your great attitude and open mind. glad dan's awesome skills were put to good use. i think it should become a tradition!!

The Grandmother Here said...

I do not like guns. They are loud. People accidentally shoot each other or themselves. We lived near Washington, DC and heard about drive-by shootings on the news every morning. My children had only squirt guns and teeny tiny play-mobile guns. Then my son sold his soul to the US Army to get an education. Sigh.

Diane said...

You go girl!

I've never been that fond of guns myself, then married a man much like your Dee - guns, etc. from an early age. My son and husband have a bond and special times together with their guns and shooting. Ray even bought me a gun. It's a little .22 revolver - I call it my cowboy gun. I don't shoot it often, but it's mine.

I believe strongly that guns are a smart thing to learn about and learn to be safe with. Less accidents that way.

polly said...

i'm inspired, maybe i'll let jim take my out on the range. (can i borrow the hat? i love it)

Grandma Shelley said...

For me to face my fears it would be for me to be put in a room filled with spiders. Somehow I don't think I would ever muster good sportsmanship, the right attitude, or the open mind needed. So, great job!

mama jo said...

so glad you did that...never would have thought you had that fear..i love guns! i want a sawed-off when the bad guys come i can cock it and it will scare them away!!!

M. Halverson said...

Now you need to attend the Fort Bridger Rendezvous Labor day weekend and learn how to shoot a black powder Hawkin rifle. Now that's the real test of a crack shot..

crissy said...

Way to go, Oma! I'm not a fan of guns, either (I'm not afraid of them, just don't like 'em) but husband (and all of his brothers) are into buying guns, and going shooting. Blegh. I did go once, though, when I was about 7mo pregnant with #1. I only took one shot, and quit after that. But I'm glad I did. It's always good to try something new, even if it's something you don't like or are afraid of.