When you think guns, you probably think small weapons capable of destructive powers. And in light of current world events you wouldn’t be alone.
That’s certainly what I thought too − until I recently held, and fired, one for myself.
It’s nothing like I imagined. Up until then my experience with guns had been limited to Hollywood films, video games and backyard Nerf Gun wars. The guns were light, responsive and accurate, and it was all just harmless fun.
Yet despite my vehement opposition to guns in society, the thought of using a real gun always peaked my interest. With a machine so capable of such power, what was it like to wield and fire it? There was only one way to find out. So after some research, and with the support of two like-minded friends, I found myself booking a session at the Auburn Shooting Academy (ASA).
I was quite excited on the day and filled with wonder and nervous energy.
Alycia and Paul, who work at the range, were kind enough to answer my barrage of questions and give me some insight into the world of guns and gun use. I asked them everything from how to get a gun (okay, I admit I was curious), what I could expect on a physical level when shooting a gun, and what types of guns I would be using.
They satisfied my curiosity and assured me I would be having a lot of fun at the range.
Before the action started Paul, the range officer in charge of our session, spoke to me and fellow shooting novices Matt and James about safety regulations, something on which the ASA prides itself. He gave us a lesson on what guns we’d be working with and a crash course on how to aim down the sights of the pistols.
First up was a .22 caliber pistol. When I first saw the bullets, I was a bit surprised at their small size, yet the pistol itself seemed formidable close up. Paul explained that the gun was primarily designed for 9mm bullets, but this particular model had been downsized for .22 bullet use.
So here I was, finally, holding a silver pistol, aiming it down-range, with a somewhat weird grip. A double thumb pistol grip, in fact, which, according to Paul, is supposed to maximise stability.
Paul helped me adjust my form and continued with various tips, such as finding my dominant eye and how to pull the trigger without affecting the aim of the gun, before this trigger-happy trainee could actually let loose.
To my surprise, the kick of the gun wasn’t so bad, and the banging was manageable (to be fair I was wearing ear protection). I fired my first 20 shots and I did quite well. They all stayed well within the red target in the middle so I was feeling pretty pleased with myself. Maybe this gig was easier than I thought after all.
The experience with my first gun had me feeling like a pro; that I would be able to handle the next two guns no problemo! Oh how terribly wrong I was.
The next gun was a 9mm caliber pistol, similar to the ones used by the NSW Police Force. The bullet itself was decently bigger but I didn’t think this was going to be a big deal.
I used the same techniques I used for the .22 pistol, took my first shot at the target and almost jumped at the sound and recoil of the gun. Despite this my bullet left its mark on the target. Yes!
It was significantly more powerful than the .22. I’ll tell you now, if you are some sort of Nerf Gun savant or a gamer with thousands of hours’ shooting games under your belt, it doesn’t hold a spark to a 9mm pistol.
From the first shot alone, I could feel my hands shaking and my next shots confirmed it. Some went off-target, but the majority of shots still hit the red spot in the middle.
Matt and James did way better than I did though, like me, their aim was a little worse compared to the .22 pistol.
The journey wasn’t over yet, the final gun on the rack was the .45 colt caliber revolver. You know, the ones that look like those in the wild west movies. Unlike the previous handguns, you could tell this gun was a whole new level.
The .357 colt’s sleek and imposing design was already intimidating enough. Holding it made it worse. Paul readjusted my grip, explaining that the double thumb grip doesn’t exactly work unless I want to be thumbless. So, here I hold a six-chamber mini-cannon in my hand, trying to brace myself for whatever gargantuan recoil that’s going to come.
So the trigger was pulled. Even when expected, it once again took me by surprise. The gun jerked up forcefully, accompanied by the sound of thunder. Before I knew it, the handgun was once again pointed at the target, albeit shaking, thanks to my hands. This time there was a smell accompanying the smoke from the tip of the barrel.
I admittedly was a little shaken, and Matt made the offhand comment, “Shit, I wouldn’t want to get shot with that, even with Kevlar”. Frankly I had to agree. Sure, you wouldn’t want to get shot by any gun, but the .357 colt is the one handgun that will put you in a world of pain.
After the shoot-out with those three guns, the adrenalin was wearing off enough for me to realise the amount of gunshot residue, in the form of burning lead flakes, on my forearms, and how the ground was littered with spent ammo cartridges. I couldn’t help chuckling to myself about how various TV shows and films romanticise gun fights.
When I looked at the result, I had to admit I thought I did a fairly decent job of staying on target, but trust me when I say this: no matter how much military/police dramas you watched, no matter how many play guns you have, no matter how many shooting video games you participate in, it will never prepare you for the real thing. And now that the experience is over I don’t feel the need to return. Shooting a gun has been ticked off my bucket list.
Still, if anyone ever needs a squad for a zombie apocalypse, Matt, James and I feel pretty confident that after our successful experience at the gun range, we can help you out! – Story and pictures by Roger Lee