My husband is teaching me how to shoot. As in, how to fire a handgun safely and accurately. This may seem like a strange thing for me to blog about (it doesn't quite fall under any of my usual categories) but I actually think there is an explanation for why I feel compelled to write about this.
I realized a few months ago while watching an episode of Army Wives (this is an embarrassing detail) that I was really afraid of guns. I realized that if I ever came into contact with one and needed to use it to defend myself, I wouldn't know what to do. I'm sure I would have just frozen up, and that's what makes guns dangerous--guns aren't dangerous on their own, they're only dangerous when used improperly or abusively.
So I asked my soldier husband if he would teach me how to use a gun. We decided to start out using an air gun and a target in our backyard. He taught me the basic safety rules, how to load and unload the weapon, how to breathe, aim, and how to squeeze the trigger. After those first few lessons I began to feel more comfortable handling the gun and more confident in my knowledge of how to use it safely.
Then this weekend he graduated me up a level. We went to a local indoor range and rented a real handgun. And I'm telling you, I was scared all over again. I really didn't like it at first. First of all, guns are incredibly loud, and the man in the booth next to us was using a particularly loud weapon. I jumped every single time he fired, even with the earmuffs we were wearing. At one point, one of his shell casings (the brass piece that holds the bullet and ejects after you fire) nicked me in the arm and I had a split second of panic. I know this sounds ridiculous, but I had never been around live fire before and it was a little bit terrifying!
When it was my turn to load the weapon and shoot I felt quite nervous. I knew in my mind what to do (my husband is a very good teacher) but shooting a real gun for the first time made me feel pretty tense. We practiced shooting at close range as well as firing several rounds one after the other. My biggest problem was that I had a hard time relaxing and I noticed that when I didn't over-think, my accuracy was so much better. My husband kept telling me to be sure of myself, that I'm in control of the weapon, that I know what to do.
And you know what? By the end of our hour, while I wasn't exactly enjoying it, I began to feel a million times more secure and calm. Knowledge (and practice) really is power. We plan to visit the range a few more times and eventually, buy a handgun to keep in our home for protection. I know that with a few more lessons I will feel even more comfortable and confident that I could defend myself and my family if I had to.
And I think that's why I wanted to write about this today. Of course I pray that I never have to use a gun, ever. But if I needed to, I would know how, and that's a powerful thing. Women are naturally fierce protectors of the people they love. Instead of harboring a fear for guns, as I did before, I'm beginning to see them as a tool that can offer me and my family safety and protection.
Women, what do you think? Are you afraid of guns, or do you know how to use them? Would you ever want to learn? Do you agree that not knowing how to use them is an uncomfortable feeling?