At home on the range

A friend and her husband invited me out to go shooting at a local range.  My friend–I’ll call her Calamity Jane–is a blog reader, and she sees our gun politics as very different.  With the exception of concealed carry permits, I don’t think they’re all that different–I don’t want to take away anyone’s guns unless they’re clearly mentally disturbed.  But her family owns guns, and mine doesn’t and probably never will.  Since this is Colorado–a place where Marxist feminist college professors as well as right-wingers enjoy their guns–I figured that after ten years here, it was about time for me to go shoot up a canyon.  Until last Tuesday afternoon, I had never even touched let alone fired a gun in my life.

Historiann & Calamity Jane

Jane and husband very generously supplied the firearms, ammunition, and (most importantly) the gun safety lessons.  Jane and I shot .22 rifles and a variety of pistols ranging in age from World War I to a .38 of very recent vintage.  (That was my favorite.  Jane insisted that I take home the souvenir target from my handling of the .38.  I’m considering hanging it up in my university office, but I wonder if that might be perceived as unduly intimidating to students.)

Maybe a tank top wasn’t the smartest thing to wear to target practice–I caught some hot brass right at the base of my throat in the notch of my collar bone, and have a burn there still. 

Calamity Jane & Historiann


Overall, I really enjoyed my afternoon on the shooting range.  I certainly understand better the sportsperson’s interest in marksmanship, and Jane and her husband taught me a lot about gun safety and gun handling.  In the end, though, I don’t think I’ll be a gun owner myself.  I feel very strongly that I don’t want guns in my household, whereas Jane and her husband see gun ownership as an important means of ensuring the safety and security of their domicile.  Intellectually I can see the merits of each viewpoint, but there’s only one that feels right to me.

21 thoughts on “At home on the range

  1. Those of us who shot at real people to kill them, typically, don’t see gun use as sport. It’s fine if one in fifty is shooting at the range. Larger numbers indicate a problem.


  2. I’ve often wondered why so many people who own guns (not all, I’m sure, but a noisy bunch of them) are so resistant to legislation that would check the backgrounds of people wishing to buy them, to waiting periods that would prevent people from buying them on violent impulse, and to restrictions on the private ownership of nasty things like armor-piercing bullets that don’t seem necessary to reasonable people like your friend. Have the two of you ever talked about this? I’d be interested to hear her take on it.

    For the record, I’ve shot a rifle, but I was *very* young, about 6 or 7 years old, and a friend’s father took us out to shoot at cans somewhere. Don’t remember much about it, except that he told us in no uncertain terms not to brace the gun butt against our shoulder.


  3. I too am a Western transplant and understand the gun culture much better after 10 years out here. However, there are very real public health statistics that validate your position and make a lie of the view that guns in the home keep people safe. They do not.


  4. I got “skeet-shooting” “merit” “badge” back there in “scouting,” and it was definitely quite fun to clip those little clay thingies with a .410 shotgun and see the puff of white “smoke” that announced your success. But I’d still repeal the Second Amendment in the blink of an eye. Too much carnage for my taste, and limited faith in human virtue.


  5. In my limited observation, children who live in homes where parents keep guns as a means of “ensuring the safety and security of their domicile” have far more negative views of their fellow human beings than children who do not. I know a child, for example, who says ze “does not feel safe” sleeping in a home where there are no guns.


  6. Safely shooting guns is seriously fun! My favorite is shooting clay pigeons, although I haven’t done so in years.

    Your stance with the rifle isn’t quite right, as you are leaning back too much. You should be standing with your shoulders and back in a “neutral” position. Your friend’s rifle stance is better.


  7. I grew up in the rural South and was taught to shoot both a handgun and a shotgun as a kid. I only did target shooting, though–no hunting. But I did enjoy it, and I was pretty good at it. There is something really fun about hitting that target, and I took great pride in the fact that I was a better shot than my brother! However, I also knew two kids who were killed by guns that were supposedly “locked up” in their houses. So no guns in my house, thanks.


  8. Don’t know about the gun, but the outfit kills, cowgirl. Smokin’.

    No guns in Roxie’s World. Moose shot a couple of clay pigeons back in Indiana many decades ago. Goose has female relatives who carry guns in their purses and have been known to use them. We figure if we had firearms in the house someone would have to stay sober at all times, and then how would we prepare for classes?


  9. I have to ditto truffula. in my experience, gun ownership tracks closely with a generally negative perception of other people. my experience is also that my friends who own guns tend to live in places where they’re extremely unlikely to need to defend themselves- rural, homogenous communities with little violent crime. And then they’re super careful about their guns- storing them in a safe with trigger locks. What good is that going to be against a burglar? I think that part of the gun obsession is a fantasy about being a heroic badass.

    and then there are people like my dad, who thinks he needs a gun to keep the government from taking his house. ::sigh:: that’s the other part of the American gun obsession, the paranoid streak in our culture.


  10. I’m good at archery and tennis — I think they’re related, you have to pitch that thing — and I am sure I’d love to learn to shoot, and be good at it. And I have internalized the American fantasy that you ought to know how in case you need to. Haven’t gotten around to it though, glad you did.

    People who think they need guns to be safe are fucken off their rockers.


  11. I don’t know–gun ownership out here is so widespread and common that I think some of those generalizations can’t really hold up.

    And it’s really true about even college professors owning guns. I know of at least 4 former and current colleagues who own guns–more than just a historic rifle, that is. That was never my experience in the East or in the Midwest, at least not that I knew of.


  12. H’ann I am like you. I have never fired a gun in my life. My in laws have increasingly become OBSESSED with guns (along with Glenn Beck, the Tea Party etc etc). So I get an earfull of this gun shit every time we go visit. Their thing now is taking our boys to the gun range — liberal Marxist parents of course would never do this, but ALL YOUNG PEOPLE NEED TO LEARN GUN SAFETY –so they have taken them to the range a few times this summer. I swear they do this to get a reaction from me. I have been 100% supportive. It’s been a good experience for the boys, they have enjoyed it. 2 Christmases they gave my wife and I a 9mm Glock … to protect us against “druggies” and the oncoming Obama-enabled apocolypse I guess … we have never even taken it out of the case. This obsession with guns really is a curious thing.


  13. Henry, I think you’re probably right not to make guns seem like the forbidden fruit for your children. And, gun safety is probably a very good thing to learn at some point in their lives, especially considering the fact that they’ll be in homes that keep firearms (if only at your in-laws.)

    My friends with guns aren’t paranoid about home invasion, but I guess it’s that fear that your in-laws have about “druggies” that I just don’t share and have never felt. There’s only so much risk that any of us can manage as individuals–and I guess I’m more persuaded by the medical/public safety research that suggests that guns can be at least as dangerous to their owners and owners’ families than to any home invaders.

    (Even if I did change my mind, I share a home with Fratguy, and he would never permit guns in the house. Pediatricians are pretty clear about the relationship between guns and children’s health.)

    I’m still searching for that high-fashion kevlar vest, though, so if any readers find one do let me know.


  14. I think the gun obsession can become self-perpetuating. As more states allow people to carry concealed weapons (even in bars!), I’ve been thinking that we all should learn basic gun handling and safety because the chances of getting caught in a shoot-out seem greater all the time. The more “they” have guns, the more I might need to get one to protect myself against “them.” Great system!

    I just saw “Annie Get Your Gun” Saturday (Glimmerglass Opera, Deborah Voight having a ball), and looked up the real Annie Oakley. She was a major advocate of teaching women to use guns properly; could she be the founder of the feminist gun-owners strain of thought? I also found it interesting that in real life her husband Frank Butler was enormously supportive of Oakley’s superior show-womanship, whereas in the musical he’s a big egotistical baby!


  15. I’m glad that you went shooting and received some proper instruction in handling firearms.

    I’ve killed creatures with guns and enjoyed target shooting. I ate the creatures that I’ve killed. My mother, father, and several siblings shoot regularly and my parents have lots of shooting trophies. That I do not own a gun sometimes strikes me as missing an essential element of life as I’ve always known it. At our county Democratic convention a few years ago, I helped defeat an anti-gun platform plank written by someone that clearly lacked knowledge of firearms. The necessary argument, it turned out, was that the plank would be an embarrassment to the party for the ignorance it projected. (The proposal wanted some limit on handguns in which it was possible to put six rounds in the chamber. I doubt that such a gun has ever existed.)

    In the West and in the South where shooting and hunting are deeply rooted in the culture, progressives should shoot and campaign for political office at shooting ranges. When more Democrats take their fellow legislators shooting, as the late Senator Frank Church was fond of doing, it becomes easier to contest the poisonous lies propagated by the NRA.

    I find America’s gun culture strange and a little disturbing. It is something worth studying, however. One reason stems from the strange ironies that occur when Second Amendment issues come before the courts: the conservatives on the Court strike down local laws with arguments they usually find repugnant. The liberals, too, seem to articulate views they normally scorn.


  16. My in laws like to push buttons. It’s how they roll. It has been good for the boys and they have never once asked US to go to the range or get a gun, etc. In laws are absolutely convinced that the economy is going to crash, and then all the illegal immigrants, oxycontin addicts, and lazy welfare shits are going to revolt. So they are packin heat, locked and loaded, and ready to roll when that happens (not if).


  17. On second thought, I wouldn’t repeal the Second Amendment, just the obsolete “rights” it purports to preserve, by deleting all of the words that follow “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state…” That way, when second-wave (non-Tea Party) Martians land in a thousand years or so (we’re not going *there* anytime before that under the Obama privatize NASA schema) they can treat it as a sort of rune carved in the granite or a fragment of a Dead Sea Scroll. “What they hell were they talking about,” they can ask (or however you ask that in Martian 2.2)?”…

    By the way, notwithstanding Comrade’s technical qualms, I kind of like that “backward-slant” shooting stance, Historiann. It’s likely to make the projectile arch over the head of the target, but that’s the whole idea, like a “message pitch” in a bad minor league baseball game.


  18. “Safety” is an interesting concept. My knee-jerk response to the idea of having a gun is that I would feel less safe, because it would be really easy for someone to disarm me and use it against me. Plus/related, guns are *ranged* weapons. Unless you see your home invader coming up the driveway or over the back fence–or your in-public attacker coming down the street–there are much better defense options.

    I have no issues with sport shooting or hunting at all, but if I did that, I would want my weapons stored someplace other than my home.


  19. Looks like you had fun! (Though CPP is right on your stance). Hope you weren’t wearing open toed shoes or anything. Some women here shot a man at a range when a hot shell fell down her shirt and burned her. The things can hurt, it’s a good idea to cover up when you’re new to it.

    I’m a gun owner having come from a non-owning home and married to someone who came from an anti-gun home. I also live in what’s probably considered an anti-gun state. I own because they are fun to shoot, but also because they are interesting machinery to me. I don’t see it as drastically different from my obsession with electronics and computer equipment in expense and for the sake of collecting, though obviously drastically more dangerous.

    I don’t buy the home defense argument (you are likely pretty screwed if something happens). I guess it’s a nice comfort for people though along with a home security system or a faith in God or whatever people do to comfort irrational fears. And if the government comes after us, if that includes military and police we are also pretty screwed. If it does not, we don’t need guns. Zombie apocalypse seems more likely to me. I also agree conceal carry permits can be incredibly dangerous, and like that my state has strict laws on that as well as no “open carry” rights.

    Some gun law changes are stupid. Things that target specific hardware elements are not always effective. I would much rather see some sort of background check and psychological assessment. Maybe in the same way that in order to get a security clearance you do a pretty comprehensive questionnaire, and higher security clearance means a personal interview. I keep thinking of that nutjob in Arizona and how if somebody had talked to him for more than 2 minutes they probably would have realized he was off his rocker and shouldn’t be sold a gun. But even gun sellers don’t have the sort of rights to deny that, probably the DoJ should control licensing of firearms. It wouldn’t catch everybody, but I think it would be more effective than hardware limits. Then again, I don’t feel that I am typical of gun owners and most would probably loudly protest the “guv’ment” violating their rights as such.

    Another reason I like to own firearms is that I feel lefty socialist feminists like myself should be owners as well. I’m queasy with crazy right wing nutjobs being the only ones stockpiling weapons and ammo. If there’s anybody I think I might have to defend myself against with my firearms it’s those people.


  20. Actually, I have also thought of arming myself against the right wing. And many of my colleagues are gun owners (I live in the South, where it isn’t weird). It comes down to where you want to spend money, though. I want a new desk and chair and all kinds of stuff so I don’t know when I’ll get around to acquiring a rifle. But where my colleagues get them is at pawn shops.


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