Shooting guns

February 21, 2008

Everyone knows there’s one primal, raucous, smoking-hot urge that every young adult yearns to satisfy—even at Georgetown, Jesuit institution that it is. It’s raw, it’s pulse-pounding and on President’s Day, along with five open-minded friends, I finally satisfied this visceral desire for the first time. I shot a gun.

Actually, I shot as many guns as I could get my hands on at Select Fire, an indoor shooting range in Glen Burnie, Md. Of course beginners were only allowed to try two—one .22 caliber pistol, one .38. I couldn’t tell you a whole lot about either, except that the .22 looked like something John Wayne might have carried in his holster, whereas the .38 was more likely to make a cameo appearance in a 50 Cent music video. A win-win either way, really.

But before our palms were even allowed to taste that cold steel, we were pistol-whipped in the face by our surroundings in this Second Amendment-lover’s paradise. The actual range, where the shooting happens, was next door in a room that was not sound proof enough to keep us from practically hitting the deck and cowering in fear with every pop. What we saw in Select Fire’s version of a pro shop (when we weren’t face down on the floor) was a potluck of pistols, rifles and other violent-looking things that could probably annihilate all of Glen Burnie. Gun cases and boxes of ammunition lined the walls, sharing space with the poster-sized paper targets we would soon be shredding if we had learned anything from Jack Bauer.

We were welcomed by the 20-something range cashier, Wayne, who also served as our firearm guru, pinning us as beginners on sight. Wayne had a little bit of a southern drawl and a whole lot of disdain for the way we Joe and Jane Hoyas were acting in his store full of killing machines. For whatever reason, he was not as tickled as we were by the paper target picturing a fat, snarling, gun-toting Eastern European (probably left over from the Reagan Era). Nor did he break the news gently when he informed us that the target picturing a kidnapper and hostage was, shockingly, sold out.

Wayne showed us how to load and unload our weapons with the speed of a NASCAR pit crew on a tire change, and we entered the range with skills as unpolished as the old revolvers they gave us. With the help of the only experienced shooter among the group we learned fast, left only to choose our posture as we blasted away.

Stone faced and winking, we shot to our hearts’ desire, doing our best to hit our paper Ginos while following the rules (No head shots! Crotch shots, okay). Wayne eventually turned the lights out on us. Not the safest way to let us know it was closing time, we thought. But Wayne couldn’t darken our day. Just thirty bucks on President’s Day to learn you’re a lousy shot, relieve a little stress and have your say in the Cold War? God bless America.

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