And then I shot another, and another. Heh.
I went with rmd to a friend's birthday gathering, which was 9 of us (including tcb) shooting on a shooting range, and then dinner at a brew house. <irrelevancy>All of a sudden "brew" looks very odd to me. Brew brew brew. I mean look at that! Yeah, yeah.</irrelevancy>
So we got a lane and a weapon each (I think... the last couple to arrive may have shared one, not sure). There being only 10 lanes, we pretty much filled the place for an hour. We got shown guns so we could choose, and several of us chose "I've never shot before--would you recommend something?" which the guy was pleased to do.
I hope I've got the terminology right. I rely on those who were there to help out if I goof.
We all chose a variety of semi-automatic handguns, except that rmd chose a revolver and J chose an AR-15, with holographic sights. This is one of the intimidating-looking black rifles that was in the vague set of "AK-47s and all that" in my head. It's the rifle in the policeman's left hand in this news story. I said "okay, I have small hands and I've never shot before... whaddya think?" The guy said, "well, small hands, but you look strong--how's this?" and pulled out a Beretta .380. He had me try the feel of it ("finger along the barrel, not on the trigger; point it into the corner and see how it feels in your hand"). It felt heavy, but not uncomfortable, so I went with that.
Once we'd all chosen weapons, they each went (with magazines sitting separately) into baskets we'd later carry into the range. Then we got ear protection (earplugs and/or headphone/earmuff things) and targets (most of the array were free, but for $3 you could get an Osama target--I was tempted, but didn't). We all started off with a basic target with two orange dots something like 18" apart, and then could choose another--most of us went with "head and torso" body outlines for the second. All of this, and a half hour of range time, was part of a package that cost $35 - $55 per person, depending on the cost of ammunition for the gun you selected.
Then we went to the range. It was indoors, behind a sound-buffering airlock room. Have your ear and eye protection on (oh, yeah, they offered that too, but I have plastic-lens glasses which are sufficient), open the outer door, go into the padded room, close the outer door before opening the inner one. So we did that. And I loaded up the magazine (8 rounds), slid it in, flicked... hm. The slide switch? Closes the slide with a full magazine in. And I set up the target, sending it out 25 feet to where the first row of lights was, and aimed for the center of the target. "Don't look at the dots or other marks on the sights... just line up the *tops* of the front and back sights." So I did. And put the bullet roughly where I wanted it (down a couple inches, but well-centered).
I managed fine with the always keeping the gun pointing down-range part. The part about "don't cross your left thumb over the webbing of your right hand, because when the slide pops open, it *will* take flesh", that took a little longer. Thumb over thumb. Thumb over thumb. After 3 or 4 shots I tried hitting one of the target dots instead, and did.
I was very aware when I was on the last round, because I wasn't quite sure how it would feel when the slide popped back. Not a big deal. I released the magazine very gingerly... I didn't know whether to expect heat or anything. Loaded up again. Forgot thumb-over-thumb again. Was reminded. Decorated the area around one orange dot with a halo of little holes.
The guy suggested I swap to the other target so I did, firing all chest shots on the torso. I moved the target out to 50 feet and still had fair accuracy, but I wasn't sure until I brought the target back in because I need new eyeglasses. I could make out the target shape and the color gradient just fine, but picking out individual bullet holes was a bit trickier. rmd and I traded off, and I tried the Smith & Wesson revolver. There's no slide to worry about there, but the guy encouraged me to get in the habit of the thumb-over-thumb grip anyway, so I did. The revolver didn't seem to me to have quite as much recoil. I fired 10 rounds there and swapped back to my original lane. rmd had been doing head shots while I was doing chest shots. Heh. I tried a couple head shots and went back to chest.
(I guess somewhere in here rmd looked to see how I was doing, and the guy gestured toward me and said, "she's good". *preen*)
I traded lanes again to try a 22/45 Ruger. (If I understand correctly, the ammo is 22 but the grip and all is adapted from something that fires 45s.) I liked its lower recoil. I fired a few rounds there, then finished off in my own lane and returned the Beretta. rmd had just returned the revolver.
Everybody else was still inside, though, so we went back in. After rmd, I tried a few shots with the AR-15, setting it against my shoulder and bending my head down to the sights. "Don't look through the nearer sight," the guy advised, "just look in here," pointing to the actual display. Next to the "pop" of the handguns, it went "boom", though J says it was nothing. I'm aware there are levels of boom. ;-) Still, it was deeper and louder than anything else on the range at the time. The holographic sights were neat... a little red glowing targetting circle that looks almost as if it were a laser indicator glowing on what you're pointing it at, but it's all just inside the sights instead.
After about an hour everyone was done. I kept my targets, rolled up as a souvenir, and we adjourned to meat and potatoes and beer. Such appropriate fare. I had a caesar salad, don't tell anyone. ;-)
And check that out, we can close lj-cuts now. Heh.
It was neat. I was nervous (when it came the time to explain my gun in particular, I made the guy go over it twice), and I stopped after the first half hour because I was getting less accurate than I had been to begin with. I don't know if it was fatigue or adrenaline or just the repeated recoils, but I figured exhausting the 50 rounds that were part of the package was enough for the first time (give or take swapping lanes). But I'll do it again.