Friday, October 12, 2012

So You Shoot, Huh?

Even though I’m still relatively new to shooting and the gun world in general, people seem to like to come to me for advice on guns.  I’m not an expert, nor do I profess to know everything there is to know about firearms – far from it.  There are always new developments, weaponry and shooting techniques I have never seen before.  But maybe because I don’t know it all people feel more comfortable approaching me with questions they might feel silly asking an expert or more seasoned shooter.  A good number of women will ask me questions about my own experiences that I’m delighted to relate.  I didn’t realize how many other women were afraid of guns, or more to the point, asking “stupid” questions about them until I starting becoming more vocal about my hobby.  I figured I’d post some of the most common questions, and my answers here just in case any of you had the same questions.

“So you shoot a semi automatic and not a revolver?  Why?” 
Yes, I shoot a semi automatic.  The why is purely my own personal preference.  Semi automatics usually have a higher magazine capacity than revolvers, and I prefer the feel of them in my hand.  I just don’t care for how a revolver feels.  I’ve shot them; they’re just not my cup of tea.  If you prefer how a revolver feels in your hand, then that’s the style of gun you should consider.   If both styles feel good in your hand, go to a range that rents out guns to shoot and try each of them in different calibers and styles. 

“How do you manage to rack the slide back?  I can’t seem to get my husband’s gun to do it!”  
Men generally have more upper body strength and seem to have a stronger grip naturally.  Why else do we hand over those impossible to open jars over to our husbands?  It seems like the ability to rack that slide back comes easier to them.  I have little hands, delicate little fingers, and my grip strength is not equal to Bears.  In fact, I struggled like crazy to get the darn slide racked back the first 50 times or so.  Bear showed me how to use my dominant hand that’s on the gun grip to push the gun forward as my other hand was simultaneously racking the slide to the rear.  I didn’t get it the first time.  Or the second.  Or even the third.  I practiced till I did.  Once I did it successfully, I practiced some more till my hands were tired.  I still practice racking the slide back.  Your husband’s spring may be too tight for you to rack with ease, but another gun may be just right.  It’s sort of like Goldilocks and The Three Bears.  You have to find the one that’s just right for you. 

“Isn’t a .40 caliber really hard to handle, though?” 
Nope.  There are a lot of people who will tell you horror stories about recoil, and how the gun jumped and bucked and did all sorts of cartwheels across the range.  I’ve shot .22 caliber, .380 caliber, 9 mm, .40 caliber, and .45 caliber semi automatic handguns.  I won’t lie to you – there’s definitely a difference in the amount of recoil.  But as a smaller sized woman, I need to ensure that if I ever need to use lethal force against an assailant, that it will STOP them from advancing on me further.  I need to make every shot count.  A .22 won’t give me the same stopping power, even loaded with hollow points, as a .40 or even a 9mm will, also loaded with hollow points.  It simply won’t.  Larger holes equal more damage, so if someone who’s hopped up on Lord knows what is coming at me, or a rabid dog charges me, I’m putting my faith in a larger caliber.  It’s just where my comfort zone lies. 

“Why do you go to the range so often?  I just want one to keep in my nightstand drawer in case I need it.”
What fun is keeping it in your nightstand?!  Let’s take a step back and look at this scenario seriously for a minute.  You’re asleep in your bed, and you awake to hearing someone in your house.  Maybe they’re already just outside your bedroom door.  You have seconds to react.  Seconds from coming out of a deep sleep and having to have your weapon unlocked, loaded, and ready to fire, while issuing a loud, commanding, “Leave this house now – I have a gun and I will shoot you!”  Do you really want to be fumbling with a weapon you’re not familiar with, haven’t practiced with, in this situation, wasting valuable time that an attacker can get to you and possibly even turn the gun against you?  Or do you want to be confident in your ability to be loaded, racked, ready and able to hit your target on the first go?  I think the question here really becomes, “Why wouldn’t you go to the range often?”  We practice on the range, we do drills at home, and the peace of mind it provides me knowing that I’ll be able to access my gun in the minimum amount of time is invaluable…and it’s a heck of a lot of fun to shoot away the week’s frustrations.  (State imposed deadline of a half an hour to reply to a claim, I’m talking to you)

“The guy at the gun shop told me I didn’t need…”
This one kills me.  I’ve had more than a few patronizing gun store clerks try to hand me a tiny little pink or purple gun and tell me it’d be “just fine for a little lady” like myself.  If you run into this, smile sweetly, bless their hearts, hand them the gun back, and tell them you’ll be taking your business, and your money to an establishment who will take you as seriously as a male customer.  Then leave.  Don’t even bother giving them your business.  There’s gun shops a plenty here, and the few times I’ve run across that attitude, I have not only left, but I made sure to let everyone else know how they treat potential customers as well.  A good gun shop will be interested in helping you find the gun you want without scoffing or patronizing you in the process.  The guys at the local store we go to are respectful, helpful, and happy to talk guns with me.  They know I’m a “caliber queen” and don’t even bother showing me anything below a 9mm unless it’s in the spirit of a little light hearted teasing.  They know I take my guns seriously, and as a result, they take ME seriously. 

“But if your husband has a gun, why do you need one too?”
My husband also has a pair of boots, but I’m not going to go tromping around in his when my own fit me so much better.  I can shoot Bears guns, and often do, because it’s important to me to be proficient in all the guns in our house, but I still prefer to have my very own guns because they fit me.  Simple as that, really. 

In the South, guns are part of the culture.  In the areas I’ve lived in the north, it was almost taboo and the only time guns were ever really discussed was to jump up on a soapbox and lament our need for stricter gun control.  It might shock you, but I agree – we DO need stricter gun control….so be safe, get on out to the range, and work on controlling that gun – the x ring isn’t going to shoot itself, y’know! 

Till next time, y’all! 

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