Suppose you’ve got a few hours to kill before meeting up with your bride and the photographer for wedding photos. What do you do? If you said “shoot guns!” then you’d fit right in with my family (probably better than I do).
When Ammon and I pulled up at Jordan’s parents’ house in Twin Falls on Friday morning, we found him and Mark loading all sorts of weapons and ammunition into the bed of a giant pickup truck; the cab was already provisioned with water bottles, a small loaf of zucchini bread, and a wholesome array of candy bars.
|Loading the truck|
I expected that we’d end up at a shooting range with carefully monitored premises. Silly me -- turned out, the “shooting range” consisted of the side of a hill in the middle of nowhere.
It was obvious that we weren’t the only ones to have seen the spot’s potential – it was littered with spent shells, old “targets” (a.k.a. beer cans) and shattered clay pigeons. The rocks were pocked with bullet marks. Ammon set about laying out new targets; Mark and Jordan unpacked the guns and started loading them up. I stood by, astonished at the arsenal that emerged before my eyes.
then moved on to the musket (which was used in the battle of the Alamo and/or the movie The Alamo – I can’t remember which) . . .
the 22 rifle (proffered, reassuringly, as the “kids” gun) . . .
and then the assault rifle (which was completely outrageous but also, I must admit, the most fun to shoot).
|Pink gingham and assault rifles |
go together, right?
Keep in mind that all of this was totally new to me. Unlike my more rugged relations, I have never had any interest in or experience with guns. (I suspect they got the "if-you're-a-boy-you-must-like-guns" memo while I was busy reading Jane Eyre.) Fortunately, Jordan and Mark were very careful to teach me how to handle the guns and shoot them with laser-like accuracy (and by “laser-like accuracy” I mean, “into the hill”). Under their patient tutelage, I may have wounded at least one rock and come within spitting distance of an actual target. Not surprisingly, it quickly became obvious to everyone involved that I’m a natural. Daniel Craig called to ask if I wanted to play the next James Bond.
Eventually we ran out of bullets and started packing things up. Yay, I thought. Time for lunch!
Sadly, no. Turned out we were only at intermission. I learned that the second act entailed going to the top of the hill where we could “launch” things and shoot shotguns at them. Given the difficulty of hitting stationary objects, I thought this would be an impossible task. But then Jordan explained that shotgun shooting was “less about aim and more about just firing in the general direction.” Sage advice, that. I hit my first clay pigeon without batting an eye.
Having thus achieved near-godlike status among the shooting set, I was hungrier for lunch than ever. I was also kind of bored. The others' excitement hadn't flagged in the least, so I was happy to let them shoot the remaining rounds.
|Ammon on the launcher, Mark with the double-barrel shotgun|
As we drove back to the house, I mulled over what I’d just experienced – I knew people would ask whether I had fun, and I wasn’t sure that I could give an unqualified “yes.” Shooting was fun enough, in its way. I mean, you get to stand around in nature wearing earplugs while trying to break brightly colored pieces of clay -- that's kind of like hiking, right? And I felt a nice sense of accomplishment the first couple of times I actually hit the thing I was aiming for. Beyond that first hour, though, it just felt tedious. I could see the genuine enthusiasm and appreciation that the others felt for the mechanical operations of the firearms and the skills it took to shoot accurately. Perhaps if I took the time to learn more about those mechanics, or practice enough to acquire the marksman’s skills, I would feel the same way.
On the other hand, if we were in England and the shooting party looked like this . . .
Now that’s something I could get excited about.
Any shooting party involving Dan Stevens and Hugh Bonneville and tweed and British weather...yeah. I could do that. Actually, anything having to do with Downton I could get on board with. Clay pigeons in Idaho? Not so much.
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