On Saturday, Rich and I went to the shooting range to fire the shotgun. For having spent years cleaning, carrying and firing rifles in the Army, Rich is not really much of a gun nut. He has no use for handguns and the shotgun is the only firearm either of us own. He bought it a few months ago from a friend/co-worker for a "too good to pass up" price, but had only used it just a week or so ago.
Until Saturday, I had never shot a gun in my life and rarely held one.
I had agreed to go shooting with Rich because I trust him to not let me do something dumb or hurt myself and I don't like the idea of a shotgun in the house that I would swing at a zombie or bad guy like a baseball bat if need be. I was a bit nervous, though, handling the shotgun since all of its parts were a mystery to me and its primary purpose is to kill people (or zombies).
We arrived at the range and I let Rich lead. He paid our range fees, bought me a range card and picked out my eye/ear protection. I followed him into bay 3 and we started to set up. I was grateful we have already developed keen lip reading and signing skills since you can't hear crap with those earmuffs on. Well, you can hear guns going off, but not much else.
The first time someone pulled the trigger in that bay I jumped a little and thought "Holy shit, I'm not sure I can do this. That was incredibly loud." But again I looked at Rich and he seemed calm so I just stuck with him.
zombie killer 9000 shotgun has an extended tube on it, so it can hold seven shells. He showed me how to flip the release, load the shells and rack the first one into the chamber. I watched him fire seven times into the target at the end of the range and resisted the temptation to clamp my hands over the earmuffs. Suddenly it was my turn.
I could feel my stomach fluttering and my heart felt like it was beating fast. I felt warm all over and almost like I wanted to cry. Watching Rich helped, but I was concerned about the whole thing. I loaded my seven shells into the tube (I even had to ask which way they go in, that's how much of a shotgun n00b I am), and prepared to fire just like Rich had. But everything felt all wrong.
Suddenly it dawned on me that I'm left-handed. Duh! That's why everything felt awkward and cumbersome. I switched hands and it got slightly better. Turning off the safety was a little harder that way, but I'm sure a left-handed Benelli shotgun is prohibitively expensive for the number of times I'll use it. I lifted the shotgun and peered down the sights.
Wait, is it okay to put my face on the gun? Am I about to get a black eye? Should it push into my shoulder or armpit? Rich helped me position it all and assured me I could safely rest my face on the side of the shotgun and not lose my left eye. Here we go.
I lifted the gun again it felt like it weighed 50 pounds. I don't remember it weighing this much before. Looking down the sights, the target seemed to bob around above the "lollipop stick" I was trying to make. My heart was definitely beating faster than usual and I felt certain tears would pour down my face as soon as I pulled the trigger. I stood there for what seemed like an hour but was more like 30 seconds. And then
BANG. BANG. BANG. BANG. BANG. BANG. BANG. click.
Oh, I guess that was seven. I set the shotgun down on the shelf in front of me and heaved a sigh of relief. No tears. No black eye. No broken shoulder. Just a bunch of empty shells scattered on the shelf and my target sheet whirring back towards me as Rich reeled it in.
I had made a reasonably tight pattern (hard to tell with shot since it goes everywhere) but was a little high on the target. We assume I was concerned about it recoiling so was jerking it up when I shot. But if any zombie squirrels had been at the end of the range, they would have been blown to pieces. I was proud of myself for not being a wuss about the whole thing (at least not that anyone else could tell - I felt pretty wussy). But I still felt shaky. This is not how I normally am about stuff like this. Why do I still feel so uneasy?
I turned to the litmus test I always do when I can't figure out what's wrong - my blood glucose meter. I sat on a bucket in the range area while Rich loaded the shotgun again and checked my blood. 66 mg/dL. Aha! Even more so than the duh of remembering I'm left-handed, I remember I'm diabetic and if I check my blood before exercising or driving a car, I should probably check my blood before handling a loaded firearm. That would explain the shakes, fast heart rate and urge to cry for no good reason.
Thankfully, the range sells sodas for $0.50 each and I paid for two even though I only needed one. I watched Rich fire the slugs he bought and felt certain I needed no parts of that (wow those made a lot of noise and I think I saw flames come out of the end of the barrel). I feel a little silly not realizing all the typical low blood sugar signs but feel good knowing if zombies attack and I've over-bolused for lunch and have low blood sugar I can still kick their asses. Next time we go to the range, though, I think I'll bring a snack.