Hi there! I recently had the opportunity to try shooting for the first time courtesy of @darwindingo (my uncle) and @juststarting (legend). The short version of the story is that I loved it and am very keen to have another go. What follows is the slightly longer version, basically giving my experience as a brand new shooter. Hopefully it is enjoyable or interesting to some.
I might talk about this in another topic at another time, but here’s a list of things I used on the day:
- CZ model Shadow 2 Orange in 9mm
- S&W model 686 (4" barrel) in 38special and 357Mag
- Henry model Big Boy Carbine in 357Mag
- CZ model 515 in 22LR
- Glock (not sure what model) in 9mm
All bar the Glock are owned by @juststarting. Thank you so much for spoiling me!
Short and sweet; despite growing up in the country and having an uncle who is mad into shooting, I have somehow managed to never even hold a gun, much less fire one. This doesn’t mean I was afraid of guns or particularly against them in regulated, controlled environment (I won’t get into politics here, but the rules in Australia seem fair and reasonable to me, as someone who isn’t yet deeply invested in the sport); it only means that my experience with guns has pretty much been nil until this past weekend.
Before I arrived at the range I didn’t feel strongly one way or the other about shooting. I was interested in trying something new and, spurred on by my uncle, figured that there wasn’t any harm in giving shooting a try; after all, I’ll only be shooting cardboard and metal, right?
Once I arrived at the range, I started to feel a little more nervous. It’s a controversial opinion that guns are inherently dangerous, but I think everyone can agree that they are built (or at least have the capacity) to kill things, even if that’s not what they’re necessarily used for all the time, and the fact that I was suddenly in very close proximity to live fire (again, for the very first time) was a little disconcerting.
That feeling abated pretty quickly as @juststarting furbished me with some protective eye wear and noise-cancelling headphones and gave me a tour of the facilities, explaining the rules about where you can stand while shooting, where the safe areas to inspect guns are and the idea of “overemphasising safety” (I love this phrase) and demonstrating respect and caution when using firearms.
The First Shot
We started with a CZ model Shadow 2 Orange handgun in 9mm. The first thing that struck me was the weight (I don’t know what I was really expecting here) and I handled it quite gingerly at first. The first thing we went over was proper handling and safety, how to check if the gun is loaded and how to eject the magazine, etc. I really appreciated this as it reassured me that, with proper handling and respect, there’s nothing to be afraid of.
Once we got over to the range itself and stepped through the basics, I took my first shot. The nerves were back because I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from the kickback, and I was worried the gun was going to fly out of my hand. Ultimately, I took the shot and my first thought was “WOW!” followed quickly by “that wasn’t so bad”. Thanks to @juststarting’s guidance on proper handling, the kickback was very manageable and my expectations were set (for those wondering, I managed to pass the flinch test later on).
When I was handed the shell casing from my first shot, I immediately felt proud of myself, not just because I managed to hit the target but also because I had genuinely put myself out of my comfort zone and tried something new. Moreover, I tried something that a lot of people have strong opinions about, and I now feel confident discussing it because - unlike some - I have actually done it myself.
Summary and Advice
I had a fantastic time at the range. Once I got comfortable with the basics and the idea and practice of handling a firearm, my nerves quickly abated and were replaced with pure excitement at trying the next gun, feeling the differences to the ones I’d shot previously, comparing the different bullet calibers, and trying to improve my accuracy.
The feeling of firing a round, the satisfaction of hitting a target, inspecting your groupings and hearing the ding and seeing a metal plate drop is hard to beat. I’m very glad I gave this a go and, as @darwindingo predicted, I’d say I’m pretty hooked! I’ll be going for my license very soon and hopefully be back at the range soon as well.
To any others who might be considering having a go or might feel as nervous or unsure as I did, I can only say to please try it! With proper handling and supervision, it’s a perfectly safe and very friendly, social environment (the Glock I used belonged to a perfect stranger who was kind enough to let me have a go).
You can read all you want, watch as many videos as you want and listen to experienced shooters describe it to you as much as you want, but this is one of the things in life that you simply have to experience for yourself. If you’re skeptical about firearms for whatever reason, I encourage you even more so; your opinions might change after experiencing it firsthand, and even if they don’t change then at least you can say with confidence that you’ve tried it and it wasn’t for you.
Thanks again to @juststarting and @darwindingo!
And thank you for making it this far if you read the whole thing. This ended up being much longer than I anticipated, but I figured it would be more interesting to provide some detail rather than simply saying “I tried shooting for the first time and it was fun”. Hopefully you found it enjoyable and interesting.
After all that text, I’ll leave you with a picture of the shell casing from my first shot. Have a great day!