Research. It’s not my strong suit. So this is what I told myself I was doing, in order to have the nerve to agree to a day at the gun range. My boyfriend, Tadd loaded his various weapons of choice into his car along with some wooden poles for holding targets.
“We’ll get something to eat to take out there,” he said. “I’m always hungry at the range.” I didn’t think I’d get hungry, as my stomach was full to the brim with nerves. When had I become such a giant pussy? I wonder what my dad would say.
The range was located in Richmond Hill past the actual city, down an unpaved dirt road lined with pine trees on either side. I was from the country, this road could have led up to my parents drive way. My stomach lurched as we drove over the bumps in the road. No turning back now. I expected to hear a certain amount of gunfire as we approached but it was totally silent except for the wind.
There were two older gentleman sitting by themselves with their weapons out on the wooden tables. One of them had a hunting rifle sitting on a stand and he sat down to shoot it. That didn’t seem so scary. As soon as one of them fired a shot off, it was so shockingly loud my insides turned to water. I had the insane instinct to run away. I made myself stay put because Tadd had called me brave earlier. “You’re not afraid of anything,” he’d said. Was that true? I liked the idea of him thinking I’m fearless and I really did need to familiarize myself more with firearms to be able to describe them properly.
In my new novel, The Price of Her, there is nothing supernatural so most of the characters have guns. I can’t rely entirely on google for my research. I need to know how it felt. Tadd removed all the bullets and let me get a feel of pulling the trigger for both the .9mm and the .40 cal before I actually fired one. He informed me that the .9mm is the one that he always carries with him. Make note of that bad guys, always carries with him.
After my practice round he loaded both handguns and stood there waiting for me to do something. I aimed at the center of the Walmart target sticker but couldn’t make myself pull the trigger. I put the gun down on the wooden table feeling defeated. I didn’t know why I was so afraid.
It took me one hour and several rounds of watching everyone else shoot before I became accustomed to the sound. When Tadd fired the .40 cal the entire bench I was sitting on vibrated. That is what scared me. I was worried about dropping the gun. But I didn’t want the day to end with me yet again failing to shoot anything. I’d gone to the indoor range before and was unable to get near the guns after a shell casing popped off and hit me between the eyes.
I knew if I could just pull the trigger once, it would be over and I wouldn’t be scared anymore. I sat down on the wooden bench, flicked off the safety and gripped Tadd’s AR with both hands. For some reason the double grip made me feel more secure and the sitting helped. If I dropped it, it would just fall over on the table. I lined up the little red dot with the center of one of the stickers and finally fired. It felt like holding the Fourth of July in my hand. My stomach stopped hurting and I was able to move on with my life. I ended up firing everything, although the shotgun only got a single shot. It’s recoil felt like being punched in the shoulder and left a red mark. I had to give it at least one try because one of my main characters carries a one. Of course my character is a big burly man who won’t be bothered like a much smaller woman wearing a thin tank top might.
I also have a scene where my characters use high powered bows and arrows. On the agenda for next week… archery!