Guns really do smoke when you fire them.
I’d never given much thought to the origin of the word gunsmoke till I saw the gray curl wafting from the barrel of a handgun I’d just fired.
My eagerness to learn to shoot probably surprises some friends. I seem more inclined to toy with yoga poses and garden shears than bullets and gunpowder.
But I grew up around guns. My father hunted when I was young, although he quit when the scopes became so powerful that he felt the deer didn’t have a sporting chance.
I wasn’t drawn to shooting to protect myself or home; I have little doubt that I would be the cautionary tale of keeping a gun in the house. I would have it wrested away from me by an intruder or shoot myself in the foot while cleaning it.
I wanted to try the activity for the sport, for the precision required.
Former co-worker Glenn Sheller recently took me to his indoor shooting range in Lancaster for my first lesson.
Although I’ve been around guns all my life – and even inherited one of my father’s rifles, I’d never fired one.
Glenn set me up with a Ruger .22 pistol, which was light enough for me to hold steady.
That crafted bit of black metal was intimidating, with so much power is packed into such a small device.
But I respected the gun the way I respect large bodies of water. Around water, you must always be aware that it can kill.
Same with guns.
Glenn showed me the basics: safety measures, proper grip, ideal stance.
And then I began shooting.
Using the .22, I hit the center of the target with a respectable number of shots from the Ruger over the next 90 minutes.
Glenn let me try a .22 Magnum revolver as well. It was heavier, with a trigger that required more force.
But with the revolver and later with a 9 mm, my aim was wilder, not nearly as accurate. I went back to the Ruger, with which I’d grown relatively comfortable with in a short time.
Keeping all Glenn’s guidance in mind as I shot was a bit of work. If I got my grip right, I let my stance slide. If I got my stance right, I anticipated the recoil. I tended to shoot always a bit to the left of where I aimed.
When we left, I could taste the sulfur of the gunsmoke at the back of my throat.
Glenn was an excellent teacher, though, and I enjoyed my time at the shooting range.
Conclusion: I’ll do this again.