Frustration at the Gun Range

bold targetMy husband’s employer was gracious enough to host a company picnic at Ceraland Park, Cummins’ recreational area.  We were excited about the food and the fellowship, the pool, the paddle boats, and the camping, but most of all, I was excited about a trip to the gun range.  Before I tell my story though, I need to be clear about something.  I don’t want to hear any comments like, “If you would have gone to the range sooner,”, or, “If you’d just FOUND a way to get some money. . .” If my aunt had — fill in the blank here — she’d be my uncle.  The ifs aren’t helpful, so I just need to get that out of the way first.

Before I share the frustrations of Saturday’s trip to the range though, I guess I need to share a little background.  In 2009, my dad gave me a little H&R .22 revolver.  My husband was at work at the time, but when he got home, I was quick to show him what I affectionately called “the varmint gun”.  (At the time, I couldn’t help but think that tiny little revolver wouldn’t be good for much else.  My thoughts on that subject have since changed.)

Now, I grew up with guns but Fred didn’t, so I gave him the basic “here’s how you don’t shoot yourself or anything else you don’t intend to” spiel.  In short order, Fred got his carry permit and we were ready for him to get some range time.  Problem was, there weren’t any convenient, inexpensive places within a 30-minute drive at which we could shoot.  We asked around, but the search for a range took a back seat to things like buying and rehabbing our first home.

Fast forward to last year’s picnic at Ceraland.  Fred and a group of coworkers went to the range.  Not only did Fred get to shoot our revolver for the first time, he got to shoot a variety of weapons including some that I would jokingly call “shoulder-mounted canons”.  Fred spent a good deal of time at the range that day with his buddies, and he enjoyed shooting.  I wasn’t able to go with them because I was looking after our kiddos, so I only heard about Fred’s experience second-hand.

Knowing that the range would be available to us at this year’s picnic, I knew I wanted to shoot.  I also wanted to take our daughter who, at the age of almost 10, hasn’t shot anything other than her BB gun.  We made arrangements with some of Fred’s coworkers to look after our boys so Fred, Abby and I could spend a little time at the range.  I was stoked!

Once we got to the range, Fred placed our revolver on the bench and said, “Do you want to go first?” I told him, “No, that’s OK.  You can go first,”, but he was quick to say, “No, I was kinda thinking you’d go first.”

I couldn’t help but laugh to myself.  I imagined him thinking, “I’ve never seen my blind wife shoot before, and I want to see if I have anything to worry about.”

With that thought, I stepped up to the bench, I drew the weapon, I took one breath in, and as I exhaled, I squeezed the trigger.  Much to my dismay, nothing happened.  Feeling like a big wimp, I leveled the revolver, and again, I tried to fire.  Again, I had no luck.  Trying a third time, I squeezed as hard as I could, and although the trigger moved, it didn’t move enough to fire the weapon.

I felt really defeated, and I layed the gun down on the bench telling Fred, “I don’t think I’m going to be able to shoot this.”  He seemed a bit perplexed, and the shooter next to us, one of Fred’s coworkers,  tried to help.  “If you hold it like this,”, he demonstrated, “and you use this hand for leverage here,”, he placed my left hand under my right, “you should be able to shoot.” Everything he showed me made perfect sense, so I tried a fourth time with a new sense of confidence.  Still, nothing.

My frustration was building after still more failed attempts to pull the trigger.  The coworker who’d tried to help came back to talk more with me.  He explained, “It’s just a .22 so you won’t feel anything”, and at that point, I realized that he thought I was failing because of fear of the recoil.  I explained that I’ve shot .22s before so I knew what to expect there.  I simply couldn’t fire the darned gun!

Fred managed to get some practice in, and he had a chance to deal with a jammed cartridge.  My daughter tried to shoot, but like me, she just wasn’t strong enough for the heavy trigger pull.

As I stood back and watched Fred shoot, I couldn’t help but think, “Now I see why people want ‘trigger jobs’ on those gun shows on the Discovery Channel.” Our little revolver is a sturdy, reliable gun.  I just can’t shoot it!

Saturday was definitely a learning experience.  In the whole time that we’ve had that gun, I assumed that I could just pick it up and shoot it if the time came.  It never occurred to me that I wouldn’t be able to pull the trigger.

Now fortunately, I don’t think it has anything to do with the strength of my hand but more the shape of the trigger and the length of my fingers.  I have very short fingers, and I can’t manage to get my finger in a spot on the trigger that’ll allow me enough leverage to fire it.  This means that when I get my carry permit next year, we’ll have to do one of two things.  I’ll either take the H&R revolver to a gun smith who’ll customize it so I can shoot it, or I’ll go to a gun shop with a range so that I can fire a multitude of guns and choose the one that best suits me.  To be honest, I’m leaning more toward both choices so that I can fire any gun we own, but we’ll have to see how funds play out.

As I pondered my experience, I couldn’t help but wonder how many folks out there are facing this situation without even realizing it.  I’d assume that it’d be more of an issue for us women since we have smaller hands, but I guess an older man might have the same issues if his grip strength were compromised by arthritis or something along those lines.

My husband didn’t start actually carrying our revolver until he had some range time under his belt.  We thought that was critical, especially since he had nothing more than the slightest of introductions to firearms in Boy Scouts as a kid.  I’m comfortable with guns though, and like I said, I assumed that if it were required of me, I’d use that revolver if there were no other choice.  Apparently, I was wrong, and as frustrating as that fact is to me right now, at least I know.  Now I can move forward with a problem having been identified.  After all, you can’t solve problems that you don’t know you have, right?

Ideally, I would have known about this problem much sooner.  Ideally, I’d have my carry permit too and Fred and I would be going to the range every week.  Our circumstances can’t afford us that luxury now though.  Until they can, we’ll move forward making some slight adjustments to our plans when it comes to firearms for our family.

Learn something new every day, folks.  Keep on claiming liberty for yourself and your family, and never forget that what you do matters!

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1 Response to Frustration at the Gun Range

  1. Joyce says:

    The latter half of this month’s Indiana Professional Engineer newsletter deals with the evaluation of a gun that supposedly discharged unintentionally after having been modified by a gunsmith. This may give you information for making your decision. The results indicate that using a longer spring with lower ‘k’ value may make the gun even less likely to discharge accidentally than the original manufacturing. Another method of grinding the parts, if done properly, can also provide a safe result. However, the gun being evaluated used a weaker spring of the same length which resulted in much greater chance of accidental discharge (because the spring didn’t hold the parts in place properly) and greater variability in actuation.
    In short, if you choose to modify the gun you have, talk to your gunsmith and find out what the smith plans to do to ensure that the gun only fires when you intend it to fire.
    The July/August IPE is free for non-members until the next issue comes out (probably in September). Indiana Professional Engineer Journal

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