Beth as Dirty Harry and 007

As I hoisted my first gun ever, Kevin mentioned that my hands weren’t shaky. Since I was clenching my arms all the way up to my shoulders trying to aim and look tough, I didn’t feel that I was holding the gun steady.

The comment sounded like a compliment, but then I thought about all the stereotypes pertaining to women and guns. That brought me round to a ridiculous scene in the TV series Sons of Anarchy.

A woman has been raped by two skinheads. She runs into one of them (literally) while she’s out shopping and decides to follow him. She pulls a large gun out of her car and has it pointed right at his head when she hears him talking to his son on the cell phone. And then she can’t shoot him … because she’s a mother, and he’s a father.

Excuse me while I gag.

If I were in that situation, I’d pull the trigger twice as fast because then that boy wouldn’t be raised by a rapist and possibly grow up to be one himself. Removing rapists from the population is a good thing.

But at least her hands weren’t shaking.

Anyway. Kevin is the member of Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers who organized this little caravan to the Family Shooting Center, located in Cherry Creek State Park. The idea was that authors could learn about the feel and smell and sound of firing a gun in order to write better about the subject.

I was nervous but excited. I was there because I’d learned how to disarm someone in Krav Maga, and I wanted to know what to do with a gun if I ever managed to wrest one from an assailant. I have no plans to create gun-toting characters.

I started out with a revolver, which I believe was a .38 special. Kevin showed me how to hold the gun, which was different from what I expected: I had to press the sides of my hands, underneath my thumbs, against each other, and wrap my fingers around the grip—except, of course, for the trigger finger. I can’t remember if I was supposed to support the other side of the gun with my left index finger. He reminded me to keep my fingers out of the way of any hot gases escaping from the chamber.

This revolver—I shot two—had almost no recoil, but the shells falling nearby (or on my shoulders) startled me. It took me a while to actually hit the target because I was aiming too low. Then I switched to the Glock 9mm. It had a little bit of recoil, but my main problem with it was pulling back the slide. I was trying to do that with my left hand, and it was difficult.

I had the same problem with the Walther (007’s gun).

My favorite was the .44 Magnum (Dirty Harry’s gun—notice a trend here?), but I wasn’t allowed to shoot a full magazine, just two bullets. I guess the ammunition is expensive. It had the worst recoil, of course, and it was quite heavy and deafening. Good thing I had those purple ear protectors on, which staff offered me because they matched my shirt.

Doug, who runs the center, was very generous, giving us a rather long lecture and then letting us practice for a couple of hours for $25. I think he lost money, since he usually charges a range fee, plus rental for the gun and the cost of the ammunition.

I definitely want to go back. I could take lessons there in shooting handguns, rifles, and shotguns. I could even practice archery, which I haven’t done since grade school, when I had my own set and practiced in the backyard (no neighbors were harmed).