Last weekend, I conquered one of my biggest fears alongside a few of my closest friends.
I didn’t jump out of an airplane. Although, it now sounds slightly tempting. I didn’t get a tattoo. I saw the look of disgust and disappointment on my mother’s face when my twin sister got tattoo number two last fall. I am smart enough to not make that mistake. I also hate needles. That will never go away.
Last Saturday I took a Concealed Carry class and and can now legally apply for a CCW permit if I so choose.
This may not sound like a big deal to most, but this is huge for me. I used to be terrified, and I mean petrified, of guns.
Prior to this class I’ve only shot a gun three times in my life, not counting practicing the night before.
I didn’t grow up with guns. My dad is not a hunter. In fact, I only know we have a shot gun somewhere on the farm because that’s how we keep the ground hogs in check. It just wasn’t my family’s thing.
The first time I shot a gun was visiting my college boyfriend at his family’s log cabin in rural Wayne County. This guy’s dad loved to pick on me since their definition of country was very different from mine. (Kind of the big hat, no cattle type). They couldn’t believe this farm girl had never shot a gun before, so he took the silver pistol off the wall (because of course that’s where they kept it) and showed me how to shoot off the back deck into the woods.
That was enough for me.
My blood pressure still spikes at the sight of a handgun on the holster of a police officer. I still panic at the sight of one under the arm of a detective in a courtroom. Yet, when you are friends with someone who loves guns, the type of person who would do snow angels in spent casings if that was possible, I had to swallow my fear and make the attempt to get over it.
The eight hour class was definitely an experience. The couple teaching it were humorous and sincere. I gave them a hard time about bashing the media a little bit during their presentations, but I felt better after one day of class and range shooting than I had in years of freaking out.
The time out on their shooting range was quite an experience. I’ve never shot a with other people around me. That took some getting used to. I was comforted by the fact my best friend was beside me. I guess if I was gonna die that day, at least she’d be by my side. Also, I have this habit of not breathing as I shoot at targets. I can’t help it. My face was beet red all day.
The more comfortable I became at loading and then unloading the gun (don’t ask me what kind it was, it was black that’s all I know), the more fun I had. The Queen laughed at me when I refused to do one exercise the instructor thought we could try. It was to shoot twice ahead of us and then once at a target down the range —in the far off direction of other people. This guy had a lot of trust in us.
But, I felt quite the opposite. That was pushing my comfort zone a bit much, so I stepped out of the line.
“Nope. You guys go on ahead. I’m not comfortable with this whole situation. You guys can shoot at each other all you want. Yep. Nope. Not gonna happen.” And I bowed out. Well, the rest of the group was just as uneasy so thankfully we modified the pattern that we all were OK with.
When people asked me how the class went, I likened it to the right to vote. Sure, legal citizens of the U.S. can vote, but do we really want an uneducated voter at the polls? Not exactly.
And just because I can legally obtain a gun, doesn’t mean I should own one. But at least I took one step towards educating myself if I should ever choose to exercise this right.
I wish uneducated voters would be as nervous at the polls as an inexperienced gun handler at a shooting range.
Now who wants to go sky diving with me?
“Twin” Melanie Yingst appears weekly in the Troy Daily News. She’s got great aim, but she’s slow as molasses.