I’m often told I don’t “look” like I would like guns. Whatever that means. But I’m OK with that. You see, I’m not exactly a “girl” anymore (I’m OK with that, too). I’m a 53 year-old grandma. I’m not someone who has been shooting all my life. I started shooting on Easter Sunday, 2009. Sounds a bit strange, but it was a very rainy Easter. Not much to do. My husband had been shooting for years, had taken our son target practicing, and then that day, when we were sitting around looking at the rain, he suggested we go down to the local gun range and shoot the 22s. Like I even knew what a 22 was. I was terrified. You may wonder why I even went if I was so scared. My husband is a wonderful man who spoils me absolutely rotten, so when he really wants to do something, I go along with it even if I’m nervous. I was nervous. I was silent all the way there, just praying that he would forget his code number to get in, that it would be closed, that it would be too busy – anything to not have to shoot. But none of that happened.
He set up a bolt-action .22 rifle and showed me how to use it. I was shaking so bad I can’t believe I even got a bullet in. He was patient, kept encouraging me and helped me take it slow. By the time we left, I was excited and talkative and already feeling empowered. “This place is open 24/7?!” I asked with wonder. Oh, the anticipation now that we could go there and do that anytime we wanted.
I was pretty proud of myself for shooting a .22. Then a couple of weeks later we were at the local Walmart and my husband decided to look at shotguns. He had the clerk show me a youth size. I realized he wanted to buy one for me. Oh, great, here we go again. I don’t want a shotgun, I’m terrified of a shotgun, I’ve heard how they kick and they’re scary and, and, and… But again, I indulged my wonderful husband. So, the day came when we went to try out the shotgun. Again, I was silent all the way there. Please rain, please rain, please rain. But it didn’t.
My husband set up a big piece of plywood and had me just hold the shotgun and shoot toward the board to see how it felt. It was OK, not as scary as I thought. Then we tried shooting at clay targets. I didn’t hit any that first day, but started feeling good shooting the gun, realizing there was no horrible kick-back like I’d heard, and really loving that feeling of pumping it. Oh, yeah! Again, I was excited and talkative all the way home.
I was surprised by my enjoyment of shooting. It has helped me to see that I truly have the ability to defend myself and not be anyone’s victim. The Second Amendment was not really on my radar before this so I never thought much about it, but now its importance has become crystal clear to me. I have started talking to my daughters, co-workers and friends about shooting. Often other women will start out saying how scared they are of guns, and not really wanting to even talk about it – until I tell them that I was also terrified of guns just three years ago. Once I say that, they always stop walking away, turn back towards me and ask, “Oh, really?” Then they want to hear my story of not only how I got started shooting but my continued learning with other guns and taking classes and workshops. I think the fact that I wasn’t raised on guns, that I am new to it, and maybe even my age, makes them realize that I know how they feel. Then they want to know how I changed that. I’m more than happy to share with them. I have also been surprised at the number of women who fondly remember target practicing with their brothers when they were young. It never really occurred to them that they could still shoot if they want to.
So if you think your mom or grandma is too old to learn to shoot, or that they wouldn’t be interested, ask them. You just might be surprised!