I don’t remember open carrying at my daughter’s archery class. It’s easy to do. Forgetting you’re open carrying, I mean. If you’re not wearing your firearm in plain view to ruffle gun muggles’ feathers, it tends to slip your mind. Unless someone shady looking suddenly sidles up to you. Then you remember. It’s only happened a couple of times, but the adrenaline rush is quite spectacular. Anyway, I only knew I’d open carried at the archery range after the fact, when the instructor eyed me from across her desk and said . . .
she was putting-up a 30.07 sign prohibiting open carry. I was momentarily flummoxed. Wait, I thought, scrambling to gain mental purchase on the situation. When did I open carry here? Last week? Guess so. Apparently, “some of the mothers were worried about it.” Uh, OK.
It wasn’t the best defense of open carry I’ve ever made. I was focused on a worse prospect: that she’d put up a 30.06 sign prohibiting concealed carry as well. Then I’d have to decide between stashing my gat in the Merc or taking my daughter to another indoor archery range where I could exercise my gun rights.
If the archery instructor banned concealed carry, it would be easy enough for me to “put my foot down” and refuse to darken their door again. Firearms freedom is my brand. Aside from criminal deterrence, I open carry to spread the message, to normalize guns. So…walk the talk, baby! Unfortunately, it’s not that easy.
My second ex-wife, my daughter’s mother, is an alcoholic. She’s on a slow train to oblivion, via oblivion. As a single father, I’m focused on providing my daughter with stability. Moving her to Texas was a wrench. Settling her into her new life, a struggle.
Don’t get me wrong: she’s a happy, healthy, hard-working, relentlessly snarky pre-teen. Her far-flung sisters, my housekeeper and adult female friends are an excellent support system. But she still has moments where I worry whether she has the strength to establish and maintain her identity in what can be a cruel world. (In the back of my mind: depression runs in my family.)
When she took up archery, I was pleased by her persistence. The sport forces participants to master both mental and physical discipline, on an individual basis. The atmosphere in the range — that range — is austere, quiet, contemplative. The instructor exercises complete control over the class while correcting form, without uttering a single stern word. Ever.
“Are you going to put up a 30.06 sign?” I asked, waiting for the proverbial other shoe to drop.
“No,” she replied. “If I don’t see it, I don’t know it’s there. And neither does anyone else.”
Reading between the lines, I could tell she didn’t have a problem with me carrying a defensive firearm. Whether that was because she approved of me or the principle of armed self-defense, I don’t know.
“How’d you do?” I asked my daughter, keeping the encounter with her instructor to myself.
“Lousy,” she replied, throwing her arrow-pierced heart-shaped paper onto the floor and switching on Hits 1 to blast away any lingering disappointment.
“You want to go twice next weekend?” I asked.
“Yes,” she replied. “I still haven’t beaten my personal best.”
“What will you do after that?”
She looked at me as if I had pin lice in my eyebrows.
“Then I’ll try to beat that,” she answered, amazed at my stupidity.
A gun is the best defense against violent attack. But there are times when being disarmed is worth the risk. Right until it isn’t. I hope that moment never arrives. I hope my daughter isn’t with me if it does. Meanwhile, I plan for it as best I can.