By H.L. Harris
Part two of my journey into gun ownership (see: A Newbie’s Tale from Texas) brought me to South Austin. When RF told me to meet the TTAG team at a gun range, I imagined something like a bowling ally minus the disco ball and the smell of stale feet. The Range at Austin — still under construction — is the Taj Mahal of gun ranges.
The facility boasts fifty thousand square feet of sales, range and classroom space. Not to mention the second floor VIP range, complete with walk-in humidor, machine gun rentals and the latest Action Target system. Yup, everything really is bigger in Texas.
After schmoozing for the camera, it was time to get to work. Before I could touch any firearms Nick taught me the Four Rules of Gun Safety. Never point the gun at anything I don’t mean to destroy (ex-husbands included); keep my finger off the trigger until I’m ready to fire; treat all guns as if they’re like small town Texans on a Saturday night (i.e., loaded) and know what the heck I’m shooting at and what’s behind it.
Donning the appropriate gear — hat, safety glasses and ear protection– I got the distinct feeling I wasn’t in Kansas anymore. As we entered the otherwise empty range, I thought I was about to get to grips with some handguns. Nope. Nick proudly proffered a Brethren Armament MP5 with a B&T stock and an ACC Ti Rant 9 silencer. Like most of the gun-lingo the TTAG guys used, it sounded like Nick ate the alphabet and threw it back up.
There was nothing nauseating about the MP5. She was a beauty: completely matte black and lightweight– featherweight, even. Nick told me he liked to start newbies on rifles, to ease them into the whole recoil, noise and OMG it shoots a bullet thing. I had a little long gun experience for comparison. The B&T was the easiest and softest shooting rifle I’ve ever fired.
Nick’s fiancé loves to shoot the B&T because of its gentle recoil, stopping power and relatively quiet sonic signature. The rifle fit perfectly into my shoulder. When I looked down the sights to line-up the three white dots, I felt a rush of excitement zing through my fingers. After firing off three or four rounds, I didn’t want to give Nick his gun back. I wanted it tucked in next to my bed for home defense. What’s a tax stamp?
Dan stepped forward and handed me a brand new 9mm Remington RP9. Thank you Dan. Nick showed how to handle the gun properly, encouraging me not to hold it like a snake. Once I had my hands positioned correctly, it was time to work on my stance. Lean forward, weight on the balls of my feet, knees and elbows slightly bent.
It took forever to muster the courage to pull the Remington’s trigger, I admit I had trouble not squeezing my eyes shut when I finally took the shot. OK, I probably shut my eyes. The gun’s power took me by surprise. The recoil was, in my opinion, impressive (a positive way of saying scary). My hand jerked back so far that the gun was almost pointing at the ceiling. “Whooooa!!!” is all I could say. The three TTAG fellas nodded their heads at my shock and awe. Nick showed me how to steady my hands to reduce the recoil of the next shot.
After popping off a few rounds of 9mm, Robert pulled out his “big gun”: a .45 caliber Cabot Guns S103 1911. A giant name for a giant gun. [ED: RF’s Cabot is Commander-sized.] The bullets seemed as big as Coke bottles. My arm tired as I held it up to aim. The boom and recoil went straight through my body. I put the gun down and declared I’d had enough shooting for the day.
Robert and the guys encouraged me to give it another go, reminding me that as long as I follow the rules of gun safety, I would always be OK. I fired off two or three more shots and felt invigorated. There was no doubt in my mind that the Cabot would heavily discourage an assailant. I wouldn’t want to own anything quite so powerful. Yet.
I came away from my second exposure to self-defense firearms feeling better educated — and slightly more badass. RF offered to lend me a gun ’til our next session, but I don’t feel comfortable enough. We shall see what the TTAG team has in store for me next . . .