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Our church had a youth activity a couple of nights ago at Elm Fork Shooting Range. I decided to exercise my newfound “journalistic privilege” to go along for the ride. Besides, what good Christian wouldn’t want to go to a gun range?

Elm Fork is within Dallas city limits. Coulda fooled me. Apart from the occasional skyscraper, the place was as rural as it gets. In fact, it was stereotypical backwoods Texas, with the flatness, the tan grasses, and the patches of trees. It was a beautiful place to go shooting.

My personal experience with firearms is not particularly extensive. In other words, not as extensive as I’d like it to be, but whose is?. I’ve used handguns, rifles and even a submachine gun once. Triste dictu, last night was my first time using a shotgun. Or, for that matter, shooting at a moving target, specifically a clay pigeon.

As Roy Hill pointed out, .22s are pussycats, made for casual can-plinking. All but the smallest shotguns have serious recoil, putting the difficulty of hitting something on a different level.

The guns we used were gas-operated semiautomatic shotguns in the 12-gauge and 20-gauge variety. They were extraordinarily low-kick, so low, in fact, that one of the instructors claimed to be able to shoot two 20-gauges at the same time, one in each arm. I was astonished, because the feat seems more like the stuff of Hollywood than reality. He never actually showed us, which is a shame. That would have been really awesome to see.

They had us use some four 20-gauges and one only one 12-gauge, because we had both boys and girls, ranging from 12-17. I naturally gravitated to the 12-gauge. Unfortunately, I couldn’t even match my own grandmother: I missed my first pigeon. In fact, I missed my first two. In total, out of eight, I ended up with five hits, hitting all of my last four in a row.

The satisfaction from seeing those orange discs explode is undeniable (and probably disproportionate), amplified by the instructor’s laugh, which reminded me of Mythbusters’ Adam Savage. My only regret was not shooting more.

As for religious instruction, there was nothing overt. Just the sound of man-made thunder, and yet another lesson about man’s eternal struggle for self-control.

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