In which I wait in line for two hours to shoot a machine gun

ShebangI’m not a gun person. Not even a little bit. I was terrified the first time I shot one, so I shot a whole bunch in order to get over that. I worked on my aim a little over the summer with a trip to the Linden Sportsmen’s Club with the guys in my husband’s family and found that I’m terrible with a pistol, but fairly good, thank you, with a rifle with a scope.  Even with that bit of practice under my belt though, and my brother (a licensed firearms instructor and gun collector) behind me, I was still a little shaky when I took the Tommy gun at the Knob Creek Machine Gun Shoot.

Clearly the worker assigned to me was apprehensive about me as well, a tiny speck of pink in a sea of large and heavily armed men, as he took the gun away, explained how to stand, handed it back and told me where the trigger was. I may be wearing pink, I wanted to say, but I’m not a dumb girl. I know where the trigger is, I just don’t want to put my finger near it on a MACHINE GUN until I’m ready to fire. [Technically I shot a submachine gun, but whatevs]

I shot with some trepidation at first, then found it wasn’t so scary after all; in fact was kind of fun blasting away at a car, boat, washing machine and drinking fountain out on the range (even though I had no clue if I was hitting my targets). So I fired away for a moment,  then wondered what the heck was wrong with the weapon. It wasn’t shooting anymore.

Turns out 40 rounds go extremely fast in an automatic. At $40 to rent it, that was the most expensive per-second entertainment of my life. But the adrenaline jolt was in line with the ticket price – my hands shook and my heart raced as I left the range.

I can’t speak to everyone else’s motivation for waiting in line to shoot a crazy-ass gun. But for me, shooting isn’t so much about learning the sport of target shooting as it is about facing fear. Guns scare me.  A lot. And I guess there’s not a scarier gun than a machine gun.

Walking the line between fear and adrenaline draws me to other sports; rock climbing, white water kayaking, and every time I find I can face a fear, I feel that much more equipped to take on the next challenge.

The Tommy gun was a favored weapon among Chicago mobsters in the 1920s, though it was originally developed with the ambition of helping end WWI. Read more

And bonus! I’m also now equipped to document my adventures in a new way – video. Thanks to the super cool people at GoPro, I can now record this quest to share in living color. I’m still learning how to use it (and the Mac and iMovie I got to edit) but I foresee a LOT of fun with my new tiny and amazing camera.


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