I’m back at the range and this time I brought backup.
Dan, my husband, is with me. It turns out if you don’t actually own a gun you can’t pop in and rent one without a friend. Too many solo people came in, rented, and killed themselves on the spot. I’m not sure how many did this nationwide, but one is probably too many. An awful situation with a practical solution – bring a buddy.
I’m all too happy to have Dan with me anyway. In addition to being good company, he grew up shooting. While I’m fresh off of my intro class it was only three hours in length. I’m pretty sure MI6 standards are more rigorous. My objective today is to try out some different sub-compact guns and find one that suits me. Since my initial class I’ve been doing a fair amount of reading and a number of the more advanced classes I intend on taking require a concealed carry permit. So much for finding them ridiculous. To be clear, I have no intention on actually carrying, concealed or otherwise, but the process in and of itself should make for a good post. Additionally, I’m pretty sure I’ll be the only one in my social circle to have one. And while this might earn me a gasp at a dinner party I’m not sure it’s something I want to broadcast. Save, apparently, for writing about it on the Internet.
Upon arrival we headed straight to the rental area past the shop. The bronze membership was free with my initial lesson, but doesn’t actually save me any money. I suspect the main advantage of requiring membership is that the range can claim that it’s private and that affords them more latitude should they not want a certain patron. I’m speculating on that however.
While Dan heads down to sign the mother of all waivers I take a look under the ample display case. There are plenty of rental options to choose from and they all look well maintained. This is no surprise. As I stated in my last post, I’m at the Nordstrom’s of gun ranges. And I just asked to see the equivalent of a tasteful Cole Hann in black. Tattooed to high heaven, but otherwise clean cut, the staffer behind the counter was very helpful. I let him know I want to try out three or four different carry-friendly pistols. He, not surprisingly, had some recommendations.
I start with a Beretta as it’s a familiar name, sexy, and, of course Italian. I’m handed a gun rug, a clip, and the weapon. The tab starts to mount when I realize the cost of ammunition for a 9mm coupled with the fact that I need to rent eye protection and headphones for Dan and I in addition to lane time, targets, and a guest fee. I pass on the zombi and Nazi targets, a price premium, and opt for the standard target – it looks easier to measure over time. And I have a suspicion my penchant for charts at work just might bleed over into my secret agent training. Since Dan is less than tickled with this Saturday sojourn this isn’t going on our joint checking card – this tab is all me.
I make sure our hearing protection is on and we make our way to an open lane. I’m pleased to see that we are in a bay reserved for bronze members and that there’s an attendant watching. And he’s not just sitting there staring at an iPhone. He’s friendly and proactive; offering pointers and tips to those firing. This I get to learn first hand when I ‘stovepipe’ my Beretta on the very first shot. Seriously? I bet this never happened to Bond.
Stove-piping is essentially a gun jam. Learning these little bits of jargon are part of the fuel that makes a new hobby interesting to me. That and abundance of interesting gear. And there’s certainly no shortage of gear. I set my jammed gun down and ask, sheepishly, for help. That’s the nice thing about the West Coast Armory (WCA), everyone is so damn friendly and good natured I’m not paralyzed at the prospect of asking for help. The attendant fixes the problem, shows me what likely caused it, (my grip) and offers up a big smile and encouragement. I swear WCA is either importing these guys from the Midwest or only hiring Mormons. Everyone is so damn nice. Perhaps this is a result of some paradoxical affliction wherein those carrying devices designed to kill are just super nice? Having grown up in the town of the ‘Seattle freeze’ I find abject friendliness and big smiles a source of initial suspicion. Will my new hobby change me?
The Beretta, while sexy, doesn’t deliver on the ergonomic scale. While it doesn’t feel wrong, it doesn’t feel right either. I burn through a box of cartridges quickly and manage to place a few shots on target. Since each box costs about $16, I’m not about to spend any more on this option. I eject the magazine, lock back the slide as instructed (making it obvious the gun is not in a firing position), and close up the rug to return to the rental counter. Maybe something American?
The Ruger SR9c catches my eye. It has a nickel slide and black handle. While not as lean as the Beretta it has a masculine sexiness about it. Once in the bay I can feel the chemistry. It’s *just right* in my hand. While my reference points are low, I make a mental note that, thus far, the Ruger is in the the pole position. My shots are similarly placed – veering a bit left. This is not to be unexpected as I’m a South paw.
I finish fifty rounds in quick order and head back out to try a third and final gun for the day. There won’t be a fourth. I can read the thought bubble over Dan’s head and it says “obligation.” We are only three months from our wedding vows and I don’t think he was mentally prepared for my gun phase. He’s a trooper.
The third option perplexes me for a bit. The Heckler and Koch? That’s a great name, it reminds me of the cranks in the Muppet Show balcony. The attendant is being helpful of course, but shortly another customer interjects. An older and bossy Russian gentlemen. I try not to think about Red Dawn while he inserts himself into my selection process. He decides I must shoot the Glock. Since I want the sub-compact apparently I’ll be shooting the ‘Baby Glock.’ And with that morsel of information any sense of machismo exits the building.
I shot a Glock during my class, but that, apparently, was the grown-up edition. They are incredibly well regarded… maybe I should try another? When the attendant moves my drivers license from the Ruger to the now empty slot for the Glock he stifles a wry smile. I think he’s seen this movie before. “Give him the big clip. He need extended clip.” Since I can’t type an accent I’ll give you a film reference. John Malkovich in Rounders (side note – go rent this movie).
I make my way back to the range. While the Glock performs adequately we still don’t have much of a connection. At this point, I’m leaning pretty heavily toward buying the Ruger, but want to do some online research first. And, on that note, am I really buying a handgun? I knew I would need some training as part of this effort, but I never seriously thought I would own one. I’m only four posts in and I’m a prospective handgun owner.
I wonder what other surprises are in store.