Here is a fish out of water story starring me, a liberal wussy New York Jew, alongside an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle, A WWII era gun and a 9mm pistol.
A couple of weeks ago, I went to a shooting range in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. It was my friend Tim’s birthday. He enjoys guns. We celebrated his ongoing time on Earth by blowing up a small portion of it. (Yes, that’s an old Simpsons joke.)
The experience actually began the night before, inside Tim’s apartment. While I was watching the end of a college football game that I didn’t care about, he was preparing for the next morning. At one point, I looked down at the coffee table. It was covered in unloaded hand guns, 3 or 4 of them. There were a few rifles sitting in opened cases on the floor a few feet away. It looked like a scene from a movie, the scene right before one group of drug dealers storms the hideout of the other. But we were not planning a raid. We were just going to have some fun on a Sunday morning.
As we pulled up to the outdoor range, the biggest thing I saw was a Romney/Ryan banner outside the shack that served as the offices. We parked, unloaded the guns and ammo from the trunk and trudged up to the building. It was at this point that I was struck by a very important thought. I was definitely the only person at the gun range in a cashmere hoodie from Banana Republic. I suddenly became very nervous that the gun people would sniff me out as some sort of outsider who came into their world with less than pure intentions. And I couldn’t figure out if that’s what I was doing or not.
As far as I could tell, there were three employees. One sold us our licenses. He then explained the range’s safety precautions. I was happy to find out, there are a lot of safety precautions. No one is allowed to stand within 10 feet of their guns if there’s anyone in the entire place who intends to step out into the range area to collect their targets. There are a series of checks and rechecks and whistles to make sure these rules are followed. I felt safe.
I even felt safe when I was holding the guns and while that’s a testament to the staff of the gun range and to my friend, who calmly explained everything to me step by step, it’s also a major mind fuck. I looked through the telescopic sight on the AR-15 and pulled the trigger. Then I did it again. And again. and again. And I actually hit the bullseye a few time. It was so EASY. That’s what caused me the most mental distress.
A gun is a lethal weapon. I feel like there should be some physical price to be paid by the person who pulls the trigger. The kickback should have bruised my shoulder. The vibrations should have hurt my hands. I should have burned my fingertips. None of that happened. I can now say with certainty that it hurts worse to hit a foul ball in cold weather than it does to fire a high powered rifle.
At one point, I asked someone to take a picture of me shooting the rifle. At this point, the range employee came running over and asked us to stop. Stop snapping pictures, not stop shooting rifles. Turns out, the range has a no cellphone/ no camera policy. They say it’s because people show up to purposely break the law, have someone else take a picture then report the range to the authorities. So, there is no photographic evidence of my adventure. FUCKING LIBERALS!!
The WWII rifle and the hand gun were harder to aim but no harder to shoot. In all, we spent about two hours at the range. I probably fired about 50 shots.
I didn’t love the experience. But I also didn’t hate it. I would not volunteer it as an activity, but if someone else suggested it, I wouldn’t immediately refuse. The gun people were perfectly nice. It didn’t feel like I was at a scary militia meeting.
But the one question I still can’t answer is this: What’s the end goal? If you go to the gun range every day and get really good at shooting, what’s the benefit? Is it to impress your friends? Is it to enter competitions? I don’t think it’s either. Unfortunately, I think, at it’s basest level, the point of getting really good at shooting is, if god forbid something horrible happens, you will be able to kill another human being.
All in all, I might prefer to do something else with my Sunday morning.
Former Olympic Marathoner and SI Senior Writer Kenny Moore discusses the controversy over the delayed cancellation ofthe New York City Marathon in the days after Hurricane Sandy. And while he handles the issue correctly for the most part, I feel he’s reaching a bit when he tries to argue an equivalency between the race and the Giants/ Steelers game which was played that Sunday at Metlife stadium. The football game was a self contained event away from major population centers that caused only minor traffic problems in northern New Jersey. The marathon would have closed bridges at a time when traveling through New York City was already more difficult than usual. But more importantly, the Giants (and NFL football in general) are an important part of life in the greater New York area and millions of it’s residents. At it’s best, the NYC marathon is a pleasant distraction on a nice Sunday in the fall. At it’s worst, its a pain in the ass traffic tie up that’s enjoyed by a few thousand runners and their supporters. And its forgotten a day later. The Giants are not essential to life in New York. But they’re a hell of a lot more important than a marathon.
It’s Getting A Little Offensive by Austin Murphy
What do we take away from this article about the Chicago Bears? Their offense isn’t great? The defense is carrying the franchise? Their stars are all kind of dickish? I don’t know if that’s enough. Also, how can you have an article that references an American Tourister commercial from the 1970’s and GIF’s? The audiences for those two references don’t intermingle very easily.
The Big Chill by Seth Davis
Davis profiles pre-season All America Cody Zeller, who is very good at basketball but has a calm and likable demeanor. That’s ok, but let’s talk about the Indiana warm-ups, which I think are the best throwback uniforms in all of sports. I hope the school never even think about getting rid of them.
Future Game Changers by SI Staff
SI picks out the players who will make you look smart when you pick mid-majors to upset powerhouses in your NCAA tournament office pool in March. Thanks, SI!
Scouting Reports by SI Staff
I can’t complain about the way SI laid out the team previews. Each school comes with a story and some basic stats. That’s more than enough to get casual readers ready for the college basketball season.
The New Big Wheel in Knoxville by Kelli Anderson
It’s a little disjointed to have the team scouting reports come in the middle of the college basketball preview issue instead of at the end. I was not expecting more articles. But, here’s Anderson’s profile of Holly Warlick, who is replacing Pat Summit as Tennessee women’s basketball coach. Warlick has been on the staff at UT for nearly 30 years and is already in the women’s college basketball hall of fame. There won’t be that much of a transition. While we learned a lot about Warlick’s experience as a player and coach, we learn very little about her as a person. Is that by design?
To Survive You Must Evolve by Alexander Wolff
This is a great article about the evolution of the college (and pro) game from a Center dominated one to one that’s led by backcourt players. I like history.
The Past Was Fast by Luke Winn
Winn writes about a 1990 game between LSU and Loyola Marymount which ended with a final score of 148-141. It certainly would have been a fun game to watch, and Winn’s writing style makes me want to go online and look for Youtube clips. But, how did Shaq only score 20 points? HE’S SHAQ!
Point After by Phil Taylor
It’s dumb to suggest that the T-Wolves loaded their roster with white people to attract white fans. What is this? Boston in the 80’s?