The Shooting Lesson

I made it back.  Thanksgiving weekend was mostly a success.  There are always going to be some points of strife when family gets together, but on the whole it was peaceful.  I needed that.

In this case, peace was earned.

In my family, there are two things required to achieve adulthood in my family: you must be able to drive a standard transmission, and you must know how to grill.  I proved these points a long time ago, but that wasn’t enough.  There’s a third, unwritten rule that’s a result of growing up in the country: you must know how to shoot.  Before I go any further, let’s backtrack a bit.  My early years were in the city before we moved to the country.  Mom is from a military family and never shot a gun herself until we moved to the sticks.  Likewise, Dad grew up in a small town, but not country, so he never had a weapon until I was nearly a teen.  And yet… this idea that I need to shoot something was a thing.  Makes no sense.  I learned how to shoot when I was six because Mom’s side of the family was all military and/or country.  I learned to shoot (pistols, rifles, and bows), ride a horse, etc., all before I was 10 years old.  So fast forward… I’m in my mid-40s, and all this time Dad’s been giving me hell, partly because it’s programmed into him to do so, and partly because I’m a swordfighter.  Keep in mind, for him, there is no history before 1776.  Swords are decorative, and any use of any blade means you didn’t pack enough ammo.  Yeah, he’s one of those types.  There’s no helping it.

Well, Dad’s been getting in some basic target practice recently because he’s got a lot of wild hogs that come in the middle of the night and tear things up, sometimes thousands of dollars worth in less than 15 seconds.  They’re smart, they’re fast, and there’s very little out there that they fear.  We’ve got coyotes and bobcats out there, and those are afraid of the hogs.  I didn’t know this, but apparently this hog destruction is epidemic in Texas the last few years.  He’s put up traps (which they avoid) and is in the process of researching fencing options for his property, but in the meantime, there’s very little else he can do against them other than treat them as the destructive invaders they are.

Anyway, Dad’s nagging me to learn to shoot, and honestly, I don’t give a damn when it comes to firearms.  I really don’t.  I don’t hate guns, I’m just apathetic towards them.  Mostly I tend to dislike the people who worship them, much like with motorcycles and obnoxiously cars and trucks, or pretty much anything else where loud noise triggers my sensory processing disorder, and any activity mixed with alcohol tends to create a bad day for everyone.  Like with anything, the right tool for the right job, and in the country, there will be a time when you need a weapon, like it or not.  In the city… you shouldn’t need one, but arguments can certainly be made.  I won’t get into it here.  Anyway, the point is I don’t care about target practice, but I capitulate.  When Dad gets on a tear about something, it’s put up or shut up.  The whole time we’re getting prepared, he’s treating me as though I’ve never handled any kind of weapon before, let alone a gun.  It’s just embarrassing, really, like he’s talking to 6-year-old me.  He’s walking me through ear protection necessity; I already have a variety of options for the very best ear protection money can buy (which I keep with me at all times), so you can see how the rest of this is a downhill slide after I point out his headphones are a bit of a joke with a rating of 22 Db, whereas my earplugs are rated at 33.  He ignores me because I clearly have no knowledge of sound dampening.  Clearly.  His latest semi-auto has a night vision scope on it (because he can’t see at all in the dark to fire at hogs), so I can see this isn’t going to be a big deal.  I learned the old-fashioned way, you see.  Granted, it’s been years, but there’s virtually nothing difficult about using a scope.  After I listen to him go on and on about safety and how to properly use a rifle, he fires once into this box we’ve set up as a makeshift target because I clearly need some kind of demonstration.  Then he reluctantly hands me the rifle as though it’s made of nitroglycerin, which honestly isn’t a bad way to go about it.  Always respect a weapon.  Always.  I calmly take the rifle, take aim, and fire off three rounds.  In the pic, you can see the round he fired next to the scope.  My three are in the blue area in the corner.

At this point, I turn the safety back on and hand it back to him.  No words, just a raised eyebrow, and then I walk back into the house to make some coffee.  The reason I took the pic in the first place was not to show off here, but so that I have it on hand for the next time he decides to give me grief about being a swordfighter.  I can never seem to explain that I swordfight not for the sake of fighting, but for the historical insight it provides, to say nothing of the fact that it’s just good exercise.  Historical martial arts are still martial arts, and all that implies.

Meanwhile, in my own neighborhood back home… a five-hour gunfight ensued earlier that week a mere two blocks from my house, with no-show from the police, but they arrived 10 minutes after someone lit some firecrackers.  *eyeroll*

All this to say… the world is just messed up.  I don’t need to tell you this.  It did, however, get me to thinking about the lifestyle I can afford and the cultures my life intersects.  It seems like no matter where I go, the prevailing attitude is that when you have a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.  This is the sort of thing I want to change.  Gandhi once said that we need to be the change we wish to see in the world.  In this regard, I think I’m already doing this.  I set that example.  I don’t know what else to do in this regard.  I don’t own firearms, nor do I want any.  My usual response in my own neighborhood when people threaten me with something like that is to scoff and say with boredom and disappointment, “Oh, you need a gun.  I’m sorry your dick is broken.”  Or some variation on that theme.  And then I walk off because anything further would just degenerate into exactly the sort of showdown nobody wants.  It’s like that old Zen parable about, “If you give me a gift, and I refuse it, to whom does it belong?”  Anger management works the same way, and that’s kind of a work in progress for me.  It’s why I’m so aware when it comes to weapons and the people who choose to use them.  There are three things you never want anywhere near a weapon: alcohol, anger, and attitude.  A weapon should ultimately be an extension of the person wielding it, and that person should be as centered as possible before picking it up in the first place.  Ideally, it should be there for true necessity, but clearly there is no real need for swords in the world today either, so who am I to talk?

I have no answers here.  It’s just that I’ve been dwelling on this topic the last few days, and I needed to get it off my chest.  Maybe this will lead to better insight later.

6 thoughts on “The Shooting Lesson

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