After scaring myself into paralysis trying to decide whether I’d have time to pick up, load, and aim my gun if someone actually did break into my house late at night while I was half out of it from sleep, I decided on Day 5 that I really must start carrying it everywhere. This was serious. I couldn’t be fumbling around with my own self-defense tool while trying to defend myself.
I’m not a gun fanatic. I’m not “about” guns, and I’m not interested in getting into debates about guns, gun ownership, or gun rights, but I had an idea for an editorial that consumed me that day.
That evening after work, gun with me while writing a blog post, I was happy to find it wasn’t making me as nervous as it had been. I felt like we were “good.”
Then Ian came home, wanted to show me something gun-related, and put one of my loaded magazines right next to it.
“What?” he said when I looked at it. “Not ready to have them so close, yet?”
(They’d been separated by some kind of barrier since Sunday, when I brought everything home.)
“No. Not ready.”
I was pretty sure it was because I hadn’t shot it, yet. Having it be this mystery (a mystery that, for all I knew, could explode in my face the first time I used it), was, I figured, the final thing keeping me from fully embracing it.
“Okay,” he said. “I can show you without loading it.”
The first lesson (reminder: Ian had all kinds of weapon training in the Army) wasn’t one that would have been aided by having the gun loaded. It was “how to shoot without really aiming,” or “holding the gun close to your face and using the barrel, rather than the sights, as the guide.” The key was to use the body as a bracing element while both arms were bent to hold the gun close to the eye line in situations when it wouldn’t be practical to take the time to aim for the perfect shot. (See: any movie in which people walk through rooms with a handgun.)
I couldn’t quite figure out how to hold my arms. Or my body.
“You’re not supposed to duck down to the gun,” Ian said, raising my hands. “Stand normal and hold it higher, by where your face usually is.”
Once I got that part, he positioned my non-shooting arm so that it was braced against my body for support while my non-shooting hand cupped the bottom of the gun’s handle and my shooting hand.
“Then, when you sweep a room, you swing the support from side to side,” he said, demonstrating what it looks like to have the shooting arm supported by the body while the other is raised.
“That way feels funny,” I said.
I practiced doing it the normal way by putting the gun on the kitchen island, and then picking it up fast, holding it the way he’d taught me, and aiming at a picture on the wall in the living room.
“What are you doing?” he said, because I was doing what you see in the picture.
“I don’t know. Shut up!”
“Stand solid, and lean into it.”
We did this for a while, and then it was time for “what to do when you pull the trigger, but your gun doesn’t shoot.”
This was the demonstration that would have been been aided by bullets had I not wanted them to stay cozily where they were in the magazine, but he managed without them.
Next: Nervous gun ownership, Day 6 (coming soon)