Friday, June 22, 2012

I call shotgun

When was it, two weekend ago? three? We took that long weekend away from the kids. I crossed off Kentucky. We spent part of that trip at one of those inclusive mountain resort places in the middle of Virginia. It had flyfishing and gorge hiking and ATVing and we had a flash-coupon package that included all the activities we wanted. So we hiked and canoed and tried archery and in the category of "when else might such a thing happen?" we went skeet shooting.

That means, basically, I got to walk around a mountaintop with a loaded shotgun.

So here's the thing: I'm really pacifist. Talking about war makes me super uncomfortable, even when I understand the political or humanitarian issues that put us in that war. I've never been in a fist fight. I'll defend your right to have (very securely locked away, unloaded, and unnoticeable by my small, curious children) guns but I don't want them in my home. I don't enjoy confrontation and the written word is my only real weapon of proficiency.

And then I got to carry around a heavy Beretta and two pocketsful of ammo and immediately, I felt (cover your ears if you are delicate): badass. There's no other way to say it.

 I never knew that shotguns are pretty.


"See the bird," my instructor told me. "See the bird, follow it with your barrel. Hold your cheek against the stock so your whole form is a part of the shotgun. Your arms move with it, with your face, with your eyes.

"Then pull the trigger."

It took me a few tries to figure out my timing, and then I hit clay after clay after clay. I pulverized those little orange disks. I didn't miss. I did far better than my sweet husband, who only cheered at my success.

I kept laughing. It was so much fun. I loved the concentration, the shotgun-as-Robin-as-elephant-trunk loping motion across my field of vision. I loved effortless success, and the way my body hugged into the shotgun instinctively to cradle the recoil. I wanted to yell "Squish!" every time another orange crumble fell to the grass. We used all our ammo, and with our activities-inclusive deal, just asked for more.

I didn't just feel badass, I felt BADASS-badass, and it wasn't about shooting a gun, although there is the side perk that I will forever now be able to say to you, "just so you know, I'm really good with a shotgun." Does that make sense?

The afternoon was a revelation. I am an excellent shot. I mean, really excellent. And if not for a why-not decision I might not have learned that. And it's entirely possible I will live the rest of my days never touching hands to a gun again, and that idea doesn't bring up any feelings of regret or longing. This was just a lark, one that turned out to be a ton of fun but hasn't changed my opinions on pacifism or weaponry or much of anything. It was just a really fun afternoon, and nothing more.

Except: I found out I have an acute skill in an area I wouldn't have expected to find one. I might have lived my whole life not knowing this about me, and that wouldn't have been a gain or a loss as regards shooting. But the idea fascinates me: what else don't I know at all about myself?

What other unknown skills are in me? What about you?

images by Erik Charlton

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