Educational Outing to the Gun Range

I didn’t grow up with guns in the house, or hunting, or target shooting or with a fear that I needed one for self defense.

Although at the age of 8, I remember going with friends to a huge field at the end of our street to shoot cans with a BB gun. That was actually a lot of fun, and I remember being a pretty good shot for a first-timer. Pew! Pew!

That same day, my friend decided to invite a bunch of us over to his house in order to have a mini hunt in his backyard to see if we could find any small animals to shoot. He was thinking birds and squirrels would be small easy targets, and he said we could all take turns. I remember thinking that was a horrible idea, and I felt rather uncomfortable. In the end, I passed on the opportunity, and just sat back as the other kids took their turns eyeing small birds in the trees.

My friend actually succeeded knocking a bird to the ground after a few shots, and we all ran over to see what the outcome was. It was a little sparrow, definitely dead, with a BB stuck right where his eye should have been. I remember we were shocked at how great a shot that was — fluke or otherwise — and we all shared our “Awesome!”‘s and “Whoa! Coooooool!”‘s but it was a little off-putting to see that little guy with a BB stuck to the side of his head, but there it was. I think I secretly wished I had made that shot, oh well.

That’s my earliest recollection of using a gun, and to this day I’ve never really had a desire to own or shoot one. I’ve fired various kinds of guns throughout the years — once while deer hunting with friends — but the thrill of ownership just never stuck.

Fast forward to today, where I have two young boys with a penchant for guns and fast cars :)

As a fan of self-education and learning anything about everything, I decided to take Mr. S and Mr. T on an educational outing to the local gun range. I thought we’d take the opportunity to educate ourselves in gun safety, and experience a little target shooting while we were at it.

The Florida Firearm Academy of Tampa happened to be a 5 minute bike ride away, and we took off after lunch. We were hoping to avoid any crazy crowds by going during the week, and I’m pretty sure the plan worked — the range was pretty empty, and we had zero issues working with someone as soon as we walked in. That, or they just weren’t a popular destination. Either way, the timing worked out great.

I was only interested in using pistols this time out, so we were given a Ruger 22 and 50 rounds of ammo to start. After we were shown how to handle and load the gun, we made our way to the indoor range.

When we entered, the guy who hands out ear and eye protection asked if we had the Ruger, and proceeded to tell us we might have some seizing issues with the ammo we were given. Yeah! I wasn’t quite what to make of that knowledge, but we were told to go ahead and use it, and come back if we experienced any problems.

Suffice it to say, we did experience issues with the gun jamming every few shots, and after having two employees take a shot — heh! — at rectifying the problem, they asked if we’d like to swap it out for something else. I told them I was fine with anything they recommendeded as long as it was a pistol, so the brought back a Smith & Wesson revolver. It was a bit of a visual disappointment, and much smaller, but it was a different experience, so we were fine given this was our first outing.

As a side note, we had a guy join us in the range who ended up firing a 12 gauge shotgun right next us for a few rounds – LOUD NOISES! We had to go out and double our ear protection, it was so loud and thunderous in the cavern they called an indoor range.

I’m a little bummed that Mr. S didn’t get to try the Ruger though, as it was a semi-automatic, and was much easier to fire. He struggled quite a bit with pulling the trigger on the revolver, but in the end, both he and Mr. T had fun, and hope to go again.


2 replies on “Educational Outing to the Gun Range”

I’m jealous. What a great experience for dad and the boys. Familiarity with guns is paramount to safety. I’ve never been at a range that let shotgunners shoot with handgunners…that HAD to be loud. I shot at a range here when the guy in the booth next to me was using +P ammo (extra powerful) in his .40 cal. semi. All his ejected cases came flying OVER the partition showering me with brass and the reports from his gun were deafening even with my muffs on.
Too bad they gave you a hammerless S&W. Double action is difficult for even experienced shooters. Rugers are usually very reliable, but they are making thin-wall aluminum casings for a lot of ammo now that does not extract well from semi-auto guns. The extractor just won’t grip the softer metal like it does the good old brass casings.

Yep, the revolver was a struggle for him, but he was able to get quite a few rounds before tiring out his hand :)

And they had two different ranges, so I was surprised they didn’t separate folks according to what they were shooting. As we were leaving, a guy was entering the opposite range holding a huge machine gun – an M4? – we could hear his shots outside as we were leaving. Crazy loud.

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