I just got back from a weekend in Ohio celebrating my Aunt Miriam’s 80th birthday. Naturally, the weekend was filled with all the usual stuff, like food and drink, music, and tons of relatives. But there was also a little bit of the unusual, at least for me. There were guns.
On Saturday, I went with 3 of my relatives to their 40-acre property in the woods, where, in addition to the woods, they have a picnic area, a lake, trailers for overnight stays, and a target range. We were there to use the target range and an assortment of my Cousin Ed’s handguns and rifles.
He could tell that I didn’t know the first thing about guns, so he loaded them for me, told me to pick one, gave me a set of earplugs, and pointed me towards the firing line. The last time I fired a weapon was on the rifle range in boot camp back in 1967, so I grabbed a rifle that looked closest to what I used back then.
I’ve read a lot of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher novels, so I knew a little something about marksmanship. I knew that, for greatest accuracy, you had to hold your breath when you pulled the trigger. I took in a big gulp of air, held my breath, sighted on the target and squeezed the trigger. I squeezed until I was turning blue from holding my breath, but no shots were fired.
Through my ear plugs, I heard the muffled scream of my cousin. “You have to take off the safety,” Ed said.
I didn’t know where the safety was or how to take it off, so he did that for me and handed the rifle back to me. I held my breath, sighted on the target, and squeezed the trigger.
Blam! The bullet raced towards the target, well at least in that general vicinity. A clump of dirt jumped into the air about 25 feet away from the target. I pulled the trigger again and caused more dirt to dance. I kept pulling the trigger until I was out of ammo. The target was still untouched.
Ed reloaded the rifle and went to the firing line.
Blam! Blam! Blam! Blam! Blam! Blam! Blam! Blam! Blam! Blam! And the target was turned into Swiss cheese.
My other two cousins fired off a couple rounds, and then Ed loaded a handgun for me. I fired the first shot and the gun recoiled upward as soon as I squeezed the trigger. I missed the target by a mile, but I scared every bird within two miles of the target. After a few more shots, I was able to somewhat control the upward swing of the gun, and I managed to make some more dirt dance.
Keeping the gun pointed at the target, I turned to my cousins behind me and said, “In all the excitement, I don’t know if I fired 6 or seven shots, so you’ve got to ask yourself, do you feel lucky. Well, do you punk?” They laughed and I emptied the clip and actually hit the target with one of my shots.
We took turns blasting off round after round at the targets. I saw that the shotgun had a lot more kick than the other weapons, so I passed on those rounds. I didn’t want to risk hurting my shoulder. There was a lot of weekend left and I needed my arm in good shape for all the beer I would have to lift.
After several hours of them blasting the targets and me blasting the dirt, we packed up the guns and headed back to Akron. It was my Cousin Barbi’s son’s birthday. Terrence turned 23 and a few of his friends were coming over to help him celebrate. A couple dozen relatives and a few dozen of his friends showed up and we partied. Around 4 a.m. the party was still going strong, but I was out of gas. I slipped off to the guest room, which was just above the garage where the music was blasting. The room was rocking.
Then I remember that I still had the earplugs from the firing range. I put them in and slept like a baby.
When I woke up my cousin Barbi was serving breakfast to all of Terrence’s friends who spent the night. She told me that the house rule was that her sons and their friends were allowed to party all they wanted but nobody was allowed to drive home. She was used to making breakfast for a small army of hungry college students. I joined in, and it was delicious.
I got invited back for Terrence’s graduation party next June. I hope I can get in a little target practice before then, so I don’t embarrass myself too much on the firing range. “A man’s got to know his limitations.”
Peace & Love, and all of the above,