Goal: Getting me shooting.
GB didn’t plan on taking me to an empty, indoor range, staffed by a female range officer for my first range experience, but it worked out that way. And I’m glad it did. The range officer was able to give us her undivided attention as I learned how to maneuver a loaded gun. GB was very patient and kind with me. The cool selection of targets and the closeness of the targets really made a difference for me. If he had taken me to one of the other two ranges we’ve shot at since for my first time, I’m not sure I would have taken to guns as well as I did. They’re dirty and full of trash, noisy, windy, full of men and their big toys, sell cheap and ugly targets, the target stands are far away from the shooting line, etc. What a great first time this trip was! It was so perfect, it’s nearly a romantic experience for me looking back on it.
From there, GB accompanied me to two other outdoor ranges. He always babysat me and made sure I didn’t feel scared, alone, frustrated, stupid and more importantly, didn’t do anything unsafe. He was always willing to pack it in and go when I had had enough, even though inside he wanted to shoot longer. But by making sure each of my experiences shooting were positive ones, even at a sacrifice for him, he was making a smart long-term investment in building me into a range buddy.
The final step in winning me over to shooting was when I decided to go to an Appleseed. I had to break in my two new Appleseed guns and GB and I didn’t have any days off together between then and the shoot, so I had to go to the range alone. I knew what I was doing, I had my gear, I knew when to ask for help from the range master. I knew guns. I knew shooting. Awesome! Then Appleseed itself polished me off as a shooter. Now I didn’t outshoot any of the experienced shooters there, but I did keep up. I did improve. I handled my gun and my gear solo.
Lying three days in the Nevada dirt from dawn till dusk with my rifle was the most intimate shooting experience I could have possibly had. That Monday sunset marked a transformation in my life. Although I did not score Rifleman, I became a Rifleman.