Annie Oakley Is Back!

 

Well, the title is sort of true. My husband began calling me Annie Oakley after my early performance on the gun range, and my trainer enjoyed calling me Annie just to tease Jerry about my prowess. For some crazy reason, I’ve always had a certain level of skill. So, what’s the big deal for me? I hadn’t been to the gun range since the end of last year, after I received my cancer diagnosis.

Jerry has been very patient with preparing me to shoot again. We also both have concealed carry licenses here in Florida, and more than just the idea of getting ready to shoot the gun again, being prepared for the unexpected, has always made me a little anxious. And I knew I had to deal with the question of carrying all over again.

Since for a period I wasn’t very strong, Jerry took his time coaxing me back into shooting. He suggested eventually that I use the snap caps and just practice taking my weapon, a Glock 42, out of my purse properly. (I did not want to wear my gun on a belt.) You wouldn’t think that was a big deal, but there are so many steps to focus on when you carry: practicing situational awareness, putting my right hand on the gun in my purse, not drawing until I feel there is reason to use the gun, bringing the gun out, racking the gun to put a bullet in the chamber (yes, I know that some people always have one in the chamber), bringing the gun up to my chest and grasping it with both hands, leaning forward, putting my finger on the trigger when I’m prepared to actually shoot, aim, and pull the trigger, bring the gun back to my chest, look around both ways to see if anyone else might be a threat, and put the gun away.

I told you it was complicated.

Anyway, I was not consistent with my practicing, which just validated my reticence. But eventually, I got into a routine for a couple of weeks. We decided it was time to go to the range.

I don’t think the real Annie Oakley would have been such a wuss!

When we drove into the small parking lot of the gun shop, I immediately settled down. I always felt comfortable there, knowing everyone I encountered was in concert with my beliefs about gun ownership and freedom. Jerry removed our guns from the trunk of the car, and he gave me a couple of targets and we headed for the front door.

Another good sign would be if I saw my gun instructor in the shop. He had given us both lessons, educated me on concealed carry, and was delighted to see how well I handled a gun. We are about the same age, but I probably look like the little old lady from Pasadena compared to most women who come in regularly.

As we entered the shop, lo and behold, there was John my instructor, and when he saw us he called out, “Where ya been?” It was so sweet to be recognized. As he came up to us, I told him I’d been sidetracked with cancer, and he said, “Me too!” They’d caught his prostate cancer early and he was doing great. Just one more way to connect with a gun-totin’ person.

So we went out to the range and got out our stuff. The range is small, maybe 10 slots at the most; we stand indoors, but we shoot outdoors. It’s like shooting a gun in your backyard.

Now was the true test: was Annie a flop, or did I still have it?

I actually did pretty well and had a great time.

*     *     *     *     *

Returning to the gun range was a blessing in many ways. First, whatever resistance I had has disappeared. Second, I was thrilled to see that I’d retained some of my skills, including attention to gun safety. Third, during a time where I’ve felt vulnerable and not at full strength, I felt strong and empowered.

It was a good day.

And Annie Oakley is back!

*     *     *     *

I wrote this post in part to encourage those who are unwilling to own guns or carry to reconsider. Conditions in our country may get worse before they get better.

You want to be prepared. So those of you gun owners who have any thoughts on gun ownership, feel free to comment!

Published in Guns
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  1. Rodin Member
    Rodin
    @Rodin

    You inspire me to get back. Since our move getting the guns out and getting a CCP in Tennessee has been a deferred goal.

    • #1
  2. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Rodin (View Comment):

    You inspire me to get back. Since our move getting the guns out and getting a CCP in Tennessee has been a deferred goal.

    I think others have probably gotten away from practicing because of the idiotic lockdowns. Time to get back to practicing!

    • #2
  3. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Susan Quinn:

    You wouldn’t think that was a big deal, but there are so many steps to focus on when you carry: practicing situational awareness, putting my right hand on the gun in my purse, not drawing until I feel there is reason to use the gun, bringing the gun out, racking the gun to put a bullet in the chamber (yes, I know that some people always have one in the chamber), bringing the gun up to my chest and grasping it with both hands, leaning forward, putting my finger on the trigger when I’m prepared to actually shoot, aim, and pull the trigger, bring the gun back to my chest, look around both ways to see if anyone else might be a threat, and put the gun away.

     

     

    • #3
  4. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Percival (View Comment):

    You wouldn’t think that was a big deal, but there are so many steps to focus on when you carry: practicing situational awareness, putting my right hand on the gun in my purse, not drawing until I feel there is reason to use the gun, bringing the gun out, racking the gun to put a bullet in the chamber (yes, I know that some people always have one in the chamber), bringing the gun up to my chest and grasping it with both hands, leaning forward, putting my finger on the trigger when I’m prepared to actually shoot, aim, and pull the trigger, bring the gun back to my chest, look around both ways to see if anyone else might be a threat, and put the gun away.

     

    Thanks so much, Percival. That brings a big smile to my face!

    • #4
  5. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Susan Quinn: yes, I know that some people always have one in the chamber

    EDIT: That’s the safest way to do it.

    Don’t be Alec Baldwin. You’ll know the gun isn’t loaded after you’ve checked to see if the gun is loaded.

    There was a family legend that the rifle over the hearth last used by great-great-great-grandfather Abraham wasn’t safe to handle because ol’ Abe kept it loaded. Finally, in my grandfather’s day, someone took it to a gunsmith who – with great care – a bullet puller down the barrel and extracted the bullet that had been there for at least 130 years.

    • #5
  6. Muleskinner, Weasel Wrangler Member
    Muleskinner, Weasel Wrangler
    @Muleskinner

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Rodin (View Comment):

    You inspire me to get back. Since our move getting the guns out and getting a CCP in Tennessee has been a deferred goal.

    I think others have probably gotten away from practicing because of the idiotic lockdowns. Time to get back to practicing!

    At my local range, the continued mask mandates have been largely ignored (They put up the mandatory signage, with a homemade sign below it that says essentially, we trust you to be responsible.) Everyone there is smiling, men and women, all races, enjoying a common interest. So it is about the happiest place I know these days.

    • #6
  7. Headedwest Coolidge
    Headedwest
    @Headedwest

    Good for you! 

    • #7
  8. Douglas Pratt Coolidge
    Douglas Pratt
    @DouglasPratt

    All RIGHT! I trust you saved your brass.

    • #8
  9. Barfly Member
    Barfly
    @Barfly

    Man, I love range day. I’m taking a couple days off after Thanksgiving – going camping and taking about 500 rounds of .22LR.

    Susan Quinn:

    I wrote this post in part to encourage those who are unwilling to own guns or carry to reconsider. Conditions in our country may get worse before they get better.

    You want to be prepared. So those of you gun owners who have any thoughts on gun ownership, feel free to comment!

    Arm yourselves, citizens. Hope you never have to use it, but if good people aren’t ready then bad people will carry the day.

    Annie, you rock. 

    • #9
  10. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Barfly (View Comment):

    Man, I love range day. I’m taking a couple days off after Thanksgiving – going camping and taking about 500 rounds of .22LR.

    Susan Quinn:

    I wrote this post in part to encourage those who are unwilling to own guns or carry to reconsider. Conditions in our country may get worse before they get better.

    You want to be prepared. So those of you gun owners who have any thoughts on gun ownership, feel free to comment!

    Arm yourselves, citizens. Hope you never have to use it, but if good people aren’t ready then bad people will carry the day.

    Annie, you rock.

    Thanks, @barfly, especially your encouragement to people to take gun ownership seriously. Hopefully we never have to use our weapons anywhere but the range, but we need to be prepared!

    • #10
  11. EHerring Coolidge
    EHerring
    @EHerring

    There is something neat about shooting. Perhaps my brain sweeps out the trash to concentrate on the task at hand. I haven’t been in a while, mostly because of the ammo shortage. Yes, I have ammo, but am worried about replacing what I shoot. I have a laser target I use at home. Good for you. 

    • #11
  12. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    EHerring (View Comment):

    There is something neat about shooting. Perhaps my brain sweeps out the trash to concentrate on the task at hand. I haven’t been in a while, mostly because of the ammo shortage. Yes, I have ammo, but am worried about replacing what I shoot. I have a laser target I use at home. Good for you.

    Ammo replacement is a big deal; how that factors in to the frequency of our practice is hard to say at this moment. Shooting is a great exercise in focus and paying attention, isn’t it? At least you’re using the laser target. Let’s hope the shortages let up sooner rather than later!

    • #12
  13. Barfly Member
    Barfly
    @Barfly

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    EHerring (View Comment):

    There is something neat about shooting. Perhaps my brain sweeps out the trash to concentrate on the task at hand. I haven’t been in a while, mostly because of the ammo shortage. Yes, I have ammo, but am worried about replacing what I shoot. I have a laser target I use at home. Good for you.

    Ammo replacement is a big deal; how that factors in to the frequency of our practice is hard to say at this moment. Shooting is a great exercise in focus and paying attention, isn’t it? At least you’re using the laser target. Let’s hope the shortages let up sooner rather than later!

    I’ve switched to .22LR for handgun and rifle practice. Look on the bright side – I can carry more rounds.

    • #13
  14. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    Ammo replacement is a big deal

    Susan, back in your earliest days here, you would have been the last person I would have picked to ever use that phrase. 😂 

    • #14
  15. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Percival (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    Ammo replacement is a big deal

    Susan, back in your earliest days here, you would have been the last person I would have picked to ever use that phrase. 😂

    Hey, I’ve learned a lot. Like it’s important to refer to my gun as a weapon–especially if I ever encounter law enforcement!

    • #15
  16. Skyler Coolidge
    Skyler
    @Skyler

    I’m not a big fan of rote movements of looking side to side.  It’s very unnatural.  I suppose it might help some people, but I suspect that when the excitement gets high, they’ll go through the same rote steps without really looking around.  But it’s become some kind of ritual in a lot of firearms courses.

    Just squeeze the grip as hard as you can every time you shoot.  That helps reduce the sympathetic movements of your trigger finger.  (I got that from Mossad Ayoob and I’ve found it very helpful for me.)  

    • #16
  17. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Skyler (View Comment):

    I’m not a big fan of rote movements of looking side to side. It’s very unnatural. I suppose it might help some people, but I suspect that when the excitement gets high, they’ll go through the same rote steps without really looking around. But it’s become some kind of ritual in a lot of firearms courses.

    Just squeeze the grip as hard as you can every time you shoot. That helps reduce the sympathetic movements of your trigger finger. (I got that from Mossad Ayoob and I’ve found it very helpful for me.)

    You make a lot of sense, @skyler. That’s why I want to keep practicing drawing out of my purse, so that it becomes more natural. Under pressure, nothing will seem natural! I’ve found the only way I can be accurate is to grip firmly with both hands; when I don’t, I’m not accurate.

    • #17
  18. Basil Fawlty Member
    Basil Fawlty
    @BasilFawlty

    Susan Quinn: racking the gun to put a bullet in the chamber (yes, I know that some people always have one in the chamber)

    I think they’re known as the survivors.

    • #18
  19. WillowSpring Member
    WillowSpring
    @WillowSpring

    You are way ahead of me. I have had various rifles growing up, but never a handgun.  I finally convinced my wife that now is the time before we lose the ability to get anything.  We are lucky to have a very nice range about a half hour away that also sells weapons and accessories.

    I took the starting lesson in using a handgun – there were about 10 people there including a couple from India that had just  gotten their citizenship.  As the husband explained it, they were going through the Bill of Rights and got to the 2nd amendment and decided they needed to take it seriously.  We need more like that.

    I also took a separate lesson to get help selecting a handgun that made sense for me – I wound up with a Sig Sauer 365.  I also found out I have a problem loading the magazines.  I’m sure part of it is technique, but a good part of it is that at my age (74), I am losing strength in my thumbs.  They say you lose you grip as you age, but I didn’t know they meant it literally.

    Anyway, the instructor set me up with a magazine loader and I can deal with that.  Tomorrow, I will be going back for an hour or so at the range.

    I am also concerned about the availability of ammunition.  Does anyone know what happened to all the weapons and ammo that the Obama administration got for all sort of strange government agencies – like EPA and so on?

    • #19
  20. CACrabtree Coolidge
    CACrabtree
    @CACrabtree

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Skyler (View Comment):

    I’m not a big fan of rote movements of looking side to side. It’s very unnatural. I suppose it might help some people, but I suspect that when the excitement gets high, they’ll go through the same rote steps without really looking around. But it’s become some kind of ritual in a lot of firearms courses.

    Just squeeze the grip as hard as you can every time you shoot. That helps reduce the sympathetic movements of your trigger finger. (I got that from Mossad Ayoob and I’ve found it very helpful for me.)

    You make a lot of sense, @ skyler. That’s why I want to keep practicing drawing out of my purse, so that it becomes more natural. Under pressure, nothing will seem natural! I’ve found the only way I can be accurate is to grip firmly with both hands; when I don’t, I’m not accurate.

    Good job, Susan.  And remember, breath control is tremendously important.

    • #20
  21. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    WillowSpring (View Comment):

    You are way ahead of me. I have had various rifles growing up, but never a handgun. I finally convinced my wife that now is the time before we lose the ability to get anything. We are lucky to have a very nice range about a half hour away that also sells weapons and accessories.

    I took the starting lesson in using a handgun – there were about 10 people there including a couple from India that had just gotten their citizenship. As the husband explained it, they were going through the Bill of Rights and got to the 2nd amendment and decided they needed to take it seriously. We need more like that.

    I also took a separate lesson to get help selecting a handgun that made sense for me – I wound up with a Sig Sauer 365. I also found out I have a problem loading the magazines. I’m sure part of it is technique, but a good part of it is that at my age (74), I am losing strength in my thumbs. They say you lose you grip as you age, but I didn’t know they meant it literally.

    Anyway, the instructor set me up with a magazine loader and I can deal with that. Tomorrow, I will be going back for an hour or so at the range.

    I am also concerned about the availability of ammunition. Does anyone know what happened to all the weapons and ammo that the Obama administration got for all sort of strange government agencies – like EPA and so on?

    Great comment, @willowspring! It sounds like you’re doing all the right things to be prepared. There have been all kinds of reasons given for the ammunition shortage. It sure has been a problem for a while.

    • #21
  22. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    CACrabtree (View Comment):
    Good job, Susan.  And remember, breath control is tremendously important.

    I’m not sure what you mean, CA. Could you explain? (I might know but it’s not clicking for me.)

    • #22
  23. CACrabtree Coolidge
    CACrabtree
    @CACrabtree

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    CACrabtree (View Comment):
    Good job, Susan. And remember, breath control is tremendously important.

    I’m not sure what you mean, CA. Could you explain? (I might know but it’s not clicking for me.)

    Don’t hold your breath.  That’s my wife’s biggest problem in that she takes too much time to line up her shot and she ends up moving the muzzle from side to side while holding her breath and then messes up.  Breathe naturally and just let it go.

    • #23
  24. Headedwest Coolidge
    Headedwest
    @Headedwest

    WillowSpring (View Comment):
    I also took a separate lesson to get help selecting a handgun that made sense for me – I wound up with a Sig Sauer 365.  I also found out I have a problem loading the magazines.  I’m sure part of it is technique, but a good part of it is that at my age (74), I am losing strength in my thumbs.  They say you lose you grip as you age, but I didn’t know they meant it literally.

    The 365 magazine is indeed hard to load; it has a very strong spring.

    I have a 365 and I use a ‘magazine loader’ to avoid the pain of manually loading the magazines. The one I have is probably the best and most universal one I know: the Uplula loader. (Try to buy one that’s not an intellectual property ripoff from Ch*na).  You can find (fake and real) Uplula loaders and many others at Amazon, but if you have a friendly local dealer they will help you get what you need.

    Magazine loaders are gizmos that give you leverage so you can compress the magazine spring with less force. I promise you that a good loader will solve your magazine loading problem.

    But you still have a problem: the force it takes to rack the slide on a 365 and other striker fired guns can be substantial.

    If you’re willing to consider buying another gun, I recommend the Smith & Wesson M&P EZ pistols. They come in 380 and 9mm. I have the 380 and it is very friendly to people with limited hand strength. The magazine has a plastic button on the side to pull down the spring, which is much less powerful than the 365 spring. Additionally, the force required to rack the slide is much less than the 365.

    I bought the EZ specifically for the day when I can no longer operate a conventional pistol.

    Hope this helps.

    • #24
  25. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    CACrabtree (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    CACrabtree (View Comment):
    Good job, Susan. And remember, breath control is tremendously important.

    I’m not sure what you mean, CA. Could you explain? (I might know but it’s not clicking for me.)

    Don’t hold your breath. That’s my wife’s biggest problem in that she takes too much time to line up her shot and she ends up moving the muzzle from side to side while holding her breath and then messes up. Breathe naturally and just let it go.

    I don’t think I’m holding my breath; I can see where that’d be a problem! I’ll double check next time I shoot. If anything, I sometimes shoot too quickly. Practice, practice, practice!

    • #25
  26. Basil Fawlty Member
    Basil Fawlty
    @BasilFawlty

    Headedwest (View Comment):

    WillowSpring (View Comment):
    I also took a separate lesson to get help selecting a handgun that made sense for me – I wound up with a Sig Sauer 365. I also found out I have a problem loading the magazines. I’m sure part of it is technique, but a good part of it is that at my age (74), I am losing strength in my thumbs. They say you lose you grip as you age, but I didn’t know they meant it literally.

    The 365 magazine is indeed hard to load; it has a very strong spring.

    I have a 365 and I use a ‘magazine loader’ to avoid the pain of manually loading the magazines. The one I have is probably the best and most universal one I know: the Uplula loader. (Try to buy one that’s not an intellectual property ripoff from Ch*na). You can find (fake and real) Uplula loaders and many others at Amazon, but if you have a friendly local dealer they will help you get what you need.

    Magazine loaders are gizmos that give you leverage so you can compress the magazine spring with less force. I promise you that a good loader will solve your magazine loading problem.

    But you still have a problem: the force it takes to rack the slide on a 365 and other striker fired guns can be substantial.

    If you’re willing to consider buying another gun, I recommend the Smith & Wesson M&P EZ pistols. They come in 380 and 9mm. I have the 380 and it is very friendly to people with limited hand strength. The magazine has a plastic button on the side to pull down the spring, which is much less powerful than the 365 spring. Additionally, the force required to rack the slide is much less than the 365.

    I bought the EZ specifically for the day when I can no longer operate a conventional pistol.

    Hope this helps.

    I have the 9mm version and love it. The magazine has two plastic tabs to compress the spring, so even I can load it.

    • #26
  27. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    ….the home coming queen has got a gun!  Nice to hear you’re back rocking your groove Susan. 

    • #27
  28. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Zafar (View Comment):

    ….the home coming queen has got a gun! Nice to hear you’re back rocking your groove Susan.

    Thanks, Zafar!

    • #28
  29. navyjag Coolidge
    navyjag
    @navyjag

    Susan, we need you in California. To guard Luis Viuton and Nordstrom.  Cops aren’t interested. 

    • #29
  30. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    navyjag (View Comment):

    Susan, we need you in California. To guard Luis Viuton and Nordstrom. Cops aren’t interested.

    I left CA for many good reasons. No thanks!

    • #30