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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.
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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!
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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