If you’ve been following me on Twitter, you are aware that I’ve enrolled in the Citizen’s Police Academy at my local police department. It’s been a really cool experience learning about how the Texas police operate and the tools they use. Their job is incredibly complex and I really feel much better about my city after meeting and chatting with them.
About three weeks ago now, we got the opportunity to shoot standard issue firearms at the gun range inside the local station.
Now, I went through Hunter Safety back as a teenager when I was in 4-H and I’ve shot my share of small rifles, but they have nothing on the types of guns we got the chance to use. These suckers have some real stopping power.
I was surprised that there wasn’t more discussion about gun safety given to the class, but we were given such one-on-one attention when the guns were in our hands, more instruction probably wasn’t that necessary.
For the life of me, I can’t tell you what I shot, except it was a standard issue pistol and rifle.
I shot a few six shooters in high school at my father’s insistence, but I don’t recall much about the experience.
The first thing we did was go up to the designated yellow line. We had safety glasses and noise canceling headphones on. The officer gave us the gun with the muzzle pointed down and no bullets in the chamber.
They gave the gun to us empty so that we could both cock and pull the trigger on the gun without also worrying about the recoil. The gun felt a little heavy in my hands, but not terribly.
After my test shot, the officer loaded the clip into the pistol, I cocked it and took aim. It’s crazy the things that come back to you in a moment like this. I remember an old lesson about sighting on guns from my Hunter Ed class. My eyesight is pretty poor and I need an eye exam, so I needed to make sure I used only my dominant eye. I would aim, inhale and pull the trigger on an exhale.
The officer suggested adjusting my grip on the gun so that the top of my hand came up over the butt of the gun. It helped a little, but I think it just had too much kick for me.
For the most part I kept all my shots except for one in center mass. Center mass is that central region of the chest that would mean hitting a person in the heart or lungs, possibly the spinal column.
The one shot that I got outside of center mass and into the outer part of a lung was the one shot I took in quick succession, and it teaches you that taking your time really is the best choice to ensure taking the best shot. Of course we’re talking paper targets here. Not live suspects.
After we shot the pistols they brought out the rifles. I don’t have any pictures of it, which is kind of disappointing, but oh well. I’ll admit, the rifle intimidated me. I was expecting something along the lines of the big rifle my father let me shoot once that left me black and blue for a week.
We only got one shot with a rifle so it had to count. There was also no dummy shot. You got what you got the one time through.
It was hard for me to get the sights lined up because you have to get your cheek right down on the gun and the headphones were in my way. I realized just before I was going to take the shot that my arms were shaking and I was honestly intimidated by the gun. I actually lowered it and took a deep breath. The officer asked me what was wrong and I just admitted I let the gun screw with my head. After a deep breath I lifted it again, sighted and pulled the trigger on an exhale.
The shot sailed through just under what would have been the heart of the target.
Also? The recoil on the rifle wasn’t anywhere near as bad as the pistol.
Over all, I did really well. I also recognize that there are some things I haven’t addressed when I have written a gun into a scene. I’m totally going to take this into my writing and use it to make it better!
The Citizen’s Police Academy has been a great opportunity. If you’re interested, check with your local police department to find out if there’s one near you.