Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Things to be thankfull for.

The last few weeks have been good to me. Often I get caught up in the troubles of the world. I forget to mention the good things in my life. The Saturday before last I spent the day with Wmtrainguy, Super E, and Ceri. Wmtrainguy introduced me to bloodbowl, a rugby-like game in which various fantasy races compete on a hex board. Dice are used to check skills, randomize ball bounces, assess tackle results, and determine damage. Each race has its own character, skills, and style. I played the orcs (large heavily armored bruisers) while he played the humans (well rounded generalists.) We played through 6 turns out of 8 for the first half. It was fun—as much because I love new games as for sharing the experience with friends. I’m going to get into this game eventually, but not until I get some more games under my belt. I’ve committed myself to finishing some long-standing projects before taking on new ones.

We followed that up with an excellent dinner of grilled lamb and veggies. With super E put to bed, the three adults had mint juleps and talked politics and religion. Normally these are not relaxing or “fun” topics; however the three of us enjoyed a lively discussion free of acrimony. Their house is one of the few places where things are really relaxed. It’s good I don’t go there more often; I’d be tempted to stay.

Friday I took a half day off in order to take 4 of the brunette’s coworkers to the range—three of whom were first time shooters. I enjoy introducing people to firearms. Everyone want’s something different—a chance to assume the mantle of an action hero, the desire to try something new, even the chance to confront one’s fears. We started at the house where I went through my standard safety shtick—the four rules, guns should be respected not feared, some general handling tips, and basic stance/grip coaching. It’s important to me that new shooters get eased into the process. Fear and uncertainty can mar an otherwise rewarding experience. I don’t expect new shooters to remember most of what I say in the initial briefing; but if they retain a few of the points I’m happy. I’m looking to get them somewhat familiar with guns and introduce them to the idea of handling them. The reality is that they aren’t going to get unsupervised access to a firearm until I’m entirely sure they won’t be a danger to themselves and others.

I packed up my colt diamond back, my Ruger 10/22 takedown, my Colt Gold Cup 1911, and the brunette’s Taurus thunderbolt. We checked in, renewed our membership, got our ear and eye protection, and touched base with the range officer. It’s always good to let the guy in charge of range safety know what’s going on. That way he can offer help where needed and keep a second weather eye out for trouble. The brunette and her somewhat experienced coworker set up on one lane with her rifle and his Ruger 9mm while I set up on the other with the Diamondback and the 3 neophytes. Several of Continental’s 12 lanes were occupied—creating an intermittent roar as various shooters went to town. If you want to cure flinching, spend a few hours on a public range. You still notice, but it doesn’t engage the fight-or-flight instinct after the fifteenth time someone cuts loose with a 12 gage.

Side note, It seems that due to recent legislation, people going to a public range in Maryland have to turn in their license or green card to be recorded. This is probably a two or three hour rant—but I’ll keep it to one paragraph for now. The document presentation bit doesn’t bother me. We’d had to do that before for liability reasons. The difference was that then it was for the range’s private use. Now not only is it a liability thing, it’s also a state thing. I knew the state looked over recent range attendees before this—looking for parolees who weren’t supposed to be on premises. In this case it just rubbed me the wrong way—just another example of how Maryland treats gun owners as second class citizens. If we asked voters to do the same thing there would be a huge public outcry. But when thousands of gun owners protest restrictive and pointless gun control laws it means nothing—deep breath.

Back on topic, I spent the session walking people through safe range practices, familiarizing them with the guns, and giving them the confidence to enjoy what they were doing. It’s easy to get people to like shooting. It’s like driving a fast car or going on an amusement park ride—the thrill does the work for you. I also enjoy teaching. There were people in my life who helped me in the beginning—especially squish and the Jew. But they weren’t really experienced shooters either. Teaching new shooters is rewarding because every time someone gets it—that guns are fun as long as treated with respect—I feel like I’ve won a victory.

That evening we had our normal Friday night dinner gathering. Food was excellent. Conversation was outstanding. I may not always agree, heck I usually don’t agree with my friends on everything, but it’s nice to sit down and just let the conversation ride. Our larger group has so many varied experiences and perspectives that large conversations are always enlightening.

1. I spent the rest of the weekend reading, cooking, and getting some quality time with the Brunette. I’m lucky to be married to a woman who loves good books, gaming, and large caliber firearms as much as I do. We just finished reading Gardens of the Moon (The Malazan Book of the Fallen, Book 1), an excellent but dense read. We’re on to the second book in the series now.

Life has been good to me ;)

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