Student Range Visit Reflection: Fear of the Unknown

Students in my Sociology of Guns Seminar are required to visit a gun range with their classmates early in the semester and to write a reflection essay based on the experience (see the assignment).

Below is the second student reflection essay for Fall 2020. (Find the first here.)

Sociology of Guns student range visit. Photo by Sandra Stroud Yamane

By Mary Sills

I’ll be honest. I was very nervous about going to the gun range. I had never shot a gun, let alone been around one. I’ve never grown up around guns. Both my parents would never have one in our house. Guns have never been a topic of discussion at my house and if they have, it’s usually with a bad connotation. We live in a pretty safe neighborhood so they don’t feel the need for one. They view a gun as more of a problem than a solution.

I think being sheltered like this kind of fueled my fear of the unknown: the world of firearms.

I think it’s very rational that I was afraid of a weapon that has the power to take away someone’s life. I’m also a pretty anxious person in general and having that kind of weapon around would just make me uneasy.

I do have friends that own guns and go shooting. My best friend from high school owns a gun and keeps it at her apartment to protect herself. She’s grown up going to gun ranges and having guns in her house. But she doesn’t talk about it with me. Sometimes I’ll ask her questions about the gun range or what gun she uses because I’m curious. It’s definitely a whole culture I’ve never really exposed myself to.

With my non-existent exposure to guns, I was even unsure if I was going to shoot the gun. But I decided beforehand that I wanted to because I knew I would probably never get this opportunity again. And when I did it, it wasn’t so bad. But I was still nervous holding the gun. I wanted to make sure I was holding it right. I just didn’t want to make a mistake with something that could cause so much harm.

I had built up this experience so much in my mind because I was afraid. But when I finally shot the 9mm Glock pistol, it almost reminded me of firing a toy gun. I wasn’t so intimidated by it after I shot it. I started to feel more comfortable with it. I was more apprehensive about shooting the AR-15. It just looked intimidating. I guess I didn’t like how intense the kickback felt against my shoulder.

Sociology of Guns student range visit. Photo by Sandra Stroud Yamane

I was also surprised we didn’t receive more training or information beforehand. I know we needed to limit our exposure as much as possible and that’s probably why we only had the videos for training. It almost seemed too simple because as someone who has never shot a gun before I felt underprepared. I think I would’ve felt a little more at ease if we were provided more information at the gun range.

[DY: Training was provided asynchronously via videos on gun safety, firearms, and marksmanship, but covered the same information covered in range field trips in previous semesters.]

I don’t know if I would go shooting again. But I’m glad I did it. The experience wasn’t as daunting or scary as I thought it would be. I can sort of see why people would go to the gun range to relieve stress or why they feel more protected by owning a gun. I don’t think I would ever get one for protection but I understand the appeal after shooting a gun for the first time. Also, I understand more why people go shooting as a hobby than I did before. The experience was liberating in a way and the weight of my fear seemed to lessen as well.

I also think in my mind I always had the simple connotation that guns are bad. I’ve tried to fight this almost instinctual association with guns because I know it’s not rational. Close friends of mine regularly go to gun ranges and own a gun for self-defense. From this experience, I look at guns in a slightly more positive light but I also better understand why people own guns for different reasons.

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13 thoughts on “Student Range Visit Reflection: Fear of the Unknown

  1. Pingback: Student Range Visit Reflection #3: A Strange Mixture of Emotions | Gun Curious

  2. Pingback: Student Range Visit Reflection #4: Becoming More Comfortable Around Firearms | Gun Curious

  3. Pingback: Reflections on a Visit to a Gun Range | 357 Magnum

  4. Pingback: Student Range Visit Reflection #5: I Learned That I Was Capable of Safely Handling a Weapon | Gun Curious

  5. Pingback: Student Range Visit Reflection #6: I Found the Competitive Nature of the Shooting Very Appealing | Gun Curious

  6. Pingback: Student Range Visit Reflection #7: The Power I Felt Behind the Gun Was Unsettling | Gun Curious

  7. Pingback: Student Range Visit Reflection #8: Under No Circumstances Should a Gun Be in the Hands of a Typical Citizen | Gun Curious

  8. Pingback: Student Range Visit Reflection #9: I Was Surprised By How Much I Enjoyed the Feeling | Gun Curious

  9. Pingback: Student Range Visit Reflection #10: I Have Always Viewed Gun Ownership as a Normal Part of Life | Gun Curious

  10. Pingback: Student Range Visit Reflection #11: I Am Still Struggling to Come to Terms with Enjoying My Experience | Gun Curious

  11. Pingback: Student Reflections on a Trip to a Gun Range | 357 Magnum

  12. Pingback: Collected Posts on Sociology of Guns Seminar | Gun Curious

  13. Pingback: Sociology of Guns Seminar Student Final Reflection #2: A Good Way to Start Bridging the Divide | Gun Curious

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