This is the fifth of several student gun range field trip reflection essays from my fall 2022 Sociology of Guns seminar (see reflection #1 and reflection #2 and reflection #3 and reflection #4). The assignment to which students are responding can be found here. I am grateful to these students for their willingness to have their thoughts shared publicly.
By Jayden Brown
After attending the range, I think that my previous beliefs about guns in the US were amplified. When I was holding the guns, it felt like I was handling too much power; it made me very nervous. It made me think about how some people can pull the trigger so easily, especially when it is aimed at another person. I think that television shows have also desensitized us from the truth surrounding guns. On TV, especially on cop shows, the police officers and perpetrators fire guns at each other like it is nothing. They make it look a lot easier than it actually is.
For the past few weeks, I tried to imagine what it felt like to hold and fire a gun since it was going to be my first time, but I could not get past my nerves. On the drive up to the range, I was stressed out because I did not think that I was going to be able to pull the trigger. In my house, we do not own any guns and none of my immediate family members know how to shoot a gun. I grew up in a household where guns are bad and are the reasons for many problems that we face today.
One thing that surprised me was how loud the gunshots were. All of the guns that we tried were very loud and caught me off guard every time I squeezed the trigger. When I first got to the range and pulled into the parking lot, the shots from the other group made me jump. I had heard gunshots down the street from my house and I thought that they were loud (I live on the edge of Winston), but nothing compares to standing right there.
One thing that I learned was how to line up the notches in the gun (I do not know the exact terminology) in order to hit the target. I thought that people would go solely based on their eyesight and try to direct where they wanted the bullet to go. After learning this, I was able to repeatedly hit the target. I even hit the metal target with the pistol on my first try. For the other two guns, my aim was not as good as they had a lot more recoil than the .22 caliber pistol. On top of that, the Glock was much heavier than I thought it was going to be. I could not imagine having to hold the rifle while trying to shoot; it would not have worked out well.
After this experience at the gun range, I do not think that I necessarily want to go to another one. I used to think that I would want to own a gun for protection when I began to live by myself, but now I do not know. If I did eventually want to own a gun, I would need a lot more practice in order to become comfortable around them.
I was nervous at the range and that was a relaxing situation. I could not imagine having to act in a life-threatening one.