The following essay was written by high-school senior Gabby Stein for her Sociology class. Newington CT Facilitator Samantha Galante was contacted by Gabby’s uncle about her class project, so she invited them to watch an IDPA match to learn about shooting sports and experience the atmosphere. Samantha says, “Gabby was able to perfectly express what most girls and women feel when they are first introduced to shooting. This essay will hopefully encourage more women to join us at the range!”
1. I anticipate that with trying something very new, I will be very nervous for the fact that this is something completely out of my comfort zone.
2. I would like to experience how to safely use a gun and to learn the basics of what this activity is about.
3. With an instructor, I want to acquire knowledge about different guns, tactics, and strategies.
4. I hope to gain a new hobby in the process of experiencing something new.
5. I am very scared to try shooting to be honest. The thought of holding a gun scares me and makes me uncomfortable, however I want to try something completely new and out of my zone.
April 27th, 2015
My mom, my uncle, and I all met at Cabela’s in East Hartford, CT. From there we took one car to Berlin, CT where we would meet Samantha Galante, the instructor who would be working with me. Once we arrived at the Mattabassett Rifle-Pistol Club in Berlin, we signed in and Samantha did some basic stretches with my mom and me. The purpose of the stretches was that I was going to be using arm muscles that probably haven’t been worked like this before. She had us practice stances, safety regulations, basic skills, and explained to us the purpose of everything we were learning so that we were learning and enjoying our time at the same time. After this, it was then time to walk out to the range where Samantha told us to make sure we had our “eyes” and “ears” on at all times. What this means is making sure we are wearing glasses of some kind to protect our eyes and ear plugs/ muffs, and these would protect our hearing. When we walked out, we were so fortunate because there was no one else at the range except us. I first practiced by pointing a simulator gun at a target about 50 ft. away from me. This gave Samantha the chance to see where my eyes and focus were so she could guide me in the right direction to ensure my shots are safe and on target. After I practiced for about a half an hour, it was time to shoot the real thing. Samantha was amazing. She was comforting and supportive. After becoming a bit frustrated at myself for not being able to get the laser from the simulator right on point, I started to cry. Not only for frustration, but for being nervous and scared for what comes after. I took my stance just like she showed me, she put her hand on my back, told me to breathe, focus, and I got this. She told me to show her that confidence in my attitude, and when I was ready, shoot. 1……..2……..3…….BOOM. Shot fired. I felt silly though for flinching before the sound, I felt like the biggest dork on earth when every time I shot I screamed inside and jumped up and down like an idiot. The adrenaline was amazing—the power inside such a tiny metal thing. However, what I was able to pick up from all that I learned in such a small amount of time was that , all guns are always loaded (until you establish whether they are or not). Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy. Keep your gun pointed in a safe direction at all times: on the range, at home, loading, or unloading. Keep your finger off the trigger and out of the trigger guard until your sights are on the target (and you are ready to shoot). Be sure of your target. Know what it is, what is in line with it and what is behind it. Never shoot at anything that you haven’t positively identified.
Reaction To Expectations
1. Learning how to shoot made me extremely nervous to the point I became emotional and was afraid to even shoot the gun. There were countless times I wanted to just stop and go home, but I knew that there were tasks that still needed to be done, and that I needed to finish what I started for myself. For the experience. This experience was very out of my comfort zone. I have never done something even remotely close to this. This was an intense experience for me but I am beyond proud of myself for overcoming my nerves and trying something different.
2. I was able to learn how to shoot a gun safely, very safely. Before learning how to shoot at the gun range, I never knew that shooting came with so many safety rules and regulations that must be followed AT ALL TIMES in order to assure the utmost safety and comfort of everyone.
3. I was able to learn about different clubs, conferences, and activities that can be done through the shooting community. For instance, my instructor is apart of the A Girl With A Gun club for women shooters. She attended a conference in Texas and attends multiple activities all around Connecticut throughout the year to enhance her own experience as well as enjoy this sport.
4. I definitely think that I have gained a new hobby in the process of this project. With learning how to shoot, its more than just shooting a gun, its learning to feel confident enough in yourself to pull the trigger back and release. It takes a lot more to do so then people could imagine, and I was able to learn this. Once I did, it became one of the smartest decisions I could have ever made.
5. With holding a gun, I became emotional. With the thought of shooting, I became emotional. With the thought of being uncomfortable and out of my comfort zone made me emotional. However, when it comes down to it, life is about making choices. Making the choice to believe in yourself enough to try something new. To try something that is completely out of your comfort zone. I took the risk. While I wasn’t a perfect shot, I gave it my best. That’s all my instructor, uncle, mom, and myself could have asked for.
What I Learned About Shooting
Through learning how to shoot, I have learned many things not only about a gun, but about myself, other people, and my environment.
What I have learned about myself is that I should never self-doubt. I feel that when this happens, I shut down immediately and am unwilling to try anymore. For instance, when we started setting up at the range and I started to become very emotional. I was scared, nervous, and anxious for the thought of not only holding a gun but because I was completely uncomfortable and out of my normalcy. In contrast, the moment I opened up and allowed myself the opportunity to experience something brand new, good things started to happen. I gave myself the confidence that my instructor saw in me and I began to shoot closer and closer to the center of the target. While I know that this is something I need practice on if I so choose to continue shooting, I am very impressed that I was able to allow myself to step out of my comfort zone and into an entirely new world. I didn’t just experience something new about something I never tried before, but rather something closer to home, I learned about myself.
I have learned very much about people through this experience. Not necessarily first hand, but through discussion with my instructor, things she has told me about things people have said or done is sort of crazy. However, if there is one thing I learned about people that I found to be quite powerful, was the fact it’s ultimately the person who has the power to turn an object evil. Samantha laid the gun down in front of me, and we just looked at it. She told me that the gun will not harm anyone or anything unless I pulled the trigger and made that happen. That was powerful to me because there is such a stigma about guns be always bad. Ultimately, the gun only becomes bad when the person behind the gun does something maliciously with it.
What I was able to learn about from my environment, was that the world that embodies shooting, is not only safe, but quite mellow for the most part. My instructor informed that everything and everyone take the highest safety precautions that are possible to ensure the highest level of safety for everyone. When I looked around at the range, everyone concentrated on one thing at a time, focused on where their gun was pointed and how they were handling it, and watched the people around them so nothing bad could happen. Again going back to the negative stigma, people place such negative ideas on shooting that people think this is something with a lot of tension. When it’s the complete opposite. Everyone is willing to be supportive and lend a helping hand. The environment is not only calm and serene, but mellow and comforting.
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