I don’t understand organized sports. I never did. As a kid I couldn’t care more who was in what playoffs, what team was most likely to win what, and why? I just didn’t care for it. I still don’t. Also I never felt the need to be aggressive or absolutely must win. When I was younger when all of my friends in school were playing baseball, soccer, football, whatever, I always would rather my ‘rent of the weekend (could be my Dad, could be Patty, depending on the weekend) take me to the city so I could peruse the museums. Of course it should come as no surprise that none of my friends held the same feelings, so mostly I went with the ‘rents and my friends called me names behind my back. I’m sure you can imagine..
Now all this changes the day after I moved to Florida. My Dad had been hanging around a local shooting range in Fort Lauderdale called “Shooter’s Emporium” which he promptly took me to. Now, you know the saying “kid in a candy store”? Of course, everyone does, but let me tell you; it doesn’t hold water to “Thirteen year old in a gun shop”!
Wholly Arsenal Batman!!! They had friggan everything there! Mel Gibson’s Beretta 92F from Lethal Weapon? They had ‘em, dozens of them! MP5 Machine pistol? Available for rent!! Calico drum fed .22, the same as Princess Vespa used in Spaceballs (Just what we need, a Druish princess) had it!
So of course my Dad says that we can use “his” Beretta on the range….
What? Wait a second! What Beretta? When did you get a Beretta??
Turns out the Pops had a few pistols at this point… go figure. So we go out on the range where there is a substantial amount of gunfire noise, indescribable to those who’ve not heard it before, and I get my first whiff of cordite and gunpowder. I liked it. I liked it a lot!
Of course, he wasn’t gonna let me shoot the big 9MM Beretta so he pulled out of his bag of tricks a Ruger MKII .22 Target pistol. I didn’t give a rats ass what the hell the cartridge size was, I wanted to fire the damn thing right the hell now!!
I get the safety lecture, “Don’t rapid fire, Don’t jerk the pistol, breath and then pull the trigger, and most important if you can’t follow any of that; don’t point it at me!”. yeah yeah yeah, give me the damn pistol! I can feel it like I felt no other thing before, almost an extension of my hand, no fear, no worry, just excitement and anticipation.
At 10 feet away my first round goes through the 10 ring on the target. My Dad “don’t get too excited, the first round always looks good, see if you can do it again.”
This time through the Bullseye.
“Ok Cor, uh, lets try it a little farther out a 25 feet” Out the target goes to the indicated 25ft distance
“Huh!” Says my Dad. “Well, lets try it at 50 feet” out the carrier goes and I set up to fire
“I don’t know whats going on. I think maybe you should, uh, practice, ah, yep, a practice with the .22 a bit more and, uh, I don’t know what to say”
“Is everything ok?” I ask thinking my Dad is upset. He’s not upset, he’s debating whether or not to hand a thirteen year old a high caliber pistol.
After about 100 rounds go through the Ruger, my Dad wrestled up the courage to let me try the Beretta with double the amount of safety lecture of course ending in “Do not point it at me, no matter what!”
I set up, and now this is a different beast. Its heavier, its bigger all the way around. My hands can barely get around the grip, and plus it just loooooks mean!
BANG BANG BANG BANG
All in the Bullseye or the Ten Ring
At this point the Range Master, Regie, comes out and says to my Dad “Looks like you got a natural on your hands, lets get him everything he can hold to see what he’ll do with it.”
SCORE!!!!!! Wholly shit this is cool and getting better! I cycled through everything they had at the rental counter, .38, .357, 45, whatever, however!
After that we went every day to the range where I fired at least 100 rounds a day. My confidence is coming up, my marksmanship was really improving and it was lets face it, so damn cool to be going! Come the following Monday, my first in exile in Florida, and we’re on the way to a new range. Not Shooters, this was something else, a little hole in the wall off of Dixie Highway on Commercial Blvd.
Already this was hugely different, the people milling about had serious looks on their face. They were all very very Southern. I’d not seen anything like it before. Frankly I was a bit scared.
We walked up to the window showing the range and out through it I see in every other lane there are 14 bowling pins arranged as 5 the first 15 feet, 5 at 25 feet and 4 at 50 ft. What the hell is this?
My Dad explains that this is a competitive shoot, whoever knocks the most pins down in 30 seconds wins and he’s entering me in it. Yeah, I don’t know, I’m not good at the whole win or loose thing. I just started learning to shoot and I don’t think this is a good idea. Too bad, he’s already done it. One of the guys milling about comes over and says in a very thick accent “Hey Boy! You ginna shoot tonight wid us?” uh, I don’t know, I guess. “Awright den, you ginna have to fire at the little red triangle on the front of the pin, Boy. Pay no damn attention to what anybody else is doing, theys gonna be so surprised a boy is shooting against theys ginna loose anyway, you get me Boy?” Uh sure, I guess. I don’t know hit the triangle got it!
I get into firing position as I was taught, I hear a police siren go off and shooting! I see pins getting knocked down next to me and I realize I’m supposed to shoot too! I fire and miss my first pin and something changes, I’ve never felt this way before but I got angry and focused. I couldn’t hear the other shooters, couldn’t see past the pin in front of me and time slowed as I one by one knocked the pins down. Siren goes off, and I’ve left two pins standing, the other shooters a few more than that, I had won that round! Two more rounds go through and I’m now reliably shooting all of my pins down, its incredible, its like I was a machine, I felt nothing other than the need to make them all go down. No thoughts in my head, nothing. Just pure need to win.
I did in fact win the whole shoot that night, but only because my handicap was slightly lower than the guy that DID shoot the most pins down. But it didn’t matter, from that moment on I was hooked. I went on to shoot competitively through out my teenage years racking up speed shoots, accuracy shoots, IPSC National Match and a lot of trophies, up and till the time I figured out that I liked girls better than guns!