Hey, everybody knows that guns are an “old white guy” thing, right? Of course they are. But somebody apparently forgot to tell the Toronto Sun’s Jenny Yuen that little detail. Not only did she go to an evil, scary gun range (gasp!), but she also took her friends (gasp!gasp!) and even enjoyed herself (gasp!gasp!gasp!). And then she went ahead and wrote about it … Twice. In the same day.
I mean, seriously now … how are we supposed to keep up a perfectly good racist/sexist stereotype with people like her running around and buggering up the works on us?
TORONTO – Until a few weeks ago, the only things I knew about guns were from police reports and violent movies.
I had never picked one up, been near one or heard the echoes of shotgun blasts. And quite frankly, I was pretty afraid of them.
I know the Chinese invented gunpowder, but firearms have never been standard in my family.
In fact, guns have been the source of several heated arguments between my boyfriend Dave, who often heads home to Kincardine to shoot guns with his friend. They don’t go hunting, but rather shoot targets — puddles, broken TVs, frozen hams — often with a 12-gauge pump-action shotgun. It’s just what you did if you grew up in the country.
But when I think of guns, all I see is a killing tool — something that (aside from the hunting industry) shouldn’t really be necessary. Maybe that’s naive.
When Dave thinks of guns, all he sees is math and physics. The idea of a bullet going over 300 metres per second.
So, when he’d go out shooting, I’d nod and smile but I didn’t really want to know much more of it. I was stubborn and felt I was right.
A good friend of mine, Jess, admitted she went to Sharon Gun Club and told me about the women-only course. She convinced me it was a good idea to try it and to keep an open mind. She said because she was around other women, it made her feel that much more comfortable.
When we arrived at the clubhouse and could hear the gunshots, I became very nervous.
I remember when it was my turn to shoot the first gun — a .22-calibre semi-automatic pistol. My hands perspired as I approached the table.
Our instructor demonstrated how to gingerly pick up the pistol and how to fold my hands around the grip properly so that my thumb wouldn’t get busted when the slide moved back.
He told me to breathe and relax, keep legs apart in a strong stance. Look down the sight and make sure it’s lined up with the target. And when you’re ready, put the finger on the trigger and slowly squeeze.
The first thing I thought was, “Wow, that was so easy” and then, “That was pretty cool.”
We rotated through the seven different guns. I found the scope hard to deal with, even though the “red dot” was supposed to make it easier on us.
I still couldn’t get over how loud the blasts were. But it didn’t matter because I was having a blast as we progressed onwards. I was pleased and surprised my groupings were close together.
I didn’t feel powerful despite holding a powerful weapon. I know its force and respected what it was.
My favourite handgun was the centre-fire semi-automatic pistol because it was amazingly light to pick up, easy to handle, but had a strong and unexpected kick-back when it fired.
I was also a fan of the pump action shotgun because when fired quickly three times, makes you feel like you could hold your own during the Zombie Apocalypse.
I left Sharon Gun Club that day feeling much more open-minded and understanding of target shooting.
I came home with my cardboard target under my arm and Dave greeted me. He took one look at it and said, “You’re deadly.”
And after listening to me excitedly chatter about the guns we shot and the reactions, he sort of leans back and puts his feet up.
“Well, I don’t want to say … I told you so, but … I told you so.”
Yes, boyfriends can be right sometimes.
TORONTO – Dirty Harry? More like Dirty Harriet.
At the Sharon Gun Club, women are picking up firearms and getting the chance to destroy their paper targets – and some of them are hitting the bull’s-eye.
The gun club, located an hour northeast of Toronto, is the only club that teaches women specifically to learn how to shoot guns in an effort to get them more familiar and comfortable with firearms.
“A lot of women don’t have access or feel safe around firearms,” explains John, one of four instructors who teach the course, who declined to give his last name. “A lot of their husbands have them. For women, it doesn’t seem to be something they do a lot of and because of the politics, they’ve made the general population afraid of firearms. This is for women who are afraid of guns, who are curious about them and for women who want to know how to do it.”
The course began last fall and runs from May to October each Saturday morning.
For $50 per person with a maximum of four women to a group, you get to learn how to shoot and safely handle seven different types of firearms — from a .45-calibre single-action Uberti revolver to an AR-15 assault rifle, otherwise known as Tony Montana’s infamous “little friend” in Scarface.
It’s the same thing with guns as it is with cars or other “manly” activities — women are just afraid to ask questions or look stupid in front of men, which is why having a group of women together, learning about what a calibre means or the type of ammunition or how to turn the safety off makes sense, John explained.
“Women are very good shooters and a lot of women can outshoot men, hands down,” he said. “Safety is paramount and we’re also promoting the sport. In the right hands, with the proper training, there is nothing unsafe about them. A couple guys were actually mad their wives went shooting without them.”
During the three-hour course women are led to Range No. 2 where the instructor starts off with smaller handguns before working his way up to bigger rifles, including a Winchester.
The students, for example, learn how to load magazine clips with bullets for the Smith and Wesson .22-calibre slide action semi-automatic handgun. The instructor is always beside you to give you a one-on-one lesson.
There are three rules to gun safety:
- Always assume the gun is loaded.
- Always point the gun in a safe direction — and that doesn’t necessarily mean always downward — it means wherever it won’t hit anyone, so if you’re on a second-floor apartment, downward isn’t the way to go.
- Keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot.
And sorry to burst your bubble, guys, women do not wear string bikinis while firing weapons despite what YouTube has led you to believe.
People taking the course are instructed to wear comfortable clothing, shoes that cover the toes and nothing that reveals cleavage in case hot casings fly down the shirt. Eye protection and ear protection are provided and must be on when the range is “live.”
“We’ve been getting really good feedback about the course,” John said. “A couple women didn’t want to do it anymore, and that’s fine, that’s what it’s about — to see whether it’s for you or not. But hopefully, they walk away without that fear of guns anymore.”