by Frank Pauc
This first appeared in Frank’s blog on March 17, 2018. It is republished here with the author’s permission.
There isn’t much in Snook, Texas. It is a farming community outside of Bryan/College Station. There are level fields with rust-red dirt and the first green shoots of the spring crops. A few working oil wells dot the landscape.
There is a shooting range in Snook. It’s called “Gunsmoke.” Hans had been to the place years ago when he used to go skeet shooting. The range is at the end of a dusty, gravel road. There are actually four ranges there: a skeet range, a pistol range, and two rifle ranges (one with targets at 100 yards and one with them at 25 yards).
Four of us were going shooting. It was Hans, Karin, myself, and Hans’ fiancée, Gabi. Hans wanted to zero his new MSR-15. He also brought along his bolt action, hunting rifle, and his 1911 semiautomatic .45. Gabi wanted to try the .45 pistol. I was willing to shoot any of the weapons. Karin was planning to observe. She had never seen Hans fire a gun, and she wanted to know what that was like.
We walked into the shack that served as the administrative building for the ranges. We all had to show our driver’s licenses. Maybe they do a very quick background check. I don’t know. All I know is that I signed a waiver that said the people running the range were not to be held responsible for anything. Fair enough.
The two guys working in the shack were obviously former military. They had full beards and shaggy haircuts, but they had that well-muscled, hard-ass look. One man had a t-shirt that said “USNA.” I asked him if he had been at the Naval Academy. He told me that he had been a Marine weapons instructor, and he had been at Annapolis temporarily to teach the midshipmen how to shoot. I was not surprised at all.
We went to the 100-yard rifle range first. We all put in our earplugs. Karin was not aware of how loud firearms can be. We put up a couple of targets. Hans tried to zero the assault rifle. The sight was too far out of adjustment for him to get an accurate shot at that distance. He couldn’t hit the target, so he couldn’t tell how to move the front sight on the rifle. We took out the hunting rifle. Hans and I both shot a few rounds. I am not sure what I hit. I never used a scope before, so I couldn’t get steady. Hans nailed the targets.
The other rifle range was busy, so we stopped at the pistol range. Hans shot the .45 first. He did well, as expected. I shot nine rounds at maybe twenty yards. I had a couple good hits, but I didn’t have very tight shot group. Gabi went to shoot with Hans. It was her first time with the pistol. She had told us that the boys in her family had all learned to shoot, but the girls never had the opportunity. Hans patiently showed her how to aim and fire. He seems like a good instructor.
Karin went up to shoot. It was the first time that Karin had fired a weapon in her life. Hans put only one bullet into the magazine. He told her how to hold the pistol, and how to aim it. Karin fired off the round, and then she was done. Karin doesn’t like guns, and I doubt that she ever will. However, I think it was good for her to at least try it once.
I talked with Gabi about how she felt with the gun.
Gabi said, “It was okay, but I only hit the target once.”
I told her, “With a .45, you only need to hit your target once.”
From the pistol range, we went to the 25-yard rifle range. We set up a target. Hans got out the AR and started to zero it. He initially kept hitting the target low and to the right. He adjusted the front site repeatedly. He asked Karin, “Mom, do have a pin or something?”
Karin piped up, “I have a knitting needle! Will that help?”
Hans shook his head. “Never mind.”
As we watched Hans carefully aim his weapon, I told Gabi, “I like to see a professional at work.” Gabi smiled and nodded.
Karin laughed and said, “You don’t watch me like that when I knit!”
Hans got the AR sighted to his satisfaction. He fired off some rounds and hit the bull’s eye with consistency. Then he looked at Gabi and said, “Ready?”
She replied, “I don’t want to shoot that!”
Hans laughed. “Come on… it’s calling to you.”
Hans shrugged. “Okay…”
Hans handed the gun to me. I used up the rounds left in the magazine. I had a good shot group, but it was a little low and to the left. Oh well, I only shoot when we visit Hans. It’s just as well. I like it, but shooting is an expensive hobby.
I don’t own any guns. I don’t want any.
But I had fun.