Friday, August 5, 2011

I am one desperately dangerous dude

I don't have a violent bone in my body. One time a piece of chicken gristle stormed into my body via my throat and not one bone attacked it, or even stood up to it, it's now embedded between my stomach and spleen. Even now my bones bring it chicken soup when it's sick, then again I guess that is forcing cannibalism, I do have the odd silly bone.

Over my years I've held the odd weapon. As a teenager I sourced some Ninja stars and a couple of knives, plus most nights at some point I'll hold a fork, and you can do some serious damage to a scrotum with one of them. I had a potato gun, I had cap guns and briefly in Czech republic I bought a very illegal in Australia BB gun. It said on the box for ages 11+ and I WAS in that age range, so I felt totally safe.

Still as of today, and I assume forever, I have never been in a fight or performed an act of violence. It's almost impossible for me to even imagine a reason that could make me want to hit someone (except Sydney bouncers like this one -

I could never even hold a deadly weapon. As a teenager I always assumed if they tried to force me in the army they’d force me right back out when I treated the weapons like they were covered it smallpox. There is literally nothing you could do to even get me to hold a loaded gun. The best case scenario if it goes off is it misses someone by 364 degrees, and actually come to think of it my body would take more than 1 degree of a circle, and then there is up and down, but up has air and that's been excellent to me, and down has dirt which is my seventh favorite brown thing (chocolate and related products, brown haired ladies, pants from the seventies, wood, brown eyed girls, grizzly bears, dirt, then of course the obvious poo....rly designed helmets).

Still ok, a bullet could go many places, but one of them is in my flesh, or even in my bones and they don't deserve it, they’re not violent. It could even go into other people, and only some of them deserve it (mostly pop stars and boyfriends of girls I find cute).

Some people say holding a gun makes you feel strong, powerful, invincible, good at scrabble and other manly things, but I don’t care about those things. No guns for me please no sir no siree (apparently this phrase is a crap score in scrabble, no spaces allowed, stupid game). I'll take a fork over a gun any day.

So last Saturday I arrived at the gun range.

I was in Bathurst 200km west of Sydney. A couple of things you might like to know about Bathurst
- It was Australia’s first inland settlement, born in 1815, and now 196 years later, spurred on by small amounts of gold, freezing weather yet no skiing and Australians desperate fear of living more than 20 minutes from a beach, the population has swelled to nearly 31000!
- It is now most famous for a car race that attracts 70000 people and just two competitors, Ford and Holden. Each company has about 100 cars each and fans are either passionately Ford or Holden, and that's retarded. It's like supporting golf based on the ball manufacturer “I can’t wait for the Masters this weekend, I’m a Nike man myself” “Oh really, I want you to die, Titleist is way better, you motherfucker”. These are the people who if turn on a random TV channel cheer out loud if there is no commercial on, regardless of how crap the show. In fact these are the people who make it so the lead in show on TV affects the viewers for the next show. You don’t have to be loyal to a network you tools, pick up the remote and watch whatever you want.
- My fan, and friend, Andy Day of the Day brothers identical twin organization grew up there and invited me to come shoot his guns at a gun range.
- Supporting Ford or Holden in the Bathurst 1000 is as stupid as getting in a fistfight over which is the better condiment, salt or pepper.
- I like Nike balls better; they feel softer off my golf club, yet I wear a Titleist cap to the gym.

Upon arrival at the range there were various people shooting various guns at various targets and I felt immediately and overwhelmingly humble. It is surreal and scary to stand behind a row of young men (all men, women don't come here, they don't like how the ear-muffs mess up their hair) all shooting guns, knowing they could turn around and kill you, or fuck up and kill themselves. Especially as we drove in via a Vietnam Veterans memorial park, while I read a newspaper story about the Norway massacre.

Before I could jump in myself there was the little matter of the “new” safety test. To make sure that it was ok for the company to hand me a deadly weapon I first had to sign a form promising that I wasn’t a wanted criminal, that I never had an apprehended violence order taken out on me, and that I had no intentions of shooting anyone. Then I had to read a form with the rules on it, and promise to obey them.

Even thought the rules were far more stringent than I suspected they would be, with rules on never having the gun ever point anywhere other than directly towards the targets when loaded, and never being anywhere other than in a locked box when not on the range, and no shooting anyone in the face, it still felt a little light on safety to me. Then I realized that literally everyone else here was in possession of at least one fire arm, and had way better skills with them than me. Anyone’s ability to be dangerous here would last about three seconds.

Having been certified as being safe it was now time to learn how to use a gun. This took place on top of a garbage bin and broke twelve of the rules I had just learned, especially as the owner accidently left in on the bin for ten minutes, with no one watching it, in a place where any one could pick it up. Anyone’s ability to be dangerous here could be catastrophic.

It was time for me to shoot. I was lead to a small Russian semi-automatic 22, already in place in the firing box, pointing forward. Forgetting everything I had just learned I was coached in loading and preparing the gun, and stringently watched by an expert as I fired my first rounds. Pow (heart thumping) pow (deep swallow) pow (holy crap I am worried about violating even the slightest safety check) pow (please don’t accidently shoot myself) pow.

I was nervous as all hell firing my first shots. But the gun was pretty tame, yet powerful feeling, and surprisingly all of my first five rounds hit the target near the centre. I could actually be good at this.

I noticed a distinct unwavering feeling of having metal in my heart as I went through the rounds, getting use to using the gun, and feeling my nerves dissipate and my confidence rise.

Andy Day had pulled out the big bad boy Smith and Wesson 357 magnum revolver to my left, and as I shot the 22, I could feel the big boy shooting with a bang so intense you felt it in your whole body. Soon, as my skills grew, it was my turn with the big man, and wow it had kick and power. I was starting to like this. I was feeling that supremacy people who like guns say they like so much.

Over the course of a couple of hours I began to get more and more use to loading, preparing, dismantling and firing various guns. It was hugely fun. As I got better and better I began to unleash rounds faster and faster, feeling bullet shells flying all around me, and sometimes hitting me in the face. I did, for a rare time in my life, most certainly feel like a bad ass.

I began to shoot with my imagination running wild, disappearing into my mind and imagining many an old west/ modern action movie scenario. And it was now that I realized I had reached complacency, I'd dropped my safety standards, woops, plus I now badly wanted to run around doing rolls on the ground, jumping over car bonnets and firing at random targets in every direction. It became clear to me right then if I was going to continue to fire these things it would only continue to be fun if it continued to get more and more dangerous. So I put down my gun, and thought “I’ll probably never pick up one of those again, now who wants to play laser tag, cause I really, really want to shoot someone in the face right now, just for the fun of it”.

I am now someone who knows what it feels like to fire a deadly weapon. If war breaks out tomorrow I'm ready. And if I survive the first few weeks I'll almost certainly get complacent and shoot myself in the penis, but at least that’s way more smarter than passionately following a two horse car race.

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