XoXo: Home, Home on the Range…

January 2018 marks the beginning of a new adventure for me! I am learning to properly and (most importantly) safely operate a gun!

For context, you should know that up until last month I had never even touched a gun in my life. To be perfectly honest, they have always made me feel uncomfortable and my clumsy self could only imagine the worst possible scenarios of me picking up a firearm.

A few weeks ago, I walked into Ranger Firearms in Fort Walton Beach with a friend of mine. I was awkwardly poking around the aisles feigning interest at some kind of pepper spray gun when the owner Sarah asked me if there was anything she could help me with. I confessed to her that I really wasn’t interested in guns and had never even touched one.

At that point, the mission became clear. Ranger Firearms happens to be the only female owned and operated gun shop in Fort Walton Beach and Sarah’s passion for teaching gun safety immediately shines when you meet her. Within 30 minutes she had explained to me the differences between firearms, their purposes and what your needs for one might be. The most shocking part is that I felt comfortable enough to even pick a few up for her to show me the proper way to hold them. We decided that despite being the furthest thing from my comfort zone, I would learn how to safely operate a gun this year.

After a visit to the store to decide on what gun I should start with, we landed on a Smith and Wesson .22 Semi-Automatic handgun. It was lightweight and compact enough that my little baby hands could maneuver it through the proper steps comfortably.

Today we made our first trip to the gun range. Obviously, I let Sarah have the first go. She’s an absolute boss. Then, it was my turn. I’m pretty sure my hands were shaking loading those first three bullets into the magazine. Not to mention I checked to be sure the safety was on at least three times.

When I finally pulled the trigger that first bang had me jump about a foot in the air. When they tell you these things are loud, they are not kidding. My first few practice rounds were all over the target and I was surprised at the shell casings flying in all directions. I’m pretty sure one landed in my hair at some point.

After practicing my stance, holding a firm grip on the gun and becoming comfortable in a routine of loading my last round actually ended up somewhere in the middle range!

If you’re going to take up shooting as a hobby or any other reason, remember to find a coach who makes you feel comfortable and emphasizes the importance of safety on the range.

Until we shoot again…


Mary Jo

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