I didn’t grow up with guns the way some people did. I was raised by my mom, so there were never guns in the house. But most of my friends had them and used them for hunting and target practice because I was raised in a rural area with lots of hunting and fishing.

My first time shooting a gun was a 12 gauge shotgun, trying to shoot a clay pigeon. I was around 13 and this guy who had become a family friend wanted me to experience something manly. The gun kicked me so hard I wanted to cry. I didn’t like it, and at 13 I was rather sensitive.

Along the way I shot guns with friends now and then, putting targets up in the sand dunes. I never hit a damn thing. I always made the assumption about myself that I didn’t have a masculine bone in my body and that guns just weren’t my thing. I was surprised one day when my two friends were shooting clay pigeons off a cliffside in an Oregon forest and I tagged along. They gave me a turn, which I hesitated to take because I didn’t want to waste bullets. But then I proceeded to hit almost every single clay pigeon they threw. One after the other, something in me locked up. I was in sync with the little flying discs, I would lock in, follow it, stay calm, and fire just a tiny bit below the pigeon and I nailed it every single time. I couldn’t believe it. By the end I had one shell left and no clays, so I handed my friend a piece of gravel. He tossed that tiny rock into the air and I locked in on it and shot it too. The dust sprang off it and it ricocheted off into the woods. When it was all said and done I had hit more clays then either of my experienced, gun owning friends had hit.

After that I felt like pretty hot stuff. Like I must have some natural shooting inclination. No, it was more like beginner’s luck. I eagerly went shooting again a couple weeks later and with a different kind of sight on the gun I felt blind and didn’t hit a thing. But I liked guns a lot more after that. I even got better with a handgun, which, if you have ever tried firing a hand gun, is not easy. I think the first five or six times I shot a hand gun I couldn’t hit my target at all. Now I’m lucky if I hit once or twice out of every clip. That’s why I always laugh at the people who nail distant headshot after headshot with pistols on the Walking Dead. How the hell?

I even bought my own shotgun eventually. But the I moved to southern California, and things just aren’t the same down here. Where I come from you can drive out a little ways, find a spot and shoot. Heck, one fourth of July I was at a friend’s house and we were shooting in his backyard (he lived in the boonies). It was awesome. Down here it’s not so easy, so I haven’t been shooting in a while. But if you’ve never done it, I think it’s worth trying out. There are a lot of misconceptions that go with never touching a gun. You can have your opinions about guns, I’m not trying to take those away, but we live in a world where guns exist in large amounts, whether you or I like it or not. Learning to use one can only further inform your opinion.

Now I want to go shoot clays with my Oregon friends. I miss those guys.

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Ethan