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Guns and Me

From age twelve I always wanted to be a Heinlein character when I grew up. So I always knew I'd have to get around to learning how to use firearms someday. Also (partly as a result of early Heinlein exposure) I'm a libertarian with strong gun-rights convictions, and I've felt vaguely like a hypocrite for years not being armed myself. I finally got off my butt about this in early 1997, and have since discovered that I truly enjoy playing with guns.

Before picking up a weapon I took the NRA's safety and handling course. While I believe everybody has an inalienable right to be armed for self-defense, ignorance and unsafe gun-handling can kill you. Don't play stupid!

Before acquiring my own heat, I shot at targets with S&W .38 Special and .357 Magnum revolvers, a .44 Magnum single-action revolver, a S&W 9313 9mm semiauto, a Firestar .40 semiauto, a very odd pistol/SMG hybrid called a Calico, and a Colt .45 ACP. For comfort and accuracy I found the 9313 the best of the bunch, a sweet dream to shoot. But having done my homework, I'm partial to the big-slow-bullet theory of stopping power. And it happened that the first time I fired a .45 I scored a 30-foot bull's-eye, and that I was shortly afterward offered the opportunity to buy that same weapon. I jumped at it.

So my personal arm is a Colt M1991A Officer's Model semiautomatic pistol, the small-frame six-shot 3-5/8"-barrel version of the classic .45 ACP design. It's small enough to conceal but has excellent stopping power. Mine has a matte-black Parkerized finish, Pachmayr wraparound diamond-scale grips, and definitely looks like something you would not want to be staring down the business end of.

To my pleasure (and somewhat to my surprise when I started), I am a fairly good shot. At twenty-one feet, shooting my .45 two-handed from either Weaver or isosceles stance, I can reliably put a clip through the palm-sized heart area of a human-silhouette target, or I can call head shots and make them. At thirty feet, or shooting one-handed either hand, I've almost never missed the torso.

I attribute this to having trained in Tae Kwon Do for seven years before I started. The state of mind necessary to shoot accurately is the same combat no-mind you need to take into the sparring ring. And the training helps me maintain the upper-body strength to hold a steady sight picture with a .45 while staying fairly relaxed.

I'm hoping to get into tactical shooting, the kind of pistol-combat simulation the International Defensive Pistol Association does. This seems like it would be much more fun than stationary targets, which are beginning to seem too easy.

I bought my wife Cathy a Smith and Wesson Model 60 for her 1997 birthday (she'd taken the NRA course right along with me). This is a small-frame, five-shot alloy revolver with a bobbed hammer, designed for concealed carry. It's magnaported for recoil compensation.

There's a good story in that. Cathy and I weren't yet married when we started shooting, so when we went to Chester County Courthouse to apply for our marriage license, we had one other piece of unfinished business. So we exited the inner section of the courthouse each carrying two forms. The guards at the door, having worked there for years, of course instantly recognized the other form in Cathy's hand as an application for concealed carry permit.

One of the guards looks at me, looks at Cathy, looks at the form in her hand, looks at me, looks at the form, sidles up to me, puts a hand on my shoulder and murmurs loudly "You's not too late to back out."

Good thing I like tough-minded women, eh?

You can read the story of my first pistol shoot.

Back to Eric's Gun Nut Page Up to Site Map $Date: 2004/12/13 01:38:37 $

Eric S. Raymond <>