Shots fired

One student’s experience at a shooting range

Streisfield shooting at Lock & Load in Miami, FL.
Erika Streisfield

If you think Call of Duty is exhilarating, try shooting guns in real life. 

I headed out recently to a shooting range to blow off some post-exam stress with my mom and sister. That’s right, three women and a copious amount of artillery.

And, where better to shoot guns than at Lock & Load in Miami, Florida?

While the beach was a main attraction, shooting guns was way more enticing, and to be honest, right up my alley. 

When I was 16, I studied abroad in Israel and attended a one-week training camp on an education army base. It was a strict and tiresome program to say the least, but at the end of it I got to shoot an M16. I remember it being such a thrill, feeling every bullet leave my gun as I pulled the trigger and it kicked back.

It was only a couple of weeks ago that I revisited my glory days and upped the ante on my gun game. I traded in my M16 experience for some machine guns. 

Upon my arrival at the shooting range, I experienced mixed feelings of nervousness and excitement. Firing a gun is a serious risk and huge responsibility. Every fired bullet is potential death — they don’t teach you that in Call of Duty. 

Before we entered the range, we had to sign away our lives — you know, in case anything happened. 

Thankfully, our instructor for the day was an experienced shooter, having served in the U.S. army for several years. He taught us everything from gun safety to loading a gun and firing it. 

We quickly got suited up with earplugs, headphones and glasses. 

I had the opportunity of shooting four guns that are famous for their cameos in 007: the HK MP5, HK UMP, HK G36 and a Glock 18 submachine gun. 

For those of you who aren’t fluent in gun lingo: the guns were huge and powerful. If it weren’t for my instructor supporting me, I would have been blown off my feet by the gun’s kickback.   

When it came time to shoot, I was the first to volunteer. I positioned the HK MP5 into my shoulder with one hand on the trigger and the other supporting the gun. 

I set up my body in a type of power stance and aimed the gun straight at the target. It helped that all the guns had a red laser target, so I could see exactly where I was shooting. At times, alternating between the target’s head and heart. 

With adrenaline pumping though my veins, I pulled the trigger. I shot a couple of times in semi-automatic (that is, a slow release of bullets), eventually building up confidence to shoot in automatic (fast and continuous shots). 

I felt like badass — not to mention, I had good aim as I hit the same spots close to the center of the target. Watch out, gentlemen! 

But if you thought I was good, you should have seen my mom — that woman was a natural. She was hitting the target dead on, putting the rest of us to shame. I always knew my mom was a “cool mom”, but never did I think that she was good with guns. I guess I have good genes? 

The experience went by all too fast. In a matter of 20 minutes I’d shot all four lethal machine guns. I so desperately wanted to shoot more — if only the sport wasn’t so costly. Thanks, mom!  

As we left the range, our instructor awarded us with special medals, claiming it was a tradition in their ex-army family at the range. At that moment, I felt like I graduated machine gun training. What’s next? Explosives.

All the way home, my sister and I raved about the experience. Participating in an activity so lethal was one of the most exhilarating things we’ve ever done. That day, we all took a walk on the wild side, and to be honest, we loved it — especially my mom.  

Rachel MacDonald, ArtSci ’18, has also had her fair share of experience with shooting guns. MacDonald shot her first gun on a family’s ranch in West Virginia. Her uncle and cousins set up a gun range on their farm, where they would shoot at makeshift foam targets. One day, MacDonald’s uncle casually asked her if she wanted to try shooting. And so she did. 

“There’s no way to not make that sound redneck. It’s just so unfortunate,” MacDonald said. 

But for MacDonald, her experience wasn’t so much a thrill as it was scary. 

“I was terrified because I’ve heard so many horror stories of people who’ve shot themselves in the foot or something by accident,” MacDonald said. “I’m so uncoordinated, so I was very convinced that was going to be me and I was going to be the person to shoot myself or someone.”

But once things were all said and shot, MacDonald felt relieved. 

“It was an experience,” she said. “I’m not sure if I necessarily enjoyed it. It was just scary the whole time. It was cool, I mean after it was all over and I realized I was okay.”

Shooting guns isn’t your average recreational activity. Both MacDonald and I experienced a unique opportunity that you wouldn’t necessarily come across on a day-to-day basis, especially here in Canada.  

For me, shooting those machine guns was a thrill. While I do enjoy sitting on a beach, reading magazines and listening to girly pop music, my alter ego craves adventure and risky business — shooting guns satisfied just that. 

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