Monday, April 29, 2013

Home on the Range

Spending a full day with one's boys is a gift.  Teen and almost teen they are, and I can see that horizon of their adulthood coming into view in the far distance.

So that my Saturday was spent with them, the guys and me, was most excellent.  It was one of those memorable days, made more so by our delightful night-long bit of paranormal adventure in the darkened 1827 manse.

Amazing, how spending a long night in an intentionally darkened old creaky building can stir the imagination.   That was the stuff of hours, and gave us an hour of great footage for my "ghostbusting" history of that neat but...er..."well-worn" building.

But that was how our day ended.

Our day in Poolesville began with the outing I bid for and won in the church auction.   Shepherded by one of my stalwart Session members, it was a journey to the local chapter of a hunting/fishing conservation organization, just under two hundred acres of gorgeous Maryland countryside.

There, we were to spend time on a range, with a Whitman's sampler of different firearms.  It had been years, almost literally decades, since I'd fired a gun.  As a flagrant liberal, the sort of guy who shows up to the range in a Prius, wearing Chucks and an Ironic Jesus T-Shirt, I suppose it might seem somewhat out of character.  I've preached against gun violence from the pulpit, and I likely will do so again.

But I'm a liberal more than I am a leftist, so I like actually experiencing the reality of things rather than making pronouncements from a foundation of ignorance.

That helps understand them.   It helps, frankly, with the whole "love your neighbor" thing, which is kind of a priority for me.

Plus, I've not forgotten my boy-self.  It is still part of me.  I like fire, and smoke, and things that go boom.  Both of my lads are also boys, and so presented with the opportunity to go target shooting, they were thrilled.

My previous shooting had been, well, of the young and irresponsible kind.  I'd go out into the countryside with friends with my shotgun and a box of shells, we'd find an empty space far away from other human beings, and we'd just blast things.  We'd come back with grins and ringing ears.

But going to the range, well, that was different.  It was entirely volunteer run, but that didn't mean it was slack around the edges.

It was tight.  Once we were on-range, things shifted.  From the moment you arrived to the moment you left, a careful and intentional sequence of protocols established the framework for safety.  Safety posters with the NRA logo emblazoned on them were everywhere, and those rules and regulations weren't just window dressing.  Everyone responsible for the range was attentive to procedure, with the mutual and collegial understanding that these rules existed for a damn good reason.

Identification was required, as were forms establishing both awareness and liability.  Eye and ear protection were mandatory.  The range masters insured that everyone knew when the range was hot or cold, and that all appropriate preparations had been made for the transition between those two states.  The handling of the firearms was carefully observed, particularly with a gaggle of suburban noobs on site.  Nothing was left to chance, because everyone there knew and respected the firearms.  It was meticulous, but it was also mutual, with all eyes attentive for any risks that one set of eyes might miss.

It didn't get in the way of enjoying the afternoon.  Not at all.  It was a total hoot.

It felt free, but not chaotic.

"Well-regulated," one might say.

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