Friday, June 4, 2010

Targeting the MACHO myth

A favorite memory when I was younger was when my old man would take me out target shooting. I know that statement sounds a bit macho and sexist, but it really was a ‘mans’ thing then, uh at least the shooting part. My mother always seemed to encourage us to go as I think she knew it was good Dad/Son bonding time away from the normal home environment. As a family we would actually shop for ammunition, gun cleaning stuff, and of course the ubiquitous tan and black paper targets.

Probably one of these earliest excursions that I remember was to an abandoned missile silo somewhere on the outskirts of Denver, Colorado. My dad prepared a black satchel with the pistols while my mom brewed up a thermos of coffee and made some snacks for our adventure. Once there, we would set up cans and whatever we could find as targets. My Dad was an excellent shot and he tried to teach me proper breathing technique, how to pull vs. jerk the trigger, and the proper way to address the target ( … Hello Target! ) – Sorry, that has nothing to do with the story but I can never ‘address’ something without thinking of Art Carney using the similar gag ala the Honeymooners.

Later in life, I would repeat much of these same steps but with my wife ‘T’ in tow. Her family had not had a lot of experience with guns when she was growing up so it was exciting to learn some up-close weapons training and handling. We would go to the local police range to practice on those same stock styled paper targets from years ago. My wife learned quickly and she oddly was more accurate with the larger caliber pistols than the smaller .22 'plinker' guns. Later still, my daughter came along and we passed on the same target shooting tradition.

Like her mother, our kid is innately accurate with heavy caliber handguns. I probably would not have noticed it as much but unlike her parent’s ‘cheap’ targets, the young one insists on the bright orange and black ‘Splatter’ targets in the shape of HUMAN silhouettes. Beyond the human body painted on the front, just the target’s name ‘SPLATTER’ should give concern shouldn’t it? With every slug through the target’s rings, tiny fissures of white show around the hole, thus making the placement of your shot easier to see. My innocent little girl would rip the concentric 8, 9, and 10 rings up of that sad silhouette with glee and save her targets like they were time-honored trophies.

Since that time, our kid has gone off to college, in Texas no less - probably the perfect place for her? While most first year students were considering an art class elective, or maybe an intramural sport, our kid signed up for ‘Skeet Shooting’. A friend even brought a dead six foot snake in the back of his pick-up to show her what he had shot. I guess he knew she would appreciate his marksmanship? Yes, it turns out that gun skills are an equal opportunity employer. I’m proud that we have done our part to put that ‘macho’ stereotype myth to rest – or am I? Turns out they have an Equestrian team at my daughter’s university too, so I am beginning to wonder if my GIRL will end up majoring in cowBOY!?


  1. You've raised a well rounded girl! Good job!

  2. Gotta love it. :)

    As someone who hails from Canad-eh, you obviously must know that I'd never held, much less shot a pistol or revolver.

    Fast forward to five years ago when I moved to the U.S., and one of the first things hubby did was get me to go target shooting with him at his gun club's range.

    It was a mistake. I had beginner's luck. I blew him away. (Ok, not LITERALLY!) I hit the bullseye 7 times out of 10. Not bad for a beginner, eh? (I shot with a .22 - but I can't remember now if it was a pistol or revolver - I'd have to ask him.)

  3. Interesting how good and how quickly some beginning shooters become. Maybe nobody has filled them stories of how hard it is, nor roadside can-shooters haven't taught them bad habits. (Like shooting by a roadside.) The guy in our Army platoon who got the Distinguished Rifleman award never touched a firearm before. We don't need to kill to learn the discipline and enjoyment of shooting.