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by Katherine Page
Rifle shooting has a new addict. This weekend I finally learned to use a rifle. And it was so much FUN!
I've never been afraid of firearms or had any kind of aversion to them. I grew up with the attitude that they're tools for various jobs -- hunting, defense, competition, etc. They simply exist, and what they do depends on the human hands who hold them. I've always wanted to learn how to shoot, but other things got in the way --no time and a million other excuses. I recently decided that this would be the year to learn to use a rifle and a handgun. In November, I bought my sweet little Ruger 10/22 Carbine. She's a pretty girl with a lovely wood stock.
The cost between a group class and a private lesson wasn't significant, so I signed up for a private class over two days. (Well, that and the places with group classes I e-mailed for information didn't answer my inquiries about signing up.) The first day, the instructor came to my home with a Ruger 10/22 tricked out with all sorts of good stuff, a lever action rifle (don't remember its name), Mod 98 Mauser, AR-15, and an air rifle. I spent a lot of time getting to know and understand the basics of safety, use, and care for the rifle, asking as many questions along the way as I wanted. Fully disassembling my rifle and putting it back together wasn't complicated at all. One of my dogs even got into all the action when he snuck away with my rifle's magazine while we worked on dry firing and chewed it up.
We met up at an outdoor range the next day, thankful for the spring-like weather. We hung my first target, loaded up my 10/22, and started firing. Oh, heck yes! The first shot went to the 6 ring, then I put a 2 inch cluster in the 7 ring. I adjusted my aim and put one cluster in the 9 ring and one in the 10 ring. We moved through the positions (skipped kneeling for my old knees). Once through the positions, we switched to centerfire. The instructor brought out the AR-15. I flinched at first, anticipating the recoil, throwing those shots out of the center; but once I convinced myself it wouldn't hit me in the face, all was well. I couldn't get a good hold on his Mauser, which I had been lusting after since I laid eyes on it, so I did not fire it. However, trying to get it into a position where it was secure against my shoulder with good cheek contact and the ability to see through the sights was a great lesson on the importance of a good fit. I fell in total love with the M-1 Carbine and CZ-452. They were comfortable to hold and fire. I ate cartridges for those like candy. I have a feeling I'll be adding multiple military surplus firearms to my collection. Firing the rifles was relaxing and challenged me to improve with each fresh target. It felt great to chew a 1-inch hole right near the center X with no aberrations near the end of the day.
Mostly men were using the range, however there was one other woman with her husband and a handful of teen boys using handguns and rifles with their fathers. I was happy to see a girl of about 10 learning from her father, too. I feel inspired and cannot wait to get back to the range! I'm excited, too, to start looking for a handgun.
By Katherine Page