Make Mine a Smith and Wesson…

Koh Tao

I’ve had the urge to shoot a gun for a while and finally today the opportunity was upon me, for a just few thousand baht.

I’m staying in Koh Tao, a little island about one and a half hours off the east coast of mainland Thailand.

The strict and stringent rules in England, surrounding the use of firearms, means that it is more difficult to experience shooting these types of weapons in the UK, than here.

Do I agree with this – hell yeh. Am I glad I’ve finally had the opportunity try them out without restriction and legal compliance – again the answer is yes. There never seems to be one simple set of emotion, feeling or thought, when it comes to bringing to life one of your desires.

Yet I found it very different than I thought I would. The weapons of choice were a .22 calibre semi automatic rifle and a .38 smith and wesson revolver.

Uncertain of the procedure and with a very young looking guide, I initially felt unsure. The shooting range was dusty and well used but the gun cupboard had a secure locking door and he seemed to know what he was doing.

Koh Tao

For the first time in my life I held a loaded weapon in my hand. Surprised at the lightness of its size(rifle). ‘Is he just going to let me fire without any instruction?’ The question popped into my mind as I moved towards the range. Even more worryingly I then thought, ‘Am I going to pick this gun up and shoot without any instruction, if he does?’

Koh Tao

As I was wondering this, standing by my side he showed me the correct stance to take, how to hold the weapon and stayed close. I wondered about the recoil from the weapon, as I took aim and looked down the sight towards the target. I connected fully with the experience. The gun slotted nicely into my shoulder, feeling like it was born to be there. Taking off the safety, I fired. With the ear defenders on, I didn’t think it felt that loud or seemed that menacing, and to be honest my shot was pretty poor. It was interesting to realise the kind of thoughts I was having. Exactly why I wanted the experience, so that I would know how I felt when attempting the activity.

My mind turned to my upbringing and the present day – the representation of the use of guns in our different societies flickered across a mental screen. So readily shown as part of everyday life, influencing an unknown reality.

When my husband took his turn – I forgot on the first shot to put my ear defenders back on and the loud boom of the rifle reverberated around my ears. Then I began to connect with the capability and extent of power the weapon could distribute.

Around my turn came again. This time a .38 smith and wesson revolver, for a moment I felt like the gun slingers of old. Again it connected me with another part of myself. The part that grew up watching cowboy and Indian movies with my parents. I hadn’t connected with this part of myself so clearly since travelling across the Sierra Nevada. In no way could I contemplate placing this dangerous weapon in a holster anywhere close to my body. Maybe this was due to the lack of training – with more instruction, my thoughts may have been different.

As I took aim, supporting my right hand and weapon with my left. I cocked the hammer on the revolver. In that moment I realised the skill involved in shooting, as I looked to the target, gently squeezed the trigger,  took aim and fired. The shot made a larger, rounder sound across the range than the rifle, as the bullet flew towards the target. Rather surprisingly I thought.

All in all it was a somewhat surreal and strange experience. I felt emotional as I walked away, wanting to cry. My husband said that he felt sick – I definitely wasn’t expecting that. I suppose connecting with the damage that is done every day across the world, with the immense power the weapons possess, can be a humbling experience.

This experience has taught me, how glad I am to live in the UK where guns are not part of our cultural heritage. I felt a deepening of respect for learning the art of shooting properly and a level of sadness for the damage people cause, when using them to hurt others.

Would I love to have another go – you betcha, with more instruction and guidance. I’m glad I realised this desire – now I  wouldn’t mind developing the skill.

Koh Tao

Would you like to give gun slinging a go?


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