April 25, 2012
I am not a gun person. I have fired both a handgun and a rifle, but I’m the type of person who calls ammunition “bullets,” instead of “rounds.”
I first held a gun in college. It was on a date, and the girl, perhaps trying to impress me, wanted to show me the little pistol she kept in her house.
“Fire it at the tree,” she said when we went outside. I squeezed the trigger and prepared myself to be awed by the power in my hand.
I dealt that tree a glancing blow and, frankly, felt underwhelmed by the whole snub-nosed deal, including the girl.
Several years later, out on a story, I wrapped by arms around an AR 15, a magazine-fed semi automatic assault rifle. The guy I was with used it primarily on a deeply secluded and wooded lot he sort-of owned. Technically, he and the others out there were squatters, but who was I to argue fine legal points with an assault rifle-owning quasi landowner?
And that’s where my informal relationship with firearms stood until this past Tuesday night.
As part of my effort to get out in the community, I signed on to participate in the Southern Pines Police Department’s Citizens Police Academy.
Under the patient and convivial tutelage of Bob Temme, the department’s community services coordinator, I and the other participants have spent the last few Tuesdays learning a different facet of the department. This past Tuesday night’s class moved out to the gun range on U.S. 15-501 reserved for Moore County’s law enforcement officers.
There, we met with members of Southern Pines’ Special Response Team. These are the geared-up, camo-clad dudes who show up on the doorsteps of the big, the bad and the barricaded. They serve under the direction of Lt. Nick Polidori.
Polidori walked us through the series of weapons he had there for us to try. The bigger lesson to me came through clearly: keep the weapons pointed downrange.
Once it came my turn to shoot, I donned the required bullet proof vest, hearing protection and eyeshield and headed downrange.
For the first time in my life, I was walking toward gunfire.
How'd it go? I'll write all about it in my Friday column.