I realized that sometime in this month of March is my ten-year anniversary of entering the “Gun Culture”.
Sometime in March 2009 I made my first firearm purchase. It was a Gen 3 Glock 19. Although I asked for advice, and did a good bit of online reading before I made my decision, I did all of the shopping around completely by myself.
That’s why I can tell you from personal experience that things have DEFINITELY improved for women in the gun world in ten years’ time. I made my purchase in the store that treated me well and with respect – but they weren’t all like that.
People may ask what made me decide to purchase a firearm. It wasn’t that I felt unsafe, or had been attacked. It was just because I didn’t want firearms to be a great big intimidating mystery anymore.
I grew up in a hunting household. My dad was a lifelong outdoorsman and had quite a gun collection. It was not uncommon for Dad to clean his shotgun in the living room in front of the TV after a day afield. I remember well the smell of Hoppe’s #9 as a child.
But for some reason the guns thing just never rubbed off on me. When dad died, I didn’t know anything about any of the guns that were in his safe – yet his hunting buddies and my brother told stories about all of them. It made me feel bad that I had missed that legacy somehow.
I was still in pediatric residency at the time as a mid-life med student, but I decided that once I got done and settled, that I wanted to learn about guns.
So when I finished medical training, and passed my boards, I started asking questions about how to get started in shooting. I ended up with that Glock 19 and a date for a Basic Pistol Class on the calendar.
It’s hard for me to believe how far I have come in ten years’ time. I’m not going to tell you how many guns are in my safe now, but suffice to say that the Glock isn’t getting lonely, and there are rifles and shotguns too. It makes me wonder what my father would think of all this if he could see it now. And building my own AR from scratch? Who’d a thunk?
Not that I bit it all off at once mind you. My usual mode of operation is cautious baby-steps and lots of circumspection before I attempt something new. I tend to walk around the new thing, inspect it from a safe distance, read up on it, and watch it for awhile. Once my decision is made – then I jump in.
But even with all that circumspection, over the past ten years I went from one semi-auto pistol to *mumble mumble* guns, competing in everything from IDPA and USPSA to Steel, 3-Gun, and sporting clays, and now hunting.
While I have been decidedly average at the competition stuff, it gave me opportunities to work on my skills, travel, and meet all sorts of cool people from across the spectrum of the shooting world. I recommend competition to anybody who wants to move past just plinking all by themselves on a weekend. It’s way more fun than a Sunday golf game, and the people are usually more interesting too.
While my ten years at this shooting stuff has broadened my horizons considerably, I still consider myself just a learner. An “experienced” learner to be sure, but there is ALWAYS something new to expose oneself to, and a wise man or woman never stops learning.
Looking forward to what the next ten years has in store!