Everything I know about both the legal profession and criminal activity comes from watching Law and Order. So when Mark asked if I wanted to fire his rifle while we went out to the woods to check on his trail camera, the only thing I knew for sure was that most people forget to wipe down the clip when attempting to remove their fingerprints from a gun.
I’m pretty sure that wasn’t going to help me here.
Mark is a hunter and I’ve learned all sorts of interesting things from him and from reading material in his house (including a magazine spread on what different types of deer poop mean and a recipe for braised muskrat).
I’ve learned the trail camera is set up in areas where he hunts. With the aid of a motion sensor, it takes pictures of animals moving around the site. This weekend’s trip to check out what the camera caught was a virtual jackpot — 135 photos including one of two bucks with their antlers poised to fight and one of a coyote lurking through the woods during the night.
(I, of course, look at the photos as a fun exploration of nature while BBM gets excited about hunting season. It’s my plausible deniability which makes this work, much like my naming of his mounted deer head in his living room. I say hi to “Hank” every time I visit.)
After procuring the camera images, Mark asked if I wanted to shoot his rifle. Just a few hours before, I had completed a combined 77 miles on the bike and run and my dash of refueled energy was starting to fade. Still, his practical giddiness at the images from the trail camera transfered to me and boosted my mood.
“You don’t have to,” he reassured me. “But it would be a new experience.”
And with that he said the magic words.
It would be a new experience. And I’m all about stretching outside my comfort zone, trying new things, having new experiences. OK. Let’s do it.
With the target set up, Mark explained the rifle, went through the steps with me, then he fired to demonstrate.
I could say that I stepped up, took the rifle, held it Annie Oakley-style and fired. But that would be, what do they call it, oh yeah, a lie.
Instead, we set the rifle up on a stand, I knelt down, Mark zoomed the scope in and helped me line up my shot. (Among the things I physically can not do is close one eye, so BBM held a hand over my left eye so I could look through the scope with my right eye. I also can not whistle. Just for the record.)
OK, now all I had to do was pull the trigger back slowly. There are so many ways this could go wrong, my mind started to think, but instead, I concentrated on keeping that cross which appeared in my magic viewfinder on the target.
In fact, if you look at the target, guess who was closest to the center? That would be me. Frankly I don’t care if it was only 15 yards with a super-zoomed in scope while kneeling with Mark covering my left eye and coaching me over my shoulder. Doesn’t even matter that I was closer than Mark either. My goal was simply to hit the cardboard and not, you know, us by mistake.
While there is no chance I’ll be registering with the NRA any time soon or exploring the sport of biathlon (in part because I also have never been cross-country skiing), shooting the rifle actually was a fun experience. Part of the enjoyment came from doing something new, from going outside what I know, from stretching my comfort zone just a tad. But another part of the enjoyment came from letting go of past voices which would have come at me with a hundred different types of criticisms before, during and after. Instead, I allowed myself to just enjoy the moment.
At one point during the excursion, I was holding a box of ammunition and was a bit intimidated by the entire thing.
“I feel dangerous,” I said, in a timid, leery tone, somehow concerned that the box would spontaneously combust.
“You ARE dangerous,” Best Boyfriend Mark said.
I took that as compliment.