Monday, September 14, 2009

DAY 23

Coming off of a good day yesterday, I can't help but think today will be hell. That's how it normally works in news... It must be the collective news karma that does it. Walking into work and discovering my fate is door knocking on a widows front step kills an excitement buzz like none other. But I'm not jinxing myself yet. Yesterday I was told that I will be shooting a photographers piece on an annual machine gun shoot at a local shooting range. Fingers crossed, that plan hasn't changed.

When I walk in the newsroom the only dayside reporter is already out getting a pkg about some hikers that were lost in the woods overnight. That's good for me because it means that I'm on my own today. I quickly call and set up the story at Dragon Man's... Now they have to let me do it!

I twiddle my thumbs till ten thirty... When I'm supposed to be leaving for the range. That's when I hear a rather unfortunate medical call come across the scanner. "RP is reporting that the victim is sliced in half. Old Pueblo Rd..." Silence. Part of me wants to slip out the door before our assignment editor turns his attention to me. I could pretend that I forgot my phone at home, or it was on vibrate and I didn't hear it... And then I could still do my story. But I stay planted in my seat, and sure enough, within seconds he tells me to head that way. DAMN! I was actually excited for the machine guns.

When I get to the scene I immediately notice a covered body laying next to a large yellow tractor. Police tape surrounds the area and police are walking up and down the dirt drive... Looking important, but doing nothing. I shoot as much video as possible for the side of the road and head out quickly... If I hustle I can still make it to Dragon Man's before all the cars are blown up.

Forty five minutes later, gun shots already ringing in my ears, I pull off Curtis Dr. into Dragon Mans. Deep breathe, here goes nothing. I immediately notice Mel, the Dragon Man, talking to some customers outside the shop. After a quick handshake, he hurries me down to the range... Time for the flame thrower! Six people telling me where to stand, a crowd of about a hundred surrounding me with cameras, and Mel dressed in the most absurd outfit that I've ever seen, leads me to believe that I'm in for more then I've bargained for. Then I hear... The flame thrower is homemade! Oh no...this could quickly turn from a "happy machine gun story" to a "dead gun range owner story."
Luckily no one is injured in the flame thrower display. The crowd disperses and I am left mingling amongst the uber conservative gun slingers with "GOD HATES LIBERALS" plastered across their camo t-shirts. This is where I turn on the charm, and keep my political inclinations to myself. I'm pointed to the owner to, who tells me about the fantasies people fulfill when they come shoot their machine guns. "maybe they saw Rambo on tv last night... Now they can come out here and fulfill that fantasy. They can shoot with the gun that Rambo used." I let him finish before I throw in my jibe about how none of my fantasies include shooting machine guns. Luckily, he lets in slide and the interview continues.

In between great sound bites I jump at the bangs and boombs that continually ring out. Everyone around me keeps telling me to relax, but how do you relax when there are hundreds of automatic machine guns blasting right next to you? Once again, I find myself out of my element.
One hour later, after watching an original world war 2 canon shoot a car on fire, and a six year old shoot a gun bigger then him, I've gathered enough video that I can muster. Plus, my ears are begging me to leave... I need a better set of ear plugs.
Before I do so however, I need to give these babies a try. Alan, my earlier interview, has been hounding me about getting behind one of the guns the entire time that I've been here. I decide to give in to his wishes and try one out.

He puts me behind a Russian PKM, or what he calls "the bad guy gun." He gives me a quick tutorial about how to stand and where to look. I stupidly inquire, "is it going to jump back at me and hurt my face?" He laughs and points to the tripod... Obviously not. The next dumb question to come out of my mouth is, "so will it fire a bunch of bullets at once?" Again, he laughs. I guess that is a yes. Like I said, I know nothing about guns.

Finally I get in place and pull the trigger. I can't really see what I'm supposed to be looking at, and I'm sure that I look like a total idiot. I stand up and give him a glance... I think I'm doing something wrong. "are you left handed?" he inquires. "No." "Well are you looking out of your left eye?" "ummm.... Yes." "well, then you need to be shooting left handed."

"Well that would be nice to know!" I switch to the other side and fire it again... Much better! After a few rounds go off, most likely hitting absolutely nothing, I step back and give my mentor a high five! Wow! What a rush! Who knew firing a gun could feel so liberating. Now, I'm still the same Buddhist pacifist that I was before. Guns are bad mmmmmmk. I'm all for outlawing gun ownership, and keeping machine guns to military use only. But, and this is a big leap for me, I do admit shooting was fun. There I said it! I'm a little ashamed. But its true. It was a rush like no other... And yes, it was fun.

Here is the story that I put together after the whole ordeal...

1 comment:

  1. Dear Jessica,
    Great story, looks like fun, wish I was there.

    Uncle Bill