“Tara, seriously, could you even hit the broadside of a barn?”
“Shut it! I am working on it.”
My replies to my brother had sifted through all the excuses I could muster. Now, I was just grasping at straws.
It must have been around February, the coldest and most brutal month for North Dakota. I am guessing mom and dad’s three kids had cabin fever, so one Sunday afternoon they took us out to the Sand Hills, the best place for practice shooting around our small, rural town, for a little friendly competition.
I don’t remember what we were using; my guess would be a 243 rifle. My sister had barely ever shot a gun in her life; my brother thought he was a professional; I, like usual, was somewhere in the middle, trying desperately to shoot like my brother and not to shoot like my sister, which was tough work.
My dad had set up targets roughly 80 yards away, and we took turns aiming, squeezing, and shooting, while dad whispered tidbits of tips and tricks into our ears. Things had taken a dramatic and surprising turn when my sister, some still refer to her as a minor diva to this day, was in the lead.
“Beginners luck,” I snorted as I attempted to distract her from her last round.
She took her three shots and squealed with delight, while my brother and I, the professionals, hung our heads in defeat.
My parents went so far as to make us trophies for this event. My sister was the champion, my brother runner-up, and I received Honorable Mention, no doubt a pity award. I still have this award to this day, in a keepsake box downstairs.
Guns have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. When I was too young to hunt, I would listen to the stories from my dad and granddaddy, and later from my brother when he became old enough.
I learned from an early age that my dad is the safest, most responsible hunter in the entire seven continents, forcing us to respect and understand guns. In fact, for my dad, this was an absolute necessity.
Eventually, I got to accompany my dad and brother on a hunt, gun-less of course. I will never forget the first time I saw a deer go down. All became quiet as my dad raised his rifle– all except for the deer who obliviously pawed the ground and my rebellious heart that would absolutely not stop beating roughly three times faster than usual, no matter how much I told it to shut up.
I didn’t know it then, but my dad was using this experience as some sort of test: would his daughter be a hunter or wouldn’t she?
My thrilled and buzzed reaction following the shooting made the answer pretty clear to him.
Growing up, nearly everyone I knew had a houseful of guns. It was actually extremely rare for a family not to hunt in some sort of season, whether it be birds, deer, or just small game.
I never viewed guns as a way of protection when I was a girl, except for one fierce moment when my dad and I heard an unknown creature crashing through the woods on a hunt. I raised my rifle, just to protect myself. Other than that, guns were for hunting and shooting targets, plain and simple. That was all I needed them to be.
Times have changed. I read the news. I know the evil. And most of all: I have a family I would kill for.
To hold to the lie that there is not an evil in this world that we, however rarely, may need to defend ourselves against is pure ignorance, and honestly remarkable wishful thinking.
Guns offer a security that the world cannot provide.
When I crawl into bed at night, my husband working late and my son down the hall, paranoia never fails to grip me, keeping my eyes wide and listening for unfamiliar sounds. However, when my mind quiets itself and remembers the three handguns we have responsibly littered throughout our bedroom, my eyes close and I welcome sleep.
Women have been known to disappear on their runs in the rural west. A woman can look very vulnerable running alone on an open, gravel road. I am quite certain I will never be that woman.
When I read an article on Facebook that was too alluring to pass by, explaining the strategies of sex-traffickers in grocery stores, it terrifies me, haunts me, like it does many parents. However, I know, if the time came, I would have all the equipment necessary to protect my son.
Do I doubt my ability to pull the trigger on a human being? Yes.
Do I doubt that my reaction time would be quick enough to stop evil? Yes.
However, do I have the practice, know-how, and therefore the courage to stop an armed gunman? Absolutely yes.
I promise you that if you are threatening my life, my son’s life, or my husband’s life, I would not hesitate and I would not miss. I also certainly hope, and pray, if I were to ever see you threatening the life of any individual, entirely unrelated to myself, I still would not hesitate, nor would I miss.
Things have changed since the shooting competition in the Sand Hills. I really very rarely miss.
I am not here to discuss politics. To be honest with you, I don’t follow politics closely enough to argue gun-control rights with you. I just know the Liberal agenda terrifies me and looks like evil reincarnate, which very rarely speaks the truth to American citizens, viewing most of us as complete bozos.
So, I know one thing for sure…
My gun. My family. My right.