In my previous post, I recalled the more serious aspects of my weekend for my imaginary readers regarding my attendance at the Concealed Pistol License Instructional Course required to apply for a CPL. Read that post! It covers the somber decision to consider your right to own and carry a gun in Michigan.
But in my own imagination, I am a humorous and delightful blogger, therefore I must also share the lighter side of my weekend.
I packed up Twinkie the Tin Can on Friday morning and hit the road under sunny skies and warm weather. It didn't occur to me to check the weather forecast. I hadn't camped in Twinkie since October of last year, so you can understand my excitement to spend three days in my other home, my home of the heart. Actually, if you've never lived in Twinkie, you most likely won't understand my excitement, in which case I feel sorry for you.
I normally camp in State parks, enjoying spacious sites and scenic settings, but my options were limited for camping within a close distance to the Caledonia Sportmen's Club where I would spend Saturday and Sunday learning about guns and the law. The only campground available to me was at least in the middle of nowhere, the way I like it, but didn't offer much else. No worries. Camping is camping. I would have preferred, however, that my fire ring was bigger than 18 inches and not placed a foot away from the bushes, but the subsequent rain acted as an effective deterrent from starting a brush fire, so it was all good.
The course and its fine instructors were a serious matter, but the weekend had its lighter moments. I met some very interesting women who ranged from completely ignorant about weapons (that would be me) to mildly comfortable around guns to knowledgable shooters who can and have killed their own dinner. There were professional women, retired women, a mom-and-daughter duo, stay at home moms, and women who work hard just to get by. We were collectively young, old, trying to be younger than we are and anxious to be considered mature adults. We were scared, excited, unsure, and confident. We had a common goal, and it was enough to bridge the gaps that in certain social settings tend to separate women. I loved it! It was great to be in a room full of women where our differences didn't matter because we all came together to learn how to protect ourselves and our families. Isn't it awesome when the one thing we all have in common matters more than the many ways in which we are different?
Most of us, at some point, asked a question that I'm sure made the male instructors roll their eyes later, but the guys were patient and answered all our questions without making us feel stupid. I can only imagine how nerve-racking it must have been for the three guys to stand in front of a bunch a gals holding guns with no idea how to use them, but these guys have nerves of steel and the ability to be aware of the slightest wrong movement from a hand holding a .45 and quickly but gently correct us. At one point, though my gun was unloaded, I found myself pointing it right at Gary while chatting with him. He slowly reached out and pressed my gun down, reminding me of my major mistake in forgetting the First Rule of Gun Safety. I was so embarrassed, but I also didn't forget the transgression and never made that mistake again this weekend. I made plenty of other mistakes, but not that one.
When I originally planned this weekend, I wasn't thinking of applying for a CPL so I could own a gun and carry it in my purse while shopping for groceries, or keep in my nightstand in the event of a nighttime intruder. I really just wanted to see how difficult it would be to have a gun with me when I'm camping or hiking, so I could conquer my fear of snakes by shooting them. I was informed by Lee that I can't really do that. For one, it is frowned upon to discharge a gun in the woods of a state park, and secondly, I would have to be a pretty damn good shooter to actually hit the snake. But I am also planning a trip to Alaska, and Lee pointed out that there are gizzly bear in Alaska and it would be a good idea to carry a fairly powerful gun there. Good point.
Even though I didn't consider the option of carrying a concealed weapon in my everyday life, Lee and Gary pretty much scared me sufficiently into thinking it might not be a bad idea. Seriously, if I'm out in the woods alone, then someone else could be out in the woods alone, and that someone may see me as a golden opportunity for foul play. Since I don't see myself as such an opportunity, it took this class to make me realize that as much as I want my beloved woods to be my safe haven, it isn't. Which also leads me to realize that as I am sitting in Twinkie writing on my blog at 1:00am, I'm not all that safe here either. The newly discovered leak in the roof and the thunderstorm raging outside are less of a concern now than the potential for bodily harm. The reed on the ground outside my camper that I keep staring at through the window in the fervent hope that it doesn't move and turn out to be a snake is not as worrisome as the fact that no one else is near and those further down the lane wouldn't hear my cries for help through the storm. After everything I learned from Lee and Gary this weekend, I am coming to the realization that guns aren't so scary when you become familiar with them and understand the law concerning your rights and responsibilities. The idea of being unarmed in the event of a threatening attack is, however, scary indeed. So I am in the unexpected position of reconsidering my purpose in contemplating a CPL and gun purchase. I came here dreaming of killing snakes and grizzlies, and now I am facing the nightmarish thought of the possibility of needing to point a gun at an attacker. But as Lee so eloquently stated, if it comes down to me and an attacker, I want to be the one who lives. It's not about winning, it's not about killing. It's about surviving.
I liked the part of the weekend where the instructors were yelling at us, goading us into yelling at an imaginary attacker (kinda like my imaginary readers) before rapid firing into a moving target. One of the gals, in the heat of the moment, screamed "GET THE HELL OUT OF MY HOUSE!" at her imaginary attacker, which got a laugh from those of us observing her ability to warn the bad guy before shooting him. Another girl warned her paper target rapist over and over "I have a gun and I will shoot you, I have a gun and I will shoot you" then she yelled "I am shooting you NOW" as she let loose 6 bullets into his paper chest. As if the attacker didn't realize she was shooting him. Maybe you had to be there, but it was funny. I honestly don't know what I yelled, because my adrenaline level was so high at that moment I can't remember much except firing the gun and seeing five holes in the target, which led me to believe that Lee knew what he was talking about when he discussed tunnel vision.
I also liked watching this group of women calmly conquer their fear of firearms and accepting that it is a cruel fact of society that we have a need to protect ourselves. I liked the look on their faces when they turned around after shooting a weapon for the first time, the look that said "I am not weak; I am capable". I liked meeting Margaret, who is smart and funny and seems so happy, yet turned serious on a dime when she picked up a gun. I think, if we had spent more time together, we might have become friends. She has an adventurous streak as big as mine!
My favorite part of the weekend though was meeting Lee, Gary, and Nick, the three instructors whose passion for the Second Amendment is backed by their extensive knowledge and expertise in weaponry. It is always inspiring to see people in action promoting something they believe in fully, sharing their talents and intelligence with those of us who have much to learn with open minds.