April 18, 2010

Lessons From Learning To Shoot A Gun


Back in high school I was in ROTC. For three years I was actively involved in learning all things military, and I loved it. I had great friends in ROTC who didn’t think it was crazy to learn how to use a weapon, read a map, take proper care of the flag and other random acts of militaria.

Growing up I never imagined I’d ever fire a weapon, much less take lessons and practice. And practice. And then practice some more. Most often we used the traditional bullseye targets. I never thought I’d point a gun at a target shaped like a person and take proper stance and fire. But, I have to tell you it was pretty cool. Not in a psychopathic, lunatic, crazy-person kind of way, but cool in the way of being able to do something that required focus and concentration and mastery of technique.

I was about 15 when I learned how to fire a rifle. But before you can fire a weapon in ROTC you have to learn how to take it apart and put it back together again. Without having parts left over. Without damaging the weapon. And then be able to put a rifle back together in just a few minutes. Timing was everything, and it was part of our grade.

I learned how to shoot a rifle in the standing, kneeling and prone positions. It was ROTC, and I was fortunate to be doing this with several other female cadets. It was all so very normal. Just part of our class. This was long before Jonesboro and Columbine. And it was all within the scope of our military training. Honestly, it was an awesome feeling being able to out-shoot the boys in my class.

I skewed more toward geek than cool kid. I hung out with the smart kids. And the best part of ROTC was that many of those smart kids were also in ROTC, so it wasn’t because of that I was a geek. Shooting a gun and becoming a Marksman didn’t really do much to enhance my chances of becoming a cool kid. I didn’t mind though because I was happy to excel at something that not every girl in the 1980s got to do.

I became a marksman in both rifle and pistol. That was 20+ years ago. But learning how to shoot these weapons taught me valuable lessons. It taught me focus and concentration. I learned how to trust myself and rely on my own instinct. I also realized that if I wanted to do something, I would learn how to do it properly and then work to be the best I could be.

That part of my life is done. I’m thankful for all that it taught me. And, if nothing more, it makes for interesting conversation.



Allissa Emslie April 18, 2010 at 2:41 pm

Thanks for sharing this. I really enjoyed reading it…seems apropos since I’m working on that and can’t wait to take my first tactical handgun class : ) I always envied the ROTC class (military blood in me, I guess)—girls in my family were not permitted to participate (Who knows my parents’ crazy thinking)–so it’s really neat to hear your story…I always learning something new and interesting about you : )

Sara April 18, 2010 at 9:42 pm


Being able to use a weapon properly can bring great confidence. It is a huge responsibility, though, if you own one. But that’s an entirely separate topic. Enjoy your training, I’ll look forward to hearing more.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: