Even though I had a buttload of work to do at the end of business day Friday, I took off promptly at 5, resisting the urge to inform my boss “I’m going to the firing range.” Yes, uptown to the Westside Pistol and Firing Range (which, contrary to my earlier suspicions, isn’t located near the docks and hookers on 12th Avenue but rather in the Flatiron neighborhood, just down the street from Fleur du Sel. Funny.) to meet up with my friends for our introduction to .22 Ruger rifles. For a modest fee of fifty bucks, we got an hour-long instruction class (which took place in a room reminiscent of a driver’s ed academy), free pens (!!!), free beverages, 50 bullets, three targets, and unlimited time on the firing range.

The instructors were all friendly and helpful to the point of being solicitous, an odd thing considering the fact that we were a group of 3 crusties, 2 hipsters, and a (self-described) Mansonesque leader. You’d think these guys dealt with malcontents in Crimpshrine t-shirts on a daily basis.

We were all remarkable marksmen, it turned out, upon examination of our holey targets. I briefly contemplated what sort of career change I could make with such a realization. But no joke–the basic bull’s eye target, the professional 50-foot target, and the Scary Mugger Guy were all impressively and accurately riddled. My only shortcoming came with the Scary Hostage Taker with Hostage (which actually resembled less a police drama stillframe and more a ’70s gay S&M porno.) at 50 feet–I took ’em both down, which I gather is frowned on in the law enforcement community.

I left my pals at the range after going through 100 bullets, because I was beginning to feel some very disquieting stirrings in my id as I looked down the barrel. Not in an “I-Don’t-Like-Mondays” way, mind you, but in a sort of “I-could-get-used-to-this” way. Westside also offers a training course for 9mm rifles, which I’m tempted to sign up for. If I go back, it’s half-price. At what price my bleeding heart inner opprobrium, though? As I left the range, I saw a sign at the entrance: Gas masks in stock.

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