Yesterday, for the first time in my life, I shot a gun.
I didn’t think that I would ever, ever do something like that. I’m a self identified pacifist, but my beliefs on gun control are somewhat muddled. Anyway, enough about the politics about it. The experience was incredible.
I was over in Yakima visiting my grandparents when I got a call from my buddy Ben, who was up from Portland and visiting his parents, who also live in Yakima. (You might recognize Ben as the drummer from Archeology, who spent 3 weeks trapped in my tiny car on tour this summer.) I was delighted when he called and asked if I wanted to come out to his parents house for dinner. He gave me the address and I told him I’d be there as soon as possible.
It took nearly an hour from my grandparents house to his parents place, which was on the other side of the Yakima Valley. I drove out of the city, over a few winding country roads, and up an unmarked gravel road before I finally found the Haysom residence. When I did, I found myself standing in a beautiful home overlooking the valley, a plate full of warm food, and introductions to a dozen family members who I promptly forgot the names of. It was all quite lovely, but lovely was not what I came for. I had been promised the opportunity to shoot a gun, and I was determined to do it.
After a quick dinner, we hopped on this rugged looking ATV, properly branded “The Bush Hog,” and set off up into the hills. What started as a gravel road quickly turned into a dirt path as Ben drove the vehicle higher and higher into the trees. I think he sensed my nerves as we drove over the rocky terrain because he then reminded me that “as long as you have your seatbelt on, we should be good. We’ve got a roll cage in case I drive off the path.” I laughed. I was terrified, but the best kind. We saw a buck bounding across the path, then flew passed an old wooden building that served as a Department of Natural Resources lookout for wildfires.
Just before sunset we got to the summit, a large dry clearing that reminded me that we really were in the desert. There was an incredible view and I could see all of Yakima, White Swan, and where my grandparents farm was, had some hills not been in the way. Ben took out the little pistol from his belt holster and put the black gleaming hunk of metal into my hands. I was surprised by the weight of it, but held on. After a brief demonstration from the guy who has been shooting guns longer than I’ve been able to ride a bike, I cocked the .22, aimed, and pulled the trigger.
The shot broke the dead silence on the mountaintop, leaving my ears ringing. “It’s kinda like having another penis,” Ben said, before taking a shot into the open air himself. I couldn’t comment.
He opened the barrel and handed me the empty shell as a souvenir. The sky began to darken as we climbed back in the ATV. Ben drove recklessly down the mountain. I held on tight, hair whipping in my face and the cool evening air on my skin; the hollow shell perfectly safe in the pocket of my jeans.