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One of the problems I believe we have as a nation is the failure of both sides of our political parties to see commonalities or perspectives other than their own. I vowed a long time ago that I would not be the sort of liberal who could not relate to or befriend people with conservative views. In fact, close-minded liberals are a pretty major pet peeve of mine. They fuel the fire on the right wing, and I don’t think that’s a good thing.

I’m doing production work for my home theatre company Pinky Swear Productions, which has a show called “Killing Women” opening in just a couple of weeks. If you haven’t already guessed, it’s about female assassins, so we’ve been bantering back and forth about the possibility of learning to shoot guns, and I found myself intrigued at the idea. So when a smokin’ hot ex-Marine asked if he could take me to the NRA shooting range, I immediately said yes. An adventure I’d been thinking about taking, with a well-experienced guide.

One of the issues I’ve always been more moderate on is guns. For one thing, I grew up in a place where hunting to keep the deer population down is extremely valuable, and for another, I love watching action movies, so I’ll admit I think they are kinda cool. Yes, I know, I’m a slave to the evils of pop culture.

I think my stereotyped brain expected hicks and fierce-looking military guys, but in fact most people were almost overly normal looking. Jeans and polo shirts. On my right was a woman who looked like a nice housewife/mom sort in her 40s with her husband, and on my left was a family of Asian Americans, who proved to be loud as they were toting a rifle, the most serious weapon in the room.

The first lessons were of course safety: Never keep the gun loaded, always check to make sure the gun isn’t loaded, hold your finger to the side to make sure it’s not in the trigger well even if the gun has a safety on it, etc. I had to take a short written test to make sure I was qualified on the safety rules. Guns are only removed in the actual range, never anywhere else in the facility; there’s no one in the lobby cleaning or showing off his or her gun. It’s very, very controlled, and the NRA is very careful.

I had two layers of ear plugs in, but the sound was much like fireworks exploding. The thing that’s hard to describe is the feeling of reverberation that moves through the room, most especially when shooting the gun. The force was more intense than I expected, and I kept getting lectured about holding the gun tight so it wouldn’t wobble and jam up. About every other shot I took, I ended up jamming the gun ( a 9mm that looked just like in the movies), which was frustrating. But my aim was surprisingly better than I expected. Though I didn’t always hit right in the middle where I was supposed to, I always hit on the actual target somewhere, which as my Marine pointed out would have hit a suspect in the torso and likely taken him or her down anyway.

The rules I apply to lifting weights, running, skiing, and stage performances held true here. Breathe. Exhale when you pull the trigger and relax into the movement while keeping the body engaged and the spine straight. It’s amazing how the same body awareness I’ve been practicing played right into this. I found my competitive side was motivated to keep going and get better. It was indeed empowering and fun. I kinda felt like a badass.

What’s more, I can more clearly understand when people choose to have a home weapon and to teach their children. I liken it to sex education; if you are going to do it, you should be educated in how to do it as safely and cautiously as possible to protect yourself. I won’t make any statements about gun control laws or concealed weapons as I’m honestly not sure how I feel and because I don’t feel informed enough, but it was interesting and educational to see and hear a different perspective than I’m accustomed to and to try something outside my box.