Wednesday, May 23, 2007


" Oh no, it's jammed again." Kylie looks in the top of the gun.

"Keep it pointed down range, girl," Jessie says. She takes her Glock back off Kylie, and rocks the slide back. "See? There's the shell stuck in there. Your wrists are too limp." She shakes it out, pulls out the magazine and slams it back in to reload. She hands it back to Kylie. "Now, one hand pushes forward, the other pulls back. Lock your elbows." She walks around behind Kylie and grabs her by the hips. BLAM! BLAM! BLAM! Kylie knocks over a metal pig. "Good girl," says Jessie.

Jessie seems to be standing unnaturally close to Kylie. This is looking all very Thelma and Louise. I leave Kylie in Jessie's clutches and wander back to the Practical Pistol course. People are sauntering about, guns slung on hips, ammunition clipped to their belts. Mr Smith is racing through the commando course with his chrome Infinity weapon and its holographic sight held out in front of him. The other Mr Smith shadows him with a digital stopwatch. Mr Smith ducks and weaves around the barriers, unloading two rounds into each target, at a ridiculously fast pace. He quickly reloads his magazine. The next shot sets the popper target swinging. He puts two neat holes through a target, and ducks across to lean out between two blue barrels and nail the popper at the top of its arc. BLAM! BLAM! Mr Smith stops the clock. Seven point zero three, he calls.

Kylie has come back from the animal silhouettes.
"They keep giving me guns," she says.
"Uh huh."
"I just wanted to try shooting one. Just once. But they keep giving me more and more guns."
"Yeah. I wish they would give me one. I want to shoot those little metal chickens."

I have been woken up by the chickens next door every day now for two months. Every morning, six o'clock. Just one clip. I just want to unload one clip into a little metal chicken silhouette.

A man comes up to Kylie with what looks like a six-shooter.
"This is a thirty-eight calibre revolver," he says. "Would you like to fire it."
"Oh, all right," Kylie says, and stomps off with him.

It's hard doing this story for the paper. People will talk to me all right, about the pistol club, the sport, and what a great family sport it really is - but then they won't give me their names.
"Oh, i don't want people to know i've got guns," they say.
And the ones who have given me their names all seem to be called Mr Smith.

I am just waiting now to meet a Mr Wesson.

Mr Smith comes up to me with his chrome Infinity.
"This is based on the 1911 pistol, invented by Mr Browning," he says.
"In 1911?"
"That's right," he says, surprised. He seems quite impressed. "You know about Mr Browning?"
"Oh, i don't like to boast, but yes, i know a little...
'Oh, to be in England
Now that April's there,
And whoever wakes in England
Sees, some morning, unaware -'"
"Sorry, what?"
"Robert Browning. The poet?"
He glares at me. "Do you want to fire this weapon or not?"
"Yes, please."
"All right then. As i said, it's based on the 1911 single-action automatic, invented by John Moses Browning." He scowls at me. "The most famous and competent gunmaker the world has ever known."
"Great. Can i have a go? On the animal silhouettes?"
"Now, John Browning was unquestionably a genius. He also invented the 30/30 Winchester repeating rifle. He developed his designs as all inventors do, through trial and error and an ongoing effort to improve on initial weaknesses."
"The animal silhouettes are just over there."
"Browning designed this pistol for use by the US military, and in this he succeeded admirably. Although 90 years have elapsed since the pistol was adopted for service, it is still in use by US military units, and very much in demand in the civilian sector."
"I have my earmuffs right here."
"Less generally known is that Browning designed many parts of the 1911 pistol to be used as tools in its own disassembly and reassembly. Even the .45 cartridge itself can be used to work on the gun."
"Has it got much of a kick? Let me try it."
"This custom Infinity has been adapted to fire thirty-eight calibre projectiles from a forty-five calibre shell. This gives the projectile more speed and accuracy, and also allows the gun's use on the Practical Pistol range under Federal legislation. Here, would you like to fire it?"

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