The first thing that pops to mind when you come across the words “strong hand” is an image of a powerful sword-wielding blonde-bearded barbarian with lightning at the background. Mmm.. No? Okay, excuse my imagination as it wandered off a mile too far. After giving it some more thought and mustering some of my dormant brain cells, a strong hand can actually mean one’s dominant hand, as is the case with indoor gun shooting. It actually makes perfect sense—you need to have a strong and firm grip to fire a gun with conviction and handle its powerful recoil.
I was giving myself a mental pep talk as I entered the firing range: This is totally safe. People have been in and out of this facility. This is nothing more than a recreational activity. Oh wow, they serve cupcakes! No matter how safe the environment seems to be, I still felt nervous; and the anxiety is warranted as I am (barely—out of fear) gripping a lethal weapon! It was a bit abated, though, when I was greeted by one of the three friendly range officers licensed by the National Range Officer Institute, who will also be the ones to guide beginners. The officers will walk you through step by step, but they waste none of your time, as you jump right in and fire after they give their instructions. Indeed, experience is a perfect teacher. The range officers will comment on your posture, your grip, your stance, and even the way you think. Funny, the officer said to me that I was anticipating the recoil, hence, jerking the gun downward just before I pull the trigger. It’s like they can read my mind! Truly, safety is paramount in this facility and here are four general rules they live by:
1) All guns are always loaded – If you are going to assume, assume that the gun is loaded. I am going to repeat it for the nth time, the gun is lethal and should be treated with respect.
2) Never point muzzle at anything you do not want to destroy – This instruction is a bit fuzzy, what if I really hate my ex-girlfriend? Should I point the gun at her? LOL kidding! Seriously though, in the context of an indoor shooting range, the only thing you want to destroy is that piece of carton that vaguely resembles a human torso. The gun should always be pointed at your target, nothing else. And no, do not even think of pointing the gun at your cellphone. It’s hella instagram-worthy, but downright dangerous.
3) Keep finger off the trigger until ready to shoot – Gun firing is a game of conviction. You only rest your finger on the trigger when you are 100% sure you are going to fire the gun. One tip though, be as gentle as possible when pulling the trigger. This will minimize jerking, and make sure that the gun remains pointed at your target.
4) Know your target, and what lies behind and around it – Awareness of self—your intentions, your rhythm, your focus—plays a big part in indoor shooting. More subtle though is the need for awareness of your environment—your target, the surroundings, other shooters, etc. Just to be safe, I always ask the firing officer if it is okay to start shooting. Of course, I do not want to accidentally hit something, or worse, someone!
After 50 rounds, I have had it. I went back to lobby and got to know more about Stronghand Shooting Range, and grew admiration on how high they hold the safety of their customers. First and foremost, they use HS guns from Croatia, which are designed to be more safe and user-friendly. They use non-toxic bullets (still, please do not swallow) with Vihtavouri smokeless powder, non-toxic primer, and copper-coated heads. In simple terms, what they are saying is the area is free from harmful airborne lead. Inside their 18-bay firing range, they invested on a four-turbine two-way air exchanges. In layman’s lingo, the inside air is exhausted and replaced with clean filtered air from the outside. If that does not impress you, they stepped their safety game up a notch with the installation of hepa filters! Truly, Stronghand has put much effort in making their facility more accommodating and less intimidating.
I, thankfully, came out of the range unscathed and alive! You have to own up to the moment and fire with conviction, no matter how shaky and nervous your beginner hands are. I learned that you cannot talk yourself into it, though. You really have to fire that first shot. There lies the beauty of it—the irony of things; Isn’t it beautiful knowing that a strong hand is forged by the gentle flicks of a finger, firing up something so lethal, so loud, and so powerful?