Facing Fears: My Experience at a Shooting Range

By Sabrina Martinez

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I was hoping to take control of my fear in light of the tragedies plaguing our nation, most recently the Las Vegas massacre. The topic of guns and gun control has flooded the media and divided the country and I found myself afraid. I became afraid of guns and heavy populated areas, so much so, the idea that anything could happen at any moment was all I could think about.


Stephan Paddock, 64, opened fire on a crowd of concert-goers attending the Route 91 Harvest festival. He fired at the crowd from his hotel room at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino on Oct. 1, 2017, taking 59 lives and injuring 500 others making it the, “deadliest mass shooting in modern American history,” according to the Washington Post.


My heart sank hearing the gunshots that rained down on the crowd through the videos circulating social media. I was horrified thinking how afraid those people must have been. I had never heard any form of gunfire before, and I wondered how I would react if I ever were exposed to it. I didn’t want to be afraid of the sound of guns, and I wanted to be somewhat knowledgeable about them.


So when my friend invited me to go to a shooting range, I went in order to conquer my anxiety. If I’m ever in a perilous situation, I don’t want to find myself frozen and unable to react because of my fear. Further, if I’m ever in a position where I need to use a gun, I want to feel comfortable knowing I have used one before. In other words, I wanted to take control of my fear.


I was shaking when we got to the range. My hands ran hot, and my anxiety had increased ten-fold. The instructor ran through all the rules and regulations, I almost couldn’t concentrate long enough to hear a thing. He had us sign some papers, he handed us ear and eye protection, and he gave us an empty Vp9 with bullets. Next thing I knew, we were off.


Loading the gun was the hardest part. I was so nervous I grew weak and couldn’t push the golden bullets downward. Once I managed to load the gun with four shots, I was ready to fire my first. I held the gun straight out, pointing towards the white paper with my feet apart and my knees relaxed. I took a deep breath and placed my hand on the trigger.


I was speechless when I fired my first shot. The sound was overwhelming, but I felt more empowered and stronger than before. As I kept firing, my tension eased up and I relaxed.


Going to a shooting range made me feel in control again. It made me feel empowered and strong. It diminished the fear I was carrying with me.