Just Keep Pulling: On Shooting Firearms and Empaths
I did not grow up around guns. In fact Power Rangers and Teenage Mutant Ninja turtles were outlawed in our home. Perhaps that plays into the fact that i’m sensitive. Most the time, extremely sensitive.
The first time shooting firearms it scared me. No, it terrified me and shook me at my core. It wasn’t a little BB gun or a 22, it was a 40 caliber hand gun.
We were out in no mans land back in Chelan Washington. Up in the evergreen covered hills with a giant dirt mound as our backstop. Not a soul around for days. I was both equally excited and nervous as this was my first time shooting a handgun. I’d seen photos of friends at shooting ranges smiling next to their paper cutout sprayed with holes they’d just shot. It looked like they had a blast. I was with my husband who I trust completely and who has been firing guns since he was probably younger then our kids are now.
Ranger sat there carefully explaining the gun to me. He explained the parts of the gun, how it worked, how to hold it, how to stand, i’m pretty sure he covered it all. He was very thorough and precise with his instructions.
I only had 2 questions when he finally was done with his firearms lecture.
“How loud is it going to be?”
“Is it going to kick back at me?”
He answered with, “uh, It’ll be a loud pop, and it will only kick back a little”. I confirmed his answers as I wanted to know exactly what to expect. Looking back I shouldn’t have accepted such vague answers.
I took my stance. Legs apart, knees bent, elbows locked. I took a moment to feel my breath as I took aim at the piece of plastic that was about to meet its end. I held steady feeling my breath between my lips. 1….2….keep pulling….keep pulling….3….the gun fired.
Everything went silent. The world around me seemed to start a slow spin. I looked over at Ranger who had a huge smile on his face…until he saw mine. The world was muffled and ringing and for a moment I was completely lost. My heart was beating so hard I could feel each beat pounding in my ears. I stood there for a split second not knowing a thing. Not a voice, not a thought. The sound of the gun going off was enough to paralyze my hearing (and me) for those few moments. The power of the bullet flying out of the barrel was enough to make my palms sweat and go completely numb.
Ranger came rushing towards me and grabbed the gun out of my hands, I’m not even sure how I was still holding onto it. I wanted to drop it and bury it in the dirt right then and there. But my brain had not caught up to tell my hand to drop the gun just yet.
“No.” Is all I could get out of my mouth and I walked away quickly. Tears welled up in my eyes. I had no way to stop them, they just came. I was shaken to my core and needed time to breath. Breath….somehow my body remembered to breath, I think.
Truth is i had no idea I’d have that reaction. That wasn’t something you could predict. I can’t explain why it happened or why I reacted the way I did. I’m not the tough girl. I’m strong, but i’m not tough. There are things i’m incredibly sensitive to and sometimes those things surprise me.
With three boys in the house, one being in Law enforcement, I believe its incredibly important to know how to use a gun and to know the proper way to handle a gun. I did learn that. I also learned that shooting a gun is not something I enjoy. At all. Ranger took me out just the other week to go shooting again. I was prepared this time. I knew what to expect.
I gathered myself, I grounded myself, and breathed. I kept breathing and kept squeezing that trigger. I’d stop before it fired and breathed again. I relaxed my stance and said I couldn’t do it. I held my ground, aimed, and pulled the trigger some more. Yet each time i’d stop shy of it firing.
Keep pulling. Keep pulling. I had a great battle within myself that day. My brain was begging me, hounding me, to do something and I tried so hard to do it. But something within me stopped me every time. That day my brain was doing everything it could to keep me pulling that trigger tighter and tighter and something else inside was fighting right back just as fiercely.
It’s funny how that can be translated into life. There are things you know you should do. But no matter how hard you try to do them there is a force battling against you. Think of how hard it is sometimes to apologize, to say I love you, to say that the other person is right. It’s a downright battle at times!
I finally braced myself a little harder. Let out another breath slowly and kept pulling until it shot. It fired once and I just stood there breathing again. Tears welled up in my eyes, but not from terror this time. Well, maybe a little from terror. I’d done it, I had made myself do it. I had met resistance and I pushed through and I survived. It was scary. My hands were tingling and I handed the gun off as soon as I could. But i had done it.
I know this is a small feat for most. Crying and being emotional over shooting a gun may seem ridiculous. Trust me, Ranger completely agrees with that! I can’t predict when floods of emotion will find their way into my daily life and spill over. For some reason when that gun fired it shook me. It rattled something loose and it took over a year to even think about shooting firearms again.
Just know that in life this happens and it’s ok. Especially for those of us who are extra tender. Those of us who feel with everything that they are. The empaths out there. It’s ok to feel, it’s ok to be scared. Just keep standing there grounded, breathing. Just keep pulling that trigger. Eventually things will fire and the dust will settle and you’ll see that you are still standing. Your feet may even be planted further in the ground then before.
Just keep pulling.