Life & Career Lessons I Learned From the First Time I Shot A Gun


I wore a hot pink underarmor tank top and purple lululemon running skirt. I was so excited to go shooting for the first time. (If you ever see me in pink and purple it means I am VERY excited). As I grabbed a water bottle from the fridge I got a text from my brother: “If you have a baseball cap of some kind I recommend wearing it. The bill will make sure hot brass won’t hit you in the face.” This was one of the lessons I learned as a Girl Scout: be prepared.

Me: “wtf is hot brass”

George: “The gun ejects the spent shell casing and because it’s a controlled explosion in the gun, the shell casing that is ejected is hot. It’s nothing to worry about, but if it hits you it’s uncomfortable and can throw off your focus.”

Okay, now I started to feel nervous. As I signed a waiver and heard the shots being fired from inside the shooting range, I felt intimidated and small. I glanced down at my fitbit surge and saw my BPM pumping to 84. My resting rate is usually in the 50s. I made a joke about my pulse. Then, with wide eyes, I listened to everything my brother told me, hanging on his every word and trying to shush the fears in my head. He told me I could close my non-dominant eye to help with accuracy and lean forward slightly to keep my shoulders out in front of my torso. I was reassured that the gun was not loaded the first time I picked it up. I practiced my grip, the slingshot move, and pulling the trigger without any ammo in the gun. After I realized I had been subconsciously holding my breath, I took several deep breaths. George loaded my Glock 9mm with one bullet.

I took one final breath, closed my left eye, and aimed at the target.

Wait a second, is that where I think it is?

I was surprised at my accuracy. George loaded 5 bullets into the magazine and I practiced loading the mag myself this time, pressing up with my palm.

I shot 5 more, all on target.

You know what? The best way to quiet your mind is to go shooting in a loud as hell range.

I then progressed to shooting 10 in a row. My confidence grew as I realized that I could be consistently accurate if I remembered to breathe. If I remembered to lower the gun to under my chest when my arms got sore (I lifted back earlier that day, arms were def sore). I got my stance aligned properly before I took my shots. It was exhilarating.

We stapled a fresh target and I noticed it was a bit crooked.

“That’s alright, he’s got that gangsta lean,” George joked.

Snapping out of my seriousness, I giggled. This was supposed to be fun. And it was.

So the target does not care about your ootd. Or if you were out having fun until 2am last night. Or if you ever shot a gun before. Or if the people next to you are rapidly firing at their battleship target right as you are about to pull the trigger. No, none of these things matter to your target.

The only thing that matters right now is the way in which you are controlling your mind and body to achieve your goal.

  1. Breathe. You can calm down your entire body with your breath. Breathing exercises relieve tension and stress, so you can focus on your objective.
  1. It is okay to be afraid. (Especially when you are holding a loaded gun.) As I mentioned in a previous post, negative emotions are important alert signals for us to respond appropriately. My fear helped me to focus and listen to George’s instructions so I could do well.
  1. Lighten up. As a Virgo, I am industrious, methodical, and precise. These are strengths to be sure – yet it is refreshing when a brother or a friend makes us grounded earthy types laugh.
  1. Trying new things is good for your brain. Now only will learning a new trade boost your self-confidence, but also challenging your body and mind creates new cognitive pathways, improving memory and keeping you sharp, shooter.

What new skills have you tried recently? Share with us! @MsCareerGirl

George, thank you for teaching me how to fire. #killedit

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Kelly Christiansen

A top columnist at MsCareerGirl, marketing guru Kelly Christiansen has 10+ years of strategic leadership experience and is a Senior Marketing Strategist on the Health Care team at Kahler Slater, an architecture firm in Wisconsin. An avid reader, runner, and recipe experimenter, you can follow Kelly on twitter @kellymc247

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