I guess I shot myself…right?

Last week, my wife’s sister, her husband, and their two kids came to town to celebrate Christmas with us. We had a terrific time laughing and enjoying each other. My brother-in-law recently got a new handgun and wanted he and I to go the local shooting range. I had been there only once before and loved it, so I was totally into going again.

Upon arrival, I rented a Beretta 9mm–a beautifully crafted handgun that was such a fun gun to shoot. I enjoyed tearing up the paper target with this fine weapon. As I squeezed round after round (with a big smile on the inside), I was unaware that one of the range’s instructors was passing behind me. He stopped because he noticed I had just made an error in the way I was holding the gun. For the majority of the time, I had correctly held both thumbs along the left side of the gun (like the example picture to the left), but for some reason on my last shot had crossed my left thumb over my right. Big mistake. I welcomed the correction as he explained to me that because of the way the gun fires, having my left thumb across my right and therefore behind the hammer of the gun, could result in a sheering off of a chunk of my thumb. Good tip. I thanked him for the instruction and he kept going. Careful not to “cross the thumbs”, I finished off the rest of my box of ammo.

As you might guess, the story doesn’t end there.

Included in the $10 rental fee at the shooting range, I was allowed to swap out weapons and try a second gun. My brother-in-law Chris suggested a Glock 26 9mm. It was a bit more of a compact, boxier design. Honestly, it was like gripping a brick. I immediately didn’t feel comfortable with the way it felt in my hands, but having just purchased a box of ammo for this chunky firearm, I loaded it up and raised it at the target.

I’ll have to plead temporary insanity. Or maybe it was in my fervor to get used to this new feel of the Glock; I don’t know what it was. All I know is that after squeezing off that first round, I noticed a distinct pain in my left thumb. You guessed it: I crossed my thumbs. I immediately recalled just moments before how the instructor had told me not to do what I had just done.

The good news was, my thumb wasn’t that high behind the mechanism which slides backwards when the bullet goes forward (but for practical purposes, it travels at much the same speed). So, while technically speaking I didn’t shoot myself with a bullet, I did shoot myself with part of the gun traveling at the speed of the bullet. So, I shot myself WITH a gun, right? It’s a debate for the ages, I suppose.

I finished the rest of the rounds in the clip (9 more bullets) and headed out to the men’s room to wash my wound and shake my head at myself in the mirror. I wrapped my thumb in a paper towel and made my way back to the counter where that same instructor was standing. I showed him my bleeding thumb, and said, “You give good advice.”

I actually took a picture of my injured thumb, but for now I’ve decided not to post it. I’ll just say it’s healing nicely.

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