Date Night at the Gun Range

With senseless violence a constant concern, some women are getting seriously armed to protect themselves. Others, like our EIC Rosella Eleanor LaFevre are going with their boyfriends to the gun range in search of a good time.

For as long as I can remember, I had a secret desire to learn to shoot a gun. This desire was born of years watching cop shows like Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Bones and Castle. Smart independent women should learn how to fire a gun, I thought.

I come from a family that discourages gun use. My mother always shook her head when my cousin Danny used a BB gun when our family gathered for the holidays. When Danny went hunting and shot his first deer, Mom was seriously alarmed. My father had no real interest in guns and ammo either. If he’s ever been hunting, I have never heard the stories. I knew quite early that if I ever learned to fire a gun, a boyfriend would have to be the one to teach me.

Then, this fall, I finally learned that my boyfriend, Christopher Doctor, learned to shoot when he was a kid. I had no idea that Chris, 25, was the experienced son of a big gun collector until his cousin applied for a permit to carry. Now I had my in. He knew how to shoot – and once even shot a bear with a .22, which only pissed off the bear – and he was my boyfriend. I could see it: we’d go to the range and after shooting all afternoon, we’d be so turned on we couldn’t wait to get home.

As it turns out, I’m not the only one who has held onto a desire to learn to fire a gun. Paxton Quigley, author of Armed & Female: Taking Control, has single-handedly taught 7,000 women to shoot a firearm. And The Atlantic just ran an article called, “Girls with Guns: How Arming More Women Could Change America.” Guns — and girls shooting them — is a hot topic again, probably because of the Colorado theater shooting, in which 6 lost their lives.

Some women don’t feel comfortable learning to shoot alone, though, and are going to the range with their boyfriends with hopes of having a fun, sexy time.

Certainly shooting ranges and singles groups have caught on to this and are organizing events to capitalize on this desire and turn shooting into a semi-erotic activity. Shooting ranges are catering to lovers and mingling singles alike with special events. The West Side Pistol Range, located at 20 West 20th St in New York City, is hosting “Singles Day At The Firing Range,” for which singles pay an entrance fee of $79.99. In addition, groups like Reston, VA-based Single in the Suburbs arrange such events at their local gun ranges. Via Twitter, the organizer of the SITS group, Rita Colbert, said her group members look forward to going to the gun range “for a hot date,” and she said she “went on one myself.”

Then there are couples, like Chris and me, who go to the range together and teach one another.

Kandace Kohr, 20, grew up shooting guns and spent time hunting with her father. One day, Kohr said and her boyfriend, who have been together eight months, went to a shooting range after the father of one of Kohr’s friends told them they should go as a group of couples. Her friend’s father was a registered gun owner and offered to take the couple for the first time at the range.

“Going in, I wasn’t thinking that it would be a good bonding experience for the two of us,” Kohr said. “At first, I just thought it would be something fun to do.” But since Kohr and her boyfriend have returned to the range quite often, it seems the experience was greater than she expected. “I found that we were both showing each other our own methods of gun handling and shooting technique. It was interesting, and so much fun!” she said.

Kohr thinks others should go to the range with their boyfriends because of the way it opens your eyes to the other person. “I have always loved to shoot guns, but to do it with Ryan was an experience that I would lend my encouragement to anyone,” Kohr said. And sharing such a passion with your loved one is rewarding. “I notice, now, that when we go shooting together, we’re just so close, and we share that common interest in shooting,” Kohr said.

The feeling of danger you get in the range is a unique experience you don’t have when you go to the movies. “With Ryan, I just feel like it’s the ultimate bonding experience. It’s enticing. It’s incredible. There’s no other way to explain it,” Kohr said.

Plenty of others have been drawn to the idea of shooting because of the potential for danger to act as an aphrodisiac. “The danger did entice me a little,” Allison Hardin, 23, said. For Hardin, who went with her boyfriend Nic this fall, at least, the experience failed to meet her expectations. “For myself, it wasn’t quite the aphrodisiac I was hoping for. The first shot I took terrified me. The power in the recoil was one I have never experienced,” Hardin said. It took watching a few more rounds for her to feel comfortable enough to shoot again.

What was rewarding for Hardin was her boyfriend’s reaction to the experience. He had only been shooting once before and taught her how to do it. “The greatest satisfaction I got as hearing how proud Nic was of me for overcoming a fear,” Hardin said.

Julie Moo, 21, and her boyfriend James, 22, went in April 2011 with two single male friends. The four were eating lunch together when they decided they should do something. “We were pretty bored and not sure what to do so Josh suggested that we go to the gun range and we all agreed to go since we never had the experience before,” Moo said.

Going into it, she was terribly afraid, she said. “I was expecting it would be a scary place and that my biggest fear was I would hold the gun the wrong way I wouldn’t hold it hard enough. I kept thinking, I hope it doesn’t recoil back and hit me in the head,” Moo said. Whether she had psyched herself out or not, the experience was not a lot of fun for Moo. “I think it was more of a sexy date between James and Matt and Josh and the guns, than between me and James,” Moo said.

As for me, our date at the gun range wasn’t quite the turn-on for my boyfriend that it was for me. Leaving the range, I exclaimed how great it was and Chris just shrugged. I wanted to go again and he said it would be a long time because the cost came to roughly $45 per person. Although it was an expensive date and not quite the heated, sexy experience I imagined, it was a great experience. Seems like I’m not the only one who thinks so.

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