Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Oh, The Places You'll Go!

by Martha Reed

Every summer I try to take at least one field trip to some locale I’ve never been before and I go there for no particularly good reason – taking the trip is enough by itself. I love driving into an unfamiliar part of the country just to see what’s out there. Generally, I find that I like the people just as much or even more so than most folks in town and I have to admit the countryside is very pretty this time of year with all the wildflowers, especially the cornflowers mixed in with Queen Anne’s lace nodding gently in the breeze.

Last year I took the kids to Meadowcroft, a 16,000-year-old rock shelter and we had a blast. I highly recommend a visit for anyone looking for a kid-friendly day trip. This year, however, I ventured on my own to attend a Weapons 101 class with some fellow ‘siblings’ from the Pittsburgh chapter of Sisters in Crime (SinC). Class was held at the McDonald Sportsman’s Club in Midway, PA.

I will admit that I was uncomfortable when I first walked into the facility because there were a lot of guns around but I wanted to take the class for a very good reason: research. I knew my protagonist, Police Lieutenant John Jarad, would have to be proficient with weaponry and that meant I got to learn all about guns. And “guns” was about the extent of my knowledge. Everything I learned I got from TV which is about as far from truth and reality as you can get. I was woefully ignorant about the difference between a revolver and a pistol and thought that perhaps a semi-automatic was maybe some kind of cafeteria?

After six hours of extremely safety-conscious coaching later, I now feel reasonably knowledgeable on the subject of guns and most of all, I loved hanging out in the countryside on a beautiful day with some very interesting and writerly friends. I love it when a research project morphs into a great new summer memory. It got me out of my rut and I recommend that you try doing something unexpected and off the chart for yourself!

As usual, Dr. Seuss said it best:

Oh! The Places You’ll Go!
By Dr. Seuss
Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.

Out there things can happen and frequently do
to people as brainy and footsy as you.

And when things start to happen, don’t worry. Don’t stew.
Just go right along. You’ll start happening too.


Wilfred Bereswill said...

I agree Martha. About 3 years ago when I started writing, I went to a local range on my own. As fate would have it they were having a slow day and I chatted with the owner for almost 2 hours. He was a retired FBI agent which is exactly what I needed. We talked about the standard issues for many of the different agencies and what weapons were popular with the bad guys. We also chatted about different ammo.

He wound up giving me a membership and I use it now and then. I have fired a lot of different guns and different calibers. I've been able to fire fully automatic guns like an Uzi and MP5. The most exciting have been the .50 caliber and 44 Magnum Smith & Wessons.

Martha Reed said...

Hi, Wilfred. .50 caliber is more than I can handle although one of our members tested a sniper rifle. It kicked like a mule. I was standing on the sidelines to take her picture and the percussive shock wave pushed me back bodily, and that takes some doing!

All in all, I enjoyed the day. I wasn't expecting that but I'm much more knowledgeable because of the class, and that has to be a good thing. Thanks for posting!

Wilfred Bereswill said...

The rest of our Sister (& Misters) Chapter was in the classroom of the indoor range when I fired the .50. They all came out of the class immediately to see who fired a cannon.

The Uzi I shot was during the Sisters In Crime National Conference in St. Louis a few years back (Forensics University). Since I ran the event, the range extended a bit of a gratuity by letting my shoot different firearms during the breaks.

Martha Reed said...

The .50 we saw looked a cannon, too, and it sure sounded like one. The cartridge was as long as my hand and the range was a flat mile. I couldn't even see the target without using the scope!

Annette said...

Since Gina and Martha have both posted about the Firearms 101, I guess I'll have to post the photos here tomorrow.

Gina said...

Yes, Annette!