He barely survived the meteor impact!
Shots Fired: A Reporter Visits Vermont’s First Indoor Gun Range
By Kevin McCallum, 4 August 2021
I’m not a gun guy. I haven’t handled a firearm since I squeezed off a few rounds from an old .22 rifle at summer camp more than 35 years ago.
You had balls back then.
Nor have I felt the impulse to own a gun for personal protection, whether due to privilege or delusion or both. I’ve also figured, rightly or wrongly, that owning a gun — statistically speaking — would tend to make my family’s home less safe, not more.
Yes. Please keep that attitude for just a few more years. If they kick me out of the grocery stores then I’ll have to ‘shop’ elsewhere. You’ll be in no danger unless you resist my victimhood.
So when Henry Parro opened the state’s first indoor shooting range in Waterbury in late June, I didn’t pay it much mind.
Then one novel feature caught my attention: firearms for rent. I’ve rented cars and skis and stand-up paddleboards — even a snowmobile once — but I’d never heard of a place where you could walk in, plunk down a credit card and minutes later be firing an assault rifle.
Dude, they rent space shuttles and the Presidency now.
That is, however, exactly what I found myself doing one morning last week.
If Parro’s grand business plans hit the mark, gun enthusiasts from around the region will soon be descending on Waterbury as well.
His new multimillion-dollar, 20,000- square-foot building resembles an elaborately refurbished dairy barn or tourist welcome center. Its cupolas, red wood siding and reclaimed barn timbers say traditional Vermont, while the sliding glass door at the entrance lends a modern feel.
“We’ve designed this to be a destination,” Parro said from a balcony high above the shop’s expansive retail floor. “We’re going to be drawing people from all over the Northeast. We already are.”
A wedding party from Brooklyn recently swung by on a lark to use the range…
Once upon a time, a little kid’s parents made him go to a wedding. He was sitting bored in the pew. “Mommy, why does the bride wear white?”
“Because it’s the happiest day of her life.”
“Oh… Mommy, why does the groom wear black?”
Know what I mean? Letting a bachelor party use your range is like accepting a novice skydiver on his 40th birthday. You hesitate and ask him what he still has to live for.
…while a group of law enforcement officers from across the Northeast attended a training session put on by a major gun manufacturer, Parro said.
Paid conventions aren’t just for Big Pharma!
Most of those I met, however, were locals, including Barbara Walton of Waterbury, who toured the store with her 16-year-old grandson as she looked to sign him up for shooting classes. “I want a small gun for myself, too,” she said.
Parro, a former member of the Vermont National Guard and ex-police officer in South Burlington and Waterbury, has run a gun shop catering to sporting enthusiasts and law enforcement officers on Route 2 in Waterbury for nearly 40 years.
He first learned about gun safety as a kid hunting with his father, back when the frigid first day of deer season was “like a state holiday,” he said. As interest in hunting has waned and more people have moved to Vermont from other states, Parro has found that his customers are looking not just to buy guns but also for a convenient place to learn to use them safely and effectively.
“I’d tell them that there were no indoor ranges in Vermont, and they just couldn’t believe it,” he said.
There are gun clubs and shooting ranges around the state, but all are outdoors and typically require memberships. It’s also legal in most rural towns to fire guns “from your back porch,” Parro said, which could explain the absence of indoor ranges until now.
I’m surprised myself at such a cold climate having no indoor ranges. Didn’t realize that most Vermonters can shoot from their back porch. In turn, I didn’t realize they had back porches, those space-wasting lucky dogs. Provincial of me, I guess, but it’s a good feeling. Not all of USA has been homogenized into Big Box ‘Murica.
The environmental contamination that can occur from pumping so much lead into the ground, not to mention the dangers of unregulated outdoor shooting, all help explain the shift toward indoor shooting ranges, he said.
*shrug* 200 years of dakka and the grass still grows. Just chew slowly when you eat an endangered species.
Parro said he hopes his airy, open retail space, hands-on displays and try-before-you-buy opportunities will break through the fear factor surrounding guns, much of which he said is manufactured by the media.
I understand why he wants to sell to liberals but honestly, at this point it’s arming the enemy. Those who hate the 2A should not be allowed to benefit from it. They deserve, no, justice demands that they be helpless before the raging mob.
To experience the offerings of this temple to the Second Amendment, I paid for a lane for an hour ($18). I rented a Ruger 9mm pistol and a high-powered, semiautomatic AR-15-style rifle made by a company called Heckler & Koch ($35 each). (Parro and his staff reject the term “assault rifle” as inflammatory and imprecise and, in all cases, prefer the term “firearm” to “weapon.”) I also picked up 100 rounds of ammo ($25 for 50 pistol rounds and $59 for 50 rifle rounds) and chose the standard six-bullseye target ($1.99) over the zombie or the gun-wielding bad guy daring me to shoot him in various highlighted organs.
Seriously, this journo should not have been allowed in the building. “I’m a journalist who wants to rent a high-powered, semiautomatic AR-15-style rifle because… umm… I might change my mind and like it.”
“Okay. We’ve got a restroom, excuse me, range on the other side of this door. Mind the counter for me, Tom, I gotta hand out another swirly.”
After I reviewed three pages of range rules, watched a 10-minute safety video, took a short quiz, and donned eye and ear protection, range safety officer Josh Noble led me through two sets of bulletproof doors.
YOUR fault, journo. Not ours. I wish the range itself had been twenty bucks and the useless regulations a thousand bucks… just for you.
Inside one of the 10 available lanes, I stapled my target to the carrier, then tapped a touch screen that could send the target sliding out up to 25 yards. I started with five yards.
Noble showed me how to load the 9mm bullets into the magazine, shove the magazine into the grip, slide back the surprisingly stiff bolt, release the safety and prepare to fire. I lined up the sights as best I could, gently squeezed the trigger and — BAM!
I missed. A tiny hole appeared wide of the target. Even from that short distance, I found it surprisingly challenging to keep the sights centered on the bullseye. Round after round, magazine after magazine, however, I slowly improved my accuracy.
Once, having lost count of how many bullets were in the magazine, I put the pistol down with a live round in the chamber. Noble quickly spotted my error and cleared the chamber; the unfired bullet dropped to the floor where it fell into a grated collection channel.
That’s exactly how many firearms accidents happen, Noble said: when even experienced shooters don’t make sure the chamber is empty when cleaning or re-holstering their pistols.
He was only being nice to you, Kevin. It’s actually quite rare for a “gunman” to shoot his leg off. Even Dindus rarely have accidental discharges when shoving their pieces into their underpants. (Why do they loot guns but never holsters?) Although, gangsters shooting their wangs off could explain how transsexuality became trendy.
While the pistol was manageable, even comfortable to hold and fire, the rifle was a different beast altogether. Everything about it — its weight, tactical scope and overall lethality — was downright intimidating.
HOW many years of college to get that impression?
The fact that the first magazine refused to click into place didn’t help either, further unnerving me. What if I just broke a $3,500 rifle? A fresh magazine worked just fine, though, and after loading it, I sent the target out to 15 yards.
When ready, I lined up the target in the cross hairs, pulled the stock onto my shoulder, squeezed the trigger and — BA-BOOM!!!!!
It is difficult to describe the impact — physical and personal — of that first shot. It felt like a meteor had struck the earth in front of me. A deep shock wave coursed through my body, the recoil rippling through my arms and right shoulder with astounding power. Being that close to an explosion of such magnitude — controlled and focused as it was — rattled me.
“Next time, keep the stock pressed against your shoulder instead of an inch away. Even experienced shooters make that mistake.”
I composed myself and continued to fire round after concussive round, the puffs of acrid gunpowder smoke carried downrange by a powerful ventilation system. My accuracy gradually improved until it became easier to hit the target with the rifle from 25 yards than with the pistol from five.
It was exhilarating, but I never got comfortable firing it. I’m not sure what scared me more — the power of that weapon or the fact that I could have taken one home that day.
It’s the latter that scares ME more: that you would have taken a rifle home, kept it loaded and unlocked next to your bed, never practicing again, then fired it in a panic or blind rage… and then all the media, meaning your friends, would use the incident as an excuse to disarm the people who know what they’re doing with firearms, why they’re important to American society…
…and who know what a REAL gun feels like. You 5.56mm pussy.