Yesterday, a birthday wish was finally granted. Jake wanted to spend the day with me and wanted to go to a firing range. Given that his eventual goal is to become a police officer somewhere, this was a very sensible request. I just wanted to spend some quality time with my son. After weeks of planning and schedule adjustments, we were able to schedule it for yesterday.

We headed north to Manchester Firing Line in Manchester, New Hampshire. I jokingly refer to New Hampshire as “Lawless New Hampshire” based on a former boss’ description of their laws, but know that they are serious about the few laws they do have. After all, any state that dares to use “Live Free or Die” as their state motto surely doesn’t have as many gun laws as other states. This location allows for a single person to rent and shoot a wide variety of guns with a short training course, but doesn’t require it if a second person is with them. After talking with a very knowledgeable sales person (retired police officer) about Jake’s eventual goals, he set us up with a standard issue weapon used by CIA, FBI and many police officers around the country. We rented a Sig Sauer 9MM handgun, then headed into the back through multiple doors used to keep the air clean in the store and the noise contained to the range.

We shot a total of 150 rounds of ammunition, with each clip 13 rounds shot at a different range. While we started at 25 feet, he shot at the target from as far away as 50 feet. The target was pretty much demolished at the end, knowing that almost every round hit somewhere on that piece of paper. We ended up in the member’s area because of availability, so got to see some of the serious weapons that others brought in their own cases. From small handguns to large rifles, we were somewhat shocked that these huge guns were being shot indoors.

Within the same set of 14 stalls, we watched a semi-automatic AK style gun blast the hell out a target by two guys. Another rifle was used with a scope for very accurate shooting at the maximum distance of 60 feet. Yet another small caliber handgun was shot with deadly accuracy at short range, nailing the target that had the outline of a person first in the heart over and over, then in the head for the final rounds. I had to think that this well dressed man was one that should never have problems defending himself. I played it out in my mind that he provided personal protection for a dignitary, or was in a witness protection program and needed personal protection.

On the drive home, we talked about the experience, what Jake’s aspirations are, and how the mechanics of a single action vs. dual action weapon work. After all, we’re guys and we’re geeks to understand the mechanics of whatever we’re working on.

The bottom line is that we spent the day together – a quality, father-son day that we rarely get to do. I will remember this forever and only hope that Jake will as well!

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