Wednesday, May 27, 2009

fire of love

a friend of mine has a "bucket list" -- a la the jack nicholson/morgan freeman terminal-illness dramedy the bucket list -- although she, unlike the characters in the flick, is not dying. one of the things on her list was firing a gun, and monday was the day for her to tick that item off -- and i got to join the shooting party, as part of my birthday present from JD.

on monday night, i picked up JD at her k-town pad and pointed the beast east on 6th street, all the way to the los angeles gun club. it's a boxy building inside a small warehouse compound, with a small parking lot right in front. inside it's very bright and spare, with display cases full of weaponry marking out an l-shaped space from which employees hand out rental guns and sell boxes of ammo. on the walls above are a wide variety of targets -- everything from your standard silhouettes and circle targets to bottles and cans on a fence to photos of menacing guys in hoodies and other thuggish types -- posted on the walls so you can choose. the south wall is windows looking into the range, with entry doors on either side.

the name of the place brought to mind legendary l.a. band the gun club, fronted by the late jeffrey lee pierce. a group beloved by many but not well known to me. thus i was forced to learn, and discovered on wikipedia (confirmed by 00soul) that keith morris of the circle jerks named the band, but not after this particular gun club. still, it is a synchronicitous musical link, with the bonus that "fire of love," a 1982 single by TGC (and also the title of the band's debut album), was originally done by jody reynolds in 1958, the year jeffrey lee pierce was born. (also, they both suffered from liver ailments.)

a lot of different l.a. music scene figures and other famous folk passed through or worked with the gun club: this very detailed article gets into that. jeffrey lee died in 1996 at the way-too-young age of 37 -- not of a gunshot wound (that would be TOO horribly synchronicitous), but a brain hemorrhage. i remember when 00soul went to the memorial. he told me a story about him and JLP drunkenly singing doo-wop on the sidewalk outside the music machine one night years before ... one of those rock 'n' roll moments that takes on a life of its own, fleeting and yet eternal. like a shot through the heart (at least if you're an ashes to ashes fan).

one of our party actually did fret that she would accidentally shoot someone, but of course there were no casualties. JD and i paired up in lane 3, after getting the rundown from alonzo, a cheerful man in a gun club jacket. you must carry your unloaded gun, clip, bullets, etc. into the range in a plastic carrier box, and wear your protective headphones and eyeshields. unless you rent a rifle, which JD did -- as it doesn't fit in the carrier, you just hold the unloaded gun straight up and transport it that way.

to her disappointment, they did not have an M-16. "too much," said alonzo. (she was in the army for seven years and is a very good shot, BTW.)

we started with a military 9mm, a very nice gun that didn't kick much but seemed a little too big and heavy for my hands.

i did hit the target -- many times even in vital areas (head, heart). but my aim drifted left in a wicked way. which helped later on, when we got a glock and JD came back with a target, "tactical situation no. 3," depicting a gunman with a woman hostage, him standing to her left. i totally blew that mofo away and DID NOT hit the hostage! i was chuffed.

the glock was a lot lighter but had much more kick, although that didn't bother me. (there i am with it at the top of this post.) but most awkward for me was the rifle, a winchester copy i am told, which i only fired maybe 10 times. while i did hit the target (bottles and cans, clap your hands), it was hard to master the gun. i've never fired a long gun while standing, so it was challenging to hold it against my shoulder, sight it, fire, etc.

it was fun to try, though. we all seemed to really get into the experience. one guy rented an ancient, WWI russian rifle with a bolt action that was, like, so loud. we're standing there, innocently blasting away with our pistols, when allasudden there's this BOOOOOOOM! right next to us. WTF? even with plugs in and headphones on (i needed earplugs too because the noise in general is very bad for already abused ears like mine), it was sonic.

at last we returned our gear to alonzo, cashed out, and said thanks. "we'll be back," we vowed, like ahhnold. and trundled off to seven grand, a downtown whiskey bar where JD ordered a sour with bulleit bourbon, just to keep the theme alive.

shooting definitely got my adrenaline going, and burned off a lot of nervous, anxious energy. it has a certain allure as stress relief. but i need to try more guns to find which is best. i want to shoot a revolver. and i gotta work on my breathing, and my aim. (tough b/c i cannot see the sights without my reading glasses ... kids, don't let anyone tell you differently: aging sucks.) and i probably should have taken off my rings, but ... oh well. next time.

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