Just for the record, wrapping your hands around a real gun is nothing like holding an old-school Nintendo “Duck Hunter” plastic shooting pistol. But there is no little two-dimensional cartoon dog heckling you either, which was nice for my self-esteem.

It was a dusty Thursday and tiny tornadoes were whirling around at the Star of Texas Shooting Range near Copperas Cove, almost like a western ghost town, except with a highway nearby.

Now, since I’ve spent the last couple of years in the Austin hippie bubble — listening to indie music, doing yoga, drinking weird beer, (and yes, I was a philosophy major, but I did not hang out in coffee shops in metaphysical tangles with people who do not shower) — I’d never shot a gun.

I also should mention that I accidentally scheduled an eye doctor’s appointment before I went to this interview, forgetting they dilate your eyes.

So there I was, with two former military men, eyes dilated and holding a semi-automatic rifle in the middle of a windy Central Texas shooting pit for an interview.

Nonetheless, Guy Beveridge and Stephen Bennett were incredibly patient and knowledgeable. Both obvious Second Amendment enthusiasts tactically explained what their company, National Personal Defense Academy, did while showing me how to load a pistol.

And this strangely loaded situation, where some sort of collateral damage seemed entirely likely, didn’t even register as a “danger zone” because these two men were so capable.

They were the kind of Second Amendment rights advocates I felt like people could rally around — no bare arms while bearing arms, responsible, tactically aware and teaching classes that were more focused on “how to avoid using your weapon” than “you have a gun, now let’s pretend like you are a spy.”

They stressed self-defense and walked me through several scenarios, pointing out the different hazards that might come up at a gas station once you ... pull out the big gun.

They pointed out the pros and cons of the entire decision-making process.

Then, wrapping me up in protective gear, they let me fire away on the target. I won’t lie, I jumped a little after the first round, but after that, I gave it my best shot.

Contact Courtney Griffin at cgriffin@kdhnews.com or 254-501-7559

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