Go ahead. Make my day.

So I made a fool out of myself.  So what.

Ivan knows guns and how to calm a crazed, gun-toting gramma.


I go to The Firing Lane and I’m feeling good.  I like to learn new things and shooting a gun for the first time is definitely new.  I remember someone telling me how I’ll like the feeling of power from shooting a gun.

This ought to be interesting.

Ivan greets me at the door and a few moments later I’m in a chair at a table with a bottle of water, some printed notes, and three revolvers.

Ivan, it turns out, is an excellent teacher.

He very thoroughly goes over the four general rules of gun safety. We spend a lot of time on the why behind every rule.   He shows how to hold a gun, the correct stance, the parts of a gun, what happens when you shoot a gun (like the bullet, if it doesn’t hit bone, can go right through the bad guy and hit your wife, if you have one), recoil, ricochet, what to do in different scenarios, how to aim, etc.  Not in that order, but very well presented and at a pace I can easily follow. I handle the revolvers and ask questions.

So far, so good.

I can do this.  Ivan and I go through the door to the firing lane and we put on the electronic headphones.  He clips the target to the wire and turns the dial so it slides back about 10 feet.  I’m a little nervous, but I’m doing okay. I step up to the little shelf and take my position.  Ivan coaches me on my stance, my grip, my aim, my breathing, and so on.

I pull the trigger.

I don’t know if I can explain what happened next.  I still don’t understand it myself.  The gun goes off, there’s this big orange flash that I wasn’t expecting, and I completely fall apart!  Suddenly I can barely breathe and tears . . .  TEARS — for heaven’s sake — start rolling down my cheeks!  I lay the gun down and drop my head.

“Son of a b—-h!”

Now I don’t normally go around cursing.  However, I do believe there is a time and a place for it, and this is that time and place.

Ivan chuckles.  “It’s okay.  It’s okay.  Just breathe.  You did a great job.  It’s okay.  I had a lady in here yesterday who did the same thing.  It’s okay.  Step back and take a minute to collect yourself!”

I don’t believe the lady-in-here-yesterday part for a second, but it’s nice of him to say it.  I lamely try to save face by explaining I’ve never heard a gun shot up close before, that I had no idea of the magnitude of the violence — which is true — blah, blah, blah.

So much for “I am woman.  I am strong!”

You better look scared, Buster! I'm gonna fill you full of holes! Bam! Bam! Bam-bam-bam!


What a girl.  To my credit, even though I loathe the whole situation, I step up, pick up the gun, and we go through the process again.  Soon Ivan has me shooting twice in a row, then three times.

I try another gun.  I have some trouble with my grip due to my short fingers. . .  which are out of shape.  Yes, apparently I need to take my pointer finger to the gym because after a few shots, I can barely pull the trigger.

Ivan is remarkably optimistic about my performance.

After much discussion and inner turmoil (because, to be truthful, I never want to pick up a gun again), I buy the little Smith & Wesson .38 with a box of ammo for $427.99 including tax.  The two-hour lesson is an additional $80.  If you consider the one hour or so of psychotherapy after the firing lane and before the purchase, I received three hours of Ivan’s time.

I fill out the paperwork and Ivan phones in some information.  I take his photo for the blog.  He reminds me to go down to the courthouse to get my permit.  I jot down all the states that recognize a Georgia carry permit before I leave.  Unfortunately, New Mexico isn’t one of them!

I’ve got to turn this experience around in my head.  I need the gun.  I will get over this.  I will practice and . . .

I will learn to like it!

Now excuse me.   It’s time for my finger push-ups.


FYI:  The following states recognize Georgia’s gun permit:  AK, AL, AZ, CO, FL, ID, IN, KY, LA, MI, MO, MS, MT, NC, NH, OK, PA, SD, TN, TX, UT, VT, WY


About rvsueandcrew

Fulltime nomad
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34 Responses to Go ahead. Make my day.

  1. Merri says:

    Great Job! Keep working through it so it gets better. I can’t wait to get to the firing range myself but got other things on my plate at the moment. Remember to practice so things you learned stay fresh. You can do it!! Cheers! ~M

  2. bythervr says:

    Congrats Sue! So… just what do you do when you arrive in a state that doesn’t recognize your Georgia carry permit?

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      I’ll have to get a permit from that state. Which may mean another gun course in that state. I probably should have waited until I got to NM before starting all this gun business. But then I would be more likely to procrastinate once I’m living in my trailer and occupied with other things . . . things I have to learn.

  3. Kim says:

    Ivan looks so benign!

    Sounds like an intense experience. I think you did good just crying as opposed to, like, soiling yourself.

    I think you are wise and brave to prepare yourself. Go you deadly girl, you!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Yeah, Ivan is a mild-mannered guy with lots of guns. “Intense” — I like that explanation. It was very strange. I guess being a cry-baby isn’t so bad.

      Thanks for the affirmation, Kim.

  4. kayjulia says:

    I have seen it all before; when women start to learn to shoot they have some hurdles to get over some physical some mental. When they do get over those hurdles they are excellent shots. It is the training that makes the difference. Get a tennis ball and start squeezing the the thing as many times a day as you can, when it hurts you know your doing enough! Then go to the range and shoot get used to the noise the flash the atmosphere and the routine; repetition makes the unfamiliar familiar.

    But my question is why do you need a gun? Expecting trouble ? From whom? Would you really shoot someone?
    Who told you it was dangerous out here? It isn’t.

    Using situational awareness will keep you out of trouble most of the time. I keep a can of pepper spray handy just in case and never open the door to someone unless I know it is safe.

    I have many thousands of miles under my wheels and very rarely do I feel unsafe.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      First off, thanks for the encouragement, as far as getting capable with a gun.

      The people I used to work with can tell you I resisted the idea of gun ownership for a very long time.

      However, many people insisted I should have one and know how to use it. Mainly because I hope to have solar power and camp by myself in somewhat remote areas. Snakes . . .coyotes . . .and, yes, bad people.

      I think the experience was so upsetting because it goes against my nature. I’m still very ambivalent about owning a gun. I do know that I would use one if my life were threatened or if one of the crew’s life was threatened.

  5. Jack says:

    A can of wasp spray is very effective and it sprays up to 10′. Nothing up close and personal! It can simply sit on kitchen counter by the door for immediate use. No one thinks anything about it but it is a very effective self defense weapon… Rubbertramp

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      I do have a can of that spray as my shed is The House of Wasps. It does spray far. Didn’t think of it for any other self-defense. Thanks.

  6. Jack says:

    I forgot, Ive seen some women put a pair of mens used boots outside by the door at night. You get the pic right! I put a beware of dog sign in my window by the front door. I dont have a dog but it will give pause to someone approaching your Rv.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      The canine crew will do a great job of alerting me to any prowlers, human or otherwise. Probably too good, if you know what I mean.

      I wish I could get Bridget to bring her pitch down from scream-level . . . As it is, she could disable someone with laughter. And when the bad guy is doubled over, holding his gut, I’ll bop him on the head with a man’s boot!

  7. Practice, practice, practice. You’ll become more and more comfortable with your weapon of choice. Bravo for being responsible for your own personal safety!!

  8. Reine says:

    Key point. If you’re camping somewhere and you feel UNSAFE for any reason, LEAVE. Don’t count on the gun to provide safety. It’s the last resort – mainly against smaller critters. It won’t protect you against a bear. That’s what the wasp spray is for. And read the very long thread on security on the solo forum on http://www.casitaclub.com. Some good suggestions from folks who camp and/or full time solo. But if you’re gonna have one, definitely learn to use it and get really familiar with it’s operation so you can use it safely.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Excellent point, Reine. I agree with you wholeheartedly. Leaving is the best line of defense. I believe in the power of women’s intuition. It has served me very well in the past. I do wonder where the heck it went before I married . . .

      Sometimes leaving isn’t an option. I doubt I’ll ever have reason to even consider picking up a gun against a person. Wildlife . . . I used to think the gun would be good for scaring off possible attacks, but my signal horn would do that! (As long as it’s not an imminent attack . . . Then I’d prefer the gun!)

      When all is said and done, the gun experience may be something I need to accomplish, more than for defense. If nothing else, shooting one has given me an acute awareness of the violence of a firearm. I have a better understanding of why soldiers go nuts on the battlefield or later on.

  9. William B. Kelleher says:

    Please forgive me Sue, but you are getting real good at writing and had me laughing so hard.

    Bill Kelleher

  10. Jeff says:

    Hi Sue,
    There is a book out for rvers describing the different gun laws in different states. I don’t have it but it may be helpful to you: http://rvbookstore.com/shop/detail.aspx?m=2&p=367

  11. William B. Kelleher says:

    Somebody on fiberglass RV made this comment.

    “don’t buy a ‘gun laws’ book …
    don’t buy a book to research gun laws, the laws change almost daily ! …

    here’s a free website that attempts to stay current:

    Concealed Carry – Reciprocity Maps – Concealed Weapons Permit Info

    don’t bother to ask a cop about the laws either, as most don’t know, themselves … (they’re cops, not attorneys) …

    one thing you can be sure of, GUN LAWS are different in most every state … I have concealed-gun permits (CCW) in 3 different states, recognized by about 31 states, at this time (like I said, the laws are changing constantly) … most of these states do NOT allow ‘open carry’ … even though I have a concealed permit, I would be arrested if seen carrying my weapon in plain view”

    Bill Kelleher

    PS when I pasted the quote in my comment only part of it showed up. When I clicked on cancel comment the whole thing showed up. ( computer are so much fun. NOT )

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      If you only knew the convoluted mess I go through sometimes trying to make a post with photos on this blog! I write in fear. One wrong click and I’m doomed.

      The gun laws are crazy. I’ve tried to do some research. My eyes glaze over and I end up getting in the PTV and driving into town for a chicken sandwich.

      Thanks for trying to clarify and for the additional info.

  12. Carmen says:

    Well Sue, I had to stop by after reading your blog and I have to say it made me laugh. I have never thought about women handling guns later in life. In my family we started early (as soon as you would not fall when standing w/a shot gun). But it does help me understand that not all females know how to identify, handle, reload and clean hand guns (rifles, shot guns, etc). I think your going to do just fine, you proved it when you did not turn and run out of the building. The gun laws are crazy and remember, it’s attorneys’ that write them so they change often and most of the time do not make sense. I thank you for sharing and look forward to reading more of your adventures. Bill is right, all states are different. Arizonia is the most lenient.
    Safe travels and safe times, Carmen

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Carmen,

      I’m always happy to hear I made someone laugh.

      Yes, guns are foreign to me. I grew up with no brothers, for one thing, and my two ex-husbands didn’t own guns. Also my father’s hunting hobby faded away when we girls were small.

      I remember when he came home from duck hunting with friends. I was sitting on the front porch as they dropped him off. He walked up the steps past me, lowered 4 or 5 ducks tied together onto the porch and went into the house without saying a word. I remember I was awed by how gorgeous those ducks were with their iridescent feathers and rich colors.

      Later I heard Dad talking to Mother about those “beautiful birds.” We ate them, but I don’t remember Dad doing much hunting after that.

  13. Pauline Nash says:

    Susan, you have always had the ability to write and I, along with everyone else, are enjoying each entry. I uncderstand your tears…you were always so tender-hearted and I am sure all that power in your hands was frightening. I learned to use a pistol when Jerold was working out of state and I had a business to run by myself. I think it is a very good idea for you to have one and to know how to use it. You must keep on practising thought.

    Thanks so much for the pictures you sent me…I love them.

    And I love you

  14. Kim says:

    Hmmm, it’s interesting when these threads come up about solo women and safety.

    When a man carries a gun, no one seems to take notice. But when it’s a woman, people ask “why”? “What are you afraid of”?

    EXCUSE ME ………???? Shouldn’t it be the other way around?

    How come the predators get to carry lethal weapons and the preyed-upon are supposed to carry wasp spray?

  15. Hi Sue, Love your blog. Herb and I look forward to reading it each day. You will love it “on the road” as we are home now and BORED! Just a footnote as I reminisce about the people we met in Mexico. Taking a gun into Mexico is considered a serious crime, and if found during one of their many roadside searches, you will go to jail, Mexican jail…YUK. But, good for you increasing your learning curve wherever you can. I have a can of wasp spray in our rig, for wasps! I have Herb for scary things. Keep up the fun news from you and your crew. Cindy

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      I remember back in ’68. I was scared that I would have a fender-bender and end up doing hard labor in a Mexican jail for 20 years. All that aside, it seems to have improved over the years. I get the impression people don’t get dysentery quite as often (another memory). The people — minus the drug element — are wonderful.

      I’m so glad you are looking forward to reading my blog each day. After all the accolades I would be crushed if people stopped reading it. Thanks!

  16. Greg says:


    I have to admit to absolute astonishment that you were not bombarded by readers who abhor the whole idea of guns – especially in the hands of a novice. I have read many a bulletin board and every time the subject of guns pops up – well let’s just say a lot of folks are set in their ways.

    You are to be commended for learning how to use the darn thing and I would hope that you continue to go to the range for as much practice you can squeeze in.

    Don’t know about others but I canNOT wait until you actually hit the road. I do believe you will have some stories to tell…..

    greg and jean

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Cheers to you, too, Greg and Jean!

      I promise I will go to the range and practice. This week I have a lot of things going on — not everything gets into the blog! — in preparation for selling the house. So I’m following Ivan’s directive and doing some “dry practice” (no bullets). The purpose is to make my grip, stance and aim automatic. Then I’ll go back to the range and be able to focus on shooting that mean ol’ target.

      I canNOT wait either! I mean how many posts can I write about birds, auto repairs and childhood flashbacks! This is rvsue and her canine crew NOT going-to-be-rvsue and her canine crew! Stick with me . . . The crew and I WILL hit the road someday soon.

  17. Nancy says:

    So sad… Hoping Marg outlives me and everyone I love as well.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi Nancy,

      It’s sad, yes. When I start choking up about it, I try to think about the long, trouble-free life he’s had, better than zillions of cats around the world. Thanks for stopping by.

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