Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Leslie Langtry; Army of One

Many people might be surprised to know that I have more handguns than my husband. They would be equally shocked (and maybe somewhat concerned about knowing me) if they knew that several of my guns are more expensive than his (by the way, the same is true for my shoes and handbags. Not that he carries handbags that is.).

You may think that strange considering that he actually uses them in his work. But if you were aware of my self-destructive urges for all things PRADA and GUCCI, it makes perfect sense.

Where was I? Oh yeah. Scaring the hell out of my gentle readers. Except for the pirates. (This will affect my application to join the crew positively, right Hellion?). My interest in guns goes back probably to my adolescent love of all things pulp. My comic book heroes fought bad guys who had big, steel semi-automatics and some of my heroes used them - usually with one in each hand (which looked soooo awesome in primary colors!).

My father had a toy gun of his from the '40's. It was a huge .45 replica and it was heavy and looked totally real. I loved that thing. However, growing up in a liberal household also meant we had political cartoons around the house in favor of gun control on the fridge (I think my parents thought that confusing their children was somehow educational and not at all cruel). I was a bit of an anomaly (which sounds so much nicer than "fantasy-deluded geek" ). But I grew up thinking that if there were no guns, there'd be no violence. Kumblahyah blah blah.

Then, I met Tom. When Tom got out of the Army and moved all of his stuff into our apartment, I was a bit surprised to see duffel after duffel of amunition and armaments streaming through the front door. Had I married into a militaristic sleeper cell? Was I destined to see my life played out by Lindsey Wagner in a Hallmark tv special? I expressed my self-righteous, liberal horror. He decided I needed an education.

We were living in Lynchburg, Virginia (which has as their town hero a guy known as "The Lame Lion of Lynchburg," which is funny on it's own but for another time, perhaps) and Tom took me to a gun show (where you could smoke and they even gave out tobacco samples). He bought me a 9mm semiautomatic and decided to begin my education the next day at a shooting club in Roanoke.

Let me tell you why this did not work. First of all, a semiauto is very complicated and if you've never racked a slide before...okay, since I'd never racked a slide before, I found I couldn't. It was too heavy and I not only had wimpy little T-Rex arms, but also wimpy little fingers. Tom bought me a gun for a guy who's handled guns. The bastard.

The gun club had the answer. They recommended I start with a revolver and at the time, Smith and Wesson was making guns for women - it's Ladysmith line. My first real gun was a lovely .38 that was smaller to fit my hand, and it had a beautiful, handcarved mahogany grip. The club also had a class just for women taught by a retired female Secret Service agent. I signed up.

Tom then bought me the book, Armed & Female, by Paxton Quigley. I used to read it on airplanes (this was back in the early '90's). It kept the lecherous assholes who assumed I was a slutty college chick from talking to me. Sigh. I loved that. Well, not the part about being a slutty college chick, but the part about intimidating rednecks. MOM - SKIP TO THE NEXT PARAGRAPH. Okay, I actually liked the slutty college chick thingy too.

The class was amazing. Over nine weeks, we learned the history and parts of a gun, how to take it apart and put it back together, and finally, how to shoot. We shot everything with a firing pin. Police Officers were frequent visitors to the class and told us over and over that 1) they would rather teach women than men anyday and 2) women were far more terrifying to them than men in a life and death situation. (I think we all knew that, didn't we?)

Oh yeah. The class ended with a Practical Pistol Shooting competition. I came in second to a female police officer. The trophy sits in the playroom and the kids get a kick out of telling their friends it's not their dad's trophy - it's mom's.

I still shoot - not competitively anymore. We have a nice little range here at home I use. It's a phenomenal stress reliever. After about fifty shots dead center to a paper target and I feel better than I do after an entire box of homicidal-urge-erasing Midol.

And don't worry about me. I'm still a total bleeding-heart liberal...a well-armed one, but a liberal nonetheless.

The Assassin


terrio said...

If I wasn't frightened after that old knitting needles in the livingroom scene, I am now. Guns make me extremely nervous. Always have. A friend of mine married a gun enthusiast (read: large redneck) and she suddenly fell in love with them. Whipped out a Magnum or somesuch one day like it was a shiney new dust buster. Freaked me the heck out.

Oh, and I can assure you once I send the other pirates over, you will be more than just a crew member, you'll be Sin's hero. LOL!

Estella said...

You are a woman after my own heart. I grew up in the country and my Dad taught me to shoot. He took a Prince Albert tobacco can and hung it from a string. When I became prficient at hitting the can, he set it to swinging and I had to shoot the string and let the can fall. I really enjoy the look on some of my husbands friends faces when they see me shoot.

Leslie Langtry said...

I agree - safety comes first. Mine are all locked down. Your friend should be careful - in some states, brandishing a gun is a crime. A friend of mine said a woman once brought a gun to their critique group. Just placed it on the table and handed her stuff out for them to read. I would've secretly moved the group to a new location "forgetting" to tell her.

Estella - it always amazes Tom's friends when they see my targets. I love that.


Marnee Jo said...

I'm also a no gun kinda gal. I'm actually a giant wussy in my non-pirate life. Guns scare me too. :) But, I do believe your application has been approved to board the boat any time you'd like.

Jana DeLeon said...

Cool Leslie! We are soooooo related somehow. :)

terrio said...

That reminds me, one of the other ladies in my local RWA chapter carries a gun with her all the time. She's sort of a survivalist I think you'd say. We had a get together dinner last year and I made some joke about her being the most likely to be armed.

That reminded her she had her gun in her backpack and she had to go back outside and lock it in her car. LOL!

Tori Lennox said...

I used to think about taking shooting lessons. But I suspect that would be a bad idea now that I have really rotten depth perception. *g*

Christie Craig said...

Ohh, I love the idea of being armed. Ahh, but without a doubt something would happen if I had a gun. Something as in, I'd shoot myself, or an innocent bystander.

Crime Scene Christie

Sin said...

Terrific and most fabulous blog, Leslie!! I once tried to rack the slide and I thought I was the biggest wimp ever! I grew up in the country where you learned to shoot as a kid. Though, I've gotta say is was mostly potshots at squirells.

Ter is right, you're my unofficial hero. Gimme a couple of days and I'll get you fitted with a cape. LOL And bedazzle you a mask.

Keri Ford said...

*smile* my first and only handgun is a LadySmith .38 bought by my hubby. The recoil gets me on it cause I don't shoot it very often. I have to remember to aim low.

I got my first bow a few weeks ago! I popped my self in the arm twice and hubby just knew I'd quit when my whole forearm welped up red (I took a picture for a future guilt trip :O). I didn't quit, I love it, and yes, I hit the target on my first shot!

bookmobiler said...

"now that I have really rotten depth perception. *g*"

Its OK. You can still shoot.

As long as we get to stand behind you! :)

Beth said...

I shot my first handgun when I was 16. It belonged to my first boyfriend. His idea of a big date was to take me to the shooting range. After I out shot both he and his friend, he never took me back... I kind of miss it. It was fun!

Wendy said...

I can shoot with a semiautomatic with no problem but revolver scare the holy crap out of me. Do you not see the fire coming at you?! I tried shooting with one and couldn't get past two bullets.

My dad has a gun, he's also rather crazy so I get a bit worry he's carrying that thing aroung, he has a permit though.

Wendy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Leslie Langtry said...

Think about Switzerland - where every home is required to have a gun and the classes to back it up!

Jana - I always suspected we were separated at birth.

Sin - I can't wait for my bedazzled mask!

Keri - you are the only other person I know who owns a Ladysmith! Try the 9mm Ladysmith - I have that too and it's more fun to shoot.

Wendy - you must be shooting hot loads with the revolver - flames aren't supposed to shoot out so noticably!


MsHellion said...

*LOL* Leslie, you will always be welcome aboard the ship. We just need to get you a pirate hat.

Of course, you'll have to be prepared to show Sin how to shoot and share your guns with her. Of course, in exchange, you'll get a worshiping slave.

Kathy Bacus said...

Great post, Les! Oh, the good ol' days. My grandfather, dad, and brother shot competitive trapshooting and were hunters so my siblings and I were exposed to guns at an early age--and taught how to handle them safely. My first firearm was a police issue 357 Magnum when I was just 22. It's still my favorite firearm. Dependable. Sufficient firepower. And it means business.

I've also shot trap and skeet. I enjoyed trap more. You only have one clay target flying out of the traphouse to worry about.

~Bullet Hole~

Sin said...

I can't believe, Hellion, that you just told Leslie I'd be her worshipping slave.

But it's totally the truth. And I'm working hard at the bedazzled mask on the ship. I hope you like black and pink!