America is in the grip of an ammunition shortage right now, with much of the manufactured ammo being purchased directly by the government for law enforcement and military agencies. Why is this relevant? Well, during our visit to Texas, the friend we were visiting suggested that we head to a firing range with her gun and bust a few caps in some target’s ass (I believe that is how the saying goes). Cue a quest to find the right ammunition for her 9MM Ruger. We struck lucky in a Bass Pro Shops store when we managed to be scouring the shelves just as a member of staff arrived to put their entire stock of ammo out: six boxes.
Still, we only needed one. Careful, the British have the ammo!
We picked the Pasadena Gun Center and Shooting Range purely because they had indoor facilities. Our friend Shannon’s regular range was closer, but this was Texas in mid-June: it was hitting 35°C by 10AM, hovering around 40°C in the early afternoons. In conditions such as those I burn to a crisp in under five minutes if I’ve missed even the smallest patch with sunblock.
The staff were friendly and helpful, checking that we were going to be safe, showing us how to use the equipment, and forbidding anyone from entering without already wearing the ear protectors provided. Use of the facilities was $9 per person, ear protector rental and one paper target included. Putting a round in the target’s metal support would incur a $25 fee, should we be that awful a shot. We signed ourselves in, and passed through the moderately terrifying doors into the even more terrifying darkness beyond.
The poor lighting has a purpose, but it made the area look like a dungeon. We were assigned Stall 6, and I’ll admit to some trepidation while approaching it. Handguns, for those who don’t know, are illegal in the UK. I haven’t handled one in twenty or so years. Mr. Troo held a shotgun license recently, so I was able to shoot at clays within living memory, but there’s something far more frightening about a handgun. It’s too easy to take your eyes off, I think, too easy for your attention to wander away. You can’t forget you’re carrying a shotgun, and safety dictates you’ve always got it broken over your arm when you do.
The ammunition comes in boxes of 50 rounds, so Mr. Troo and I split it 20/30. We would have gone 25/25, but I had sprained my ankle earlier in the week, and the ground wasn’t terribly even, since it seems a distressing amount of customers had been shooting it (and the walls, and the ceiling).
As I can hardly take pictures of myself being super-awesome, this is Shannon, taking one of her shots.
I found it a fairly curious experience. As this is a small pistol, the recoil felt negligible, and resulted in the muzzle of the gun jumping upward on each discharge rather than pushing back against me. The short muzzle also meant that there was a significant amount of flash, as well as sparks of burning propellant. As a writer, this was very much a research outing for me, but I also couldn’t help but feel just a little bit smug about the bad day my target was having.
This is also an excellent way to dispel any notions foreigners might have about gun-totin’ Texans and their gung-ho crazy ways. While we were there, other customers came and went. Some brought handguns, some brought rifles (seriously, one chap rolled up with a 5.56mm AR15 that sounded like a cannon), but every one of them brought a warm smile and a friendly hello.
Visiting the Pasadena Gun Center and Shooting Range:
A short distance from the Pasadena Freeway. Click here to see the location in Google maps.
Admission: $9. Due to ammunition shortages the Range is not currently lending guns, so bring your own.