About 10 years ago I moved from Northern Michigan to Central Florida. In Michigan we savor the late spring, summer and fall because that is the only time of year you can get out your golf clubs and hit the links. In the winter we watch the PGA TOUR on TV and learn all about erectile dysfunction medicines and investments strategies. Seriously, if you watch Golf on TV, those are the only commercials. While snow falls outside we read articles on how not to shank the ball and the new gear all available with the hope of shaving a few strokes off our game.
All of that changed when I moved to Florida. My first thought was that I’d golf here all the time. It never snows here, but as it turns out it’s hot in Florida and humid too. When it’s not hot and humid, it’s either night time or raining. In the winter months it’s also 5 times more expensive to play. I still love Golf but playing is a lot harder than it used to be. I play more golf when I go home to visit family than I do living in Florida. One reason is that I have kids. The idea of leaving my wife at home with two small children while Dad lives it up for 18 holes just doesn’t seem fair. Dad Guilt! Another reason is that I don’t seem to be good at it any more. I’ve gotten old, my eyes are not as good, I’ve put on weight, my joints and flexibility are diminished and the whole endeavor is more work now than play. On the occasional outing I still manage enjoy myself, focus more on the positive rather than the negative but it’s just not the same. Usually by the middle of the round I’m looking forward to the girl in the tight shirt driving the beer cart more than anything.
Still, I needed an outlet for my spare time and extra money, and that is when chance, opportunity and desire conspired to make me the new owner of a gun. To be fair I had already owned a pump action 12 gauge. It was something I purchased after a rash of burglaries in my neighborhood. However, I never really got comfortable with it. It makes a nice recognizable sound that says SHTF / GTFO. It did the job until an opportunity to buy a beloved Icon of the 9mm family, seen in practically every movie came along. I was finally at a point in my life where I could buy a gun I’ve seen thousands of times, the Beretta 92 or in my case an M9A1. I’m not going to go into if that was a good choice or not, but I wanted it and I figured if the Army could teach people how to use it then I could learn too.
I couldn’t just own the handgun. So I got a nice range bag. And you need earmuffs, and eye protection so I got those things too. And then you need tools, brushes, patches & CLP to clean your guns. You need Ammo, and a safe place to keep all that stuff organized. My first trip to the range I looked like a walking Beretta billboard but I didn’t care. You’ve all seen that guy right? We all shake our head and think, “Oh boy, I hope this guy doesn’t get me killed”, more money than sense! I’ve been drinking the Beretta Kool-Aid from a young age so I didn’t care. My first brush with Beretta was my Grandfathers Beretta semi-auto 12 gauge Shotgun. My grandfather was the guy at the local Trap shoot that would simply wait for the other guy to miss before taking home the prize. He was that good. It’s hard to shake that brand loyalty when it’s tied to a beloved family member, and if it was good enough for Grandpa it’s good enough for me!
So here is where my Golf / Shooting parallel came into play. Just as my golf clubs needed a bag, and golf balls, and tees, and a golf glove and all the other junk, so does the shooting sports. For me it was almost an even trade in terms of expense. A good set of clubs will set you back $1000 or so, add in the bag and all the rest and you can easily add in another $1000 depending on if you buy pro jock wedges and putters, and leather staff bag. Not to mention Country Club memberships, bag storage, club cleaning and the list goes on. Gun = Clubs, Balls = Ammo, Range fee = Green Fees and so on. And best of all, going to the range takes considerably less time than 18 holes of golf.
I solved the dad guilt puzzle. I justified the use of my time and money as not only fun, but less time consuming than golf with the added benefit of learning to protect my family. These days I regularly slaughter paper targets at varying distances. It took me a while to get comfortable. I’d ask guys on the line for help, ask my friends and neighbors who were ex military, cops or prison guards for tips and tricks. I spent a lot of time reading and asking questions online. It was the exact same routine with golf. Why do I slice the ball? Why are my shots going low and to the left? Turns out there are some basic fundamentals that cause them both, but you need to be able to practice to master them. There is more to protecting your home and family than punching holes in paper, and I’m learning more as I go along. I think I’ll always be learning, practicing, and working on my skills. But, I have a good foundation, good tools and a familiarity I didn’t have 3 years ago. I’m safe and responsible and happy.
I have the Shooting bug. I’ve been out shooting clays; even got me an AR before someone decided it was illegal for me to buy one. Sound familiar? Yeah, I’m hooked!
I do miss the girl on the beer cart with the tight shirt though.