My First Time Shooting A Gun Will Not Be My Last

My First Time Shooting A Gun Will Not Be My Last

The Beretta 686 Silver Pigeon is a powerful weapon.
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With the end of the stock pressed up against the inside of my shoulder and my left hand comfortably yet firmly grasping the gun, my right thumb turns off the safety with one flick, and I close my left eye. Focusing my gaze along the center of the gun, I say, “Pull.”

All of a sudden, the sporting clay shoots out from the left. My gun follows its target moving 50 miles per hour. I pull the trigger. The once singular solid piece of clay has exploded and severed into multiple pieces. I watch as the broken clay pieces fall to the ground.

My family in the remaining spots of the 5 stand erupted in cheers. I had successfully hit the most difficult thrower of 5 stand on my first day ever shooting a gun.

The gun I shot was a 28 gauge hunting shotgun called the Beretta 686 Silver Pigeon. This shotgun is compact and low-profile while still being extremely powerful, and its top 686 action is preferred among competitive shooters and serious hunters.

The 28 gauge produces a considerably low action, allowing for a true premium-grade experience. This gun was chosen for me by the sporting club’s Shooting Professional due to my inexperience with shooting a gun. The 686 Silver Pigeon has 2 cone-shaped locking lugs at mid-action between the barrels. This feature gives it good locking strength and durability while still keeping its scaled-down action profile.

As someone who was once terrified of guns, my experience shooting sporting clays was one I’ll never forget. It helped me to realize that guns are not as scary as they seem, and I look forward to my next visit to the clay range.

Cover Image Credit: Tina Alvino

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​An Open Letter To The People Who Don’t Tip Their Servers

This one's for you.
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Dear Person Who Has No Idea How Much The 0 In The “Tip:" Line Matters,

I want to by asking you a simple question: Why?

Is it because you can't afford it? Is it because you are blind to the fact that the tip you leave is how the waiter/waitress serving you is making their living? Is it because you're just lazy and you “don't feel like it"?

Is it because you think that, while taking care of not only your table but at least three to five others, they took too long bringing you that side of ranch dressing? Or is it just because you're unaware that as a server these people make $2.85 an hour plus TIPS?

The average waiter/waitress is only supposed to be paid $2.13 an hour plus tips according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

That then leaves the waiter/waitress with a paycheck with the numbers **$0.00** and the words “Not a real paycheck." stamped on it. Therefore these men and women completely rely on the tips they make during the week to pay their bills.

So, with that being said, I have a few words for those of you who are ignorant enough to leave without leaving a few dollars in the “tip:" line.

Imagine if you go to work, the night starts off slow, then almost like a bomb went off the entire workplace is chaotic and you can't seem to find a minute to stop and breathe, let alone think about what to do next.

Imagine that you are helping a total of six different groups of people at one time, with each group containing two to 10 people.

Imagine that you are working your ass off to make sure that these customers have the best experience possible. Then you cash them out, you hand them a pen and a receipt, say “Thank you so much! It was a pleasure serving you, have a great day!"

Imagine you walk away to attempt to start one of the 17 other things you need to complete, watch as the group you just thanked leaves, and maybe even wave goodbye.

Imagine you are cleaning up the mess that they have so kindly left behind, you look down at the receipt and realize there's a sad face on the tip line of a $24.83 bill.

Imagine how devastated you feel knowing that you helped these people as much as you could just to have them throw water on the fire you need to complete the night.

Now, realize that whenever you decide not to tip your waitress, this is nine out of 10 times what they go through. I cannot stress enough how important it is for people to realize that this is someone's profession — whether they are a college student, a single mother working their second job of the day, a new dad who needs to pay off the loan he needed to take out to get a safer car for his child, your friend, your mom, your dad, your sister, your brother, you.

If you cannot afford to tip, do not come out to eat. If you cannot afford the three alcoholic drinks you gulped down, plus your food and a tip do not come out to eat.

If you cannot afford the $10 wings that become half-off on Tuesdays plus that water you asked for, do not come out to eat.

If you cannot see that the person in front of you is working their best to accommodate you, while trying to do the same for the other five tables around you, do not come out to eat. If you cannot realize that the man or woman in front of you is a real person, with their own personal lives and problems and that maybe these problems have led them to be the reason they are standing in front of you, then do not come out to eat.

As a server myself, it kills me to see the people around me being deprived of the money that they were supposed to earn. It kills me to see the three dollars you left on a $40 bill. It kills me that you cannot stand to put yourself in our shoes — as if you're better than us. I wonder if you realize that you single-handedly ruined part of our nights.

I wonder if maybe one day you will be in our shoes, and I hope to God no one treats you how you have treated us. But if they do, then maybe you'll realize how we felt when you left no tip after we gave you our time.

Cover Image Credit: Hailea Shallock

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My Blood Runs Deep For My Favorite Team, And Nothing Will Ever Change That

Dab on 'em!

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The Carolina Panthers are the NFL team that represents North and South Carolina. I am born and raised in North Carolina. Despite the New York accent that some of my friends can pick up on. My first memory with this team was the Super Bowl for the 2004 season. The Panthers lost to the New England Patriots 32-29. I remember being so upset as I watched the football sail through the uprights for the Patriots, dooming my team to defeat. Ever since then I always watched every single Panther game that I could. The ups and downs of this team are well known to anyone who follows this team.

The Panthers as of writing this have not put together back-to-back winning seasons. There are sixteen games in an NFL season. The Panthers have had great seasons followed by horrible seasons. The 2015 Panthers won fifteen of sixteen regular season games. They went to the Super Bowl that year. They lost again, but the team is still trying to get its first championship. The very next season the team won only six games and did not even make the playoffs. The team is talented in my opinion, it just comes down to working together and trying to recreate that magic to make to the Super Bowl.

The team has provided me with so many memories. They had a game against New England on Monday Night Football. The ending was deemed controversial, but at the end of the game when the clock hit double zeros, the Panthers had won. This leads to another great memory with a favorite player of mine. His name is Steve Smith. He always brought heart and toughness to the team. He was fighting with a Patriots player during the whole game. A reporter asked him after the game what happened, he replied "I don't know, ask him, he didn't finish the game. ICE UP SON!!"

That will always be a favorite memory of mine that comes from this team. I can't wait until the season starts again and I can make even more memories with my favorite team.

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