I remember taking this picture of my dad. He was so proud of his trophy and his garden. Happy times.
Target shooting. I went so many times with the my dad in the desert to practice shooting guns. I recently went for the first time in years. It was pretty emotional.
My dad’s hobby since I can remember was reloading bullets and shooting guns in the desert or at the gun range. He would do competition shooting every weekend. I would help collect all the shells and would help reload the bullets in the garage. I would pull the handle, filling each bullet with gun powder, and hearing the ‘tink’ as the reloaded bullet fell into the bowl. This would go on for hours. I often wonder if it was therapeutic for my dad to reload bullets. The sounds could be soothing in a way. There was quiet time to think and process things.
To think that my dad used his own gun with his own reloaded bullet, to end his life, is ironic. And sad. And devastating. I haven’t touched a gun in years. So when I finally used a gun to go target shooting, it was way more emotional than I thought it would be. I wasn’t quite prepared for that. After I shot my first round, the tears flowed. That gun was so powerful in my hands. The sound of the gun firing with each shot was loud and deafening. How could my dad use this method to end his life? He, more than most people, knew how powerful guns were. He taught me gun safety and always made sure that the gun was pointed down and away from anyone, loaded or not. He carried guns to protect his family. So ironic, on that fateful day, he did quite the opposite to protect his family.
I felt so sad and devastated after shooting that powerful gun in the desert. To know that my dad suffered so badly, ending his life using the one thing that brought him joy, is just so devastating. He knew it would be quick. The officers who responded to my moms gut wrenching call, said that it was in an instant that he was gone. He felt no pain. He knew what he was doing. How long did he think about doing this for? The specifics of where he was going to do it and how? Its all so nauseating to think about.
I did not do well with my target practice. I don’t think I actually ever hit the big circle on the target! Years ago I would say that I could do pretty well, hitting bottles and cans from far away. But not this time. My husband asked if I was scared of the gun. YES! I was and still am. I am still recovering from the trauma surrounding my dad and his decision. I am not afraid of the gun itself, but every time I see a gun, I think of my dad and what was going through his mind while holding it. Every time I pull the trigger on the gun, it triggers thoughts about my dad. How alone he must have felt.
Soon enough I will be able to hold that gun and make those targets. I know my dad would be so proud of me with my efforts. Until then, I will retrieve the casings from the dirt, remembering the good times with my dad on many weekends out shooting.