Your Best Shot

Thinking about all the attempted murder charges among my students I blurted, “That’s why you’re all such bad shots!”

“Yeah, I guess we are,” he said with a half-thoughtful, half-embarrassed laugh.

Over the weekend my husband asked me to shoot his custom 1911. I prefer rifles, and avoid high caliber pistols when shooting for recreation, but I humored him. For the first time in my life I put five .45 rounds in the ten-ring from 30 yards. Beautiful. For a fleeting second I thought about bringing my target to school, then thought better of it. My husband e-mailed a picture of me and my target to his dad because I had out-shot the men in the family.

As I reflected on our rare experience, the ability to shoot anything from a high-powered rifle to a .22 pistol within a few steps of my back porch, I found myself wondering: where do gang-bangers learn to shoot? Were they really the poor shots my husband ridiculed?

My answer? A shrug of the shoulders. With a little more prying I learned that, “they give you a gun and a bandanna and tell you to shoot at someone. That was my final test [to get jumped into the gang].” I didn’t ask any more questions about the results of his test, I knew that’s not what had landed him here. At the same time I couldn’t hold back, “That’s all?” His look said it all, “Is there more?” He quickly added, “They tell you to aim for the head.”

In my mind I  contrasted my hours of instruction on trigger control, sight picture, follow through, and breathing techniques to what he just described. I really could shoot better than my gangster students. Unable to contain myself, I burst into laughter. Under normal circumstances I don’t advice erupting into laughter at the expense of a tough guy–they really hate that–but I surprised him too much to make him mad.

I blurted, “That’s why you’re all such bad shots.”

“I was a good shot. I shot a lot,” he said in defense, although he wouldn’t say where he practiced. He thought for a moment and admitted, “I was probably a bad shot too.”

Well he wasn’t going to get any tips from me. If he went on to live an honest life he wouldn’t need to know; and if he returned to gang-banging I wanted him to miss. Let them miss their targets, all of them.


About hey miss

A teacher. A prison guard. I used to think that was like oil and water. Like lightening and metal. Some days it is. Some days it's magic.
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