Red Card Roberts
Of all the amendments to the Constitution, I used to think the Second Amendment was my least favorite. It just did nothing for me. Quite obviously, I very much enjoy my freedom of speech, and of the press. Though there are some Sunday mornings I curse the 21st Amendment, I’m generally content with a nice glass of wine. And of course, number 19, allowing those of us with a uterus to vote, I find of particular importance.
But the Second Amendment, the one ensuring us the right to bear arms, I was never entirely sold on. Mostly this is because I’ve never been comfortable around guns. Until recently, my only experience with them was that I sometimes watched "Law & Order." In general, they make me nervous.
But then again, so do spiders, motorcycles and small children.
So, setting out to overcome my fear of firearms, I called up Roger Armstrong, one of the owners of The Park City Gun Club.
But to call it simply a gun club though is sort of like calling Mount Rushmore a slab of rock. This place is pretty slick. Comfortable leather furnishings, private classrooms, a live simulation center, and even a retail area that seems much more upscale boutique than the Republican redneck vibe I expected.
The men working at the club greeted me with an earnest desire to help, and there is no intimidating good-ol’-boys’-club feel to the place. Which, according to co-owner Dan Labov, was part of the initial design. "We wanted a place where everyone would feel welcomed and at ease. We don’t just cater to men. We created this club for everyone — women, families and children," he said.
In fact, Dan says women make up about 40 percent of their business, and they even host birthday parties at the club. "We offer a weekly women’s-specific clinic as well," he added. (They even sell pink guns.)
According to Roger, the reason for this is simple. "More women are purchasing pistols than ever before."
And he’s right. A recent Gallup Poll found 43 percent of women now own guns an all-time high across the United States.
"Owning a gun is a personal choice, and if you decide to own one, it is critical to learn how to handle, use and store it safely," Roger added.
And with that, we began my lesson. Roger laid out a selection of small guns on the table in the private classroom for me to examine. Which made me really nervous. I started to sweat and could feel my heart beating faster.
"This makes me really bijigity," I admitted.
He smiled effortlessly and began calming me down by showing me that all the guns were unloaded. He took them apart and explained what each little piece does. His voice was so soothing and his demeanor so relaxed, I couldn’t help but wonder if he records books on tape as a second job. Probably lullabies. I don’t even know what he said (which is marginally dangerous considering he was telling me how to shoot a gun), but I was suddenly relaxed and feeling more comfortable. Maybe he’s a hypnotist, too.
Roger told me he bought his first gun 30 years ago, right after his friend’s mom was murdered. "You don’t get to choose when something bad is going to happen. The odds are overwhelmingly against you ever needing a gun, but if you find yourself in a situation where you do need one, it’s better not to be helpless," he said. "I believe it’s better to have a gun and never need it than to need a gun and not have one."
After reassembling the guns, Roger taught me what he said are the four fundamentals of accurate shooting: grip, sight alignment, trigger control and stance.
"If all of those things are right, you’re going to shoot more accurately," he assured me.
After an hour of training, Roger determined I was ready for the real thing. "Let’s get a gun in your hands," he said. (Undoubtedly, he is the only man who will ever say that to me.)
With that, we entered the range, where once again I started to panic and looked for a brown paper bag to breathe into. And once again, Roger assured me I was only scared because it’s all unfamiliar.
I got my breathing under control and, finally, I was ready to shoot at a piece of paper. I fired the first bullet and the casing hit me in the face. Immediately I recalled a scene from "A Christmas Story" and believed I’d shot my eye out. Seemingly reading my mind, Roger told me this is normal and reminded me it’s why the safety glasses are required. "You’re doing great," he told me.
After several rounds, I felt more confident, my aim improved, and my palms quit sweating. I was even having fun, albeit, a different caliber of fun. And apparently I was smiling, because Roger knowingly nodded his head and said, "Now that you know a bit more about guns and you’re more educated about using one, it’s not as scary."
While I won’t be sporting an NRA bumper sticker on my car anytime soon, I do have to admit, the Second Amendment is no longer my least favorite. That distinction now goes to #16 — the one that makes us pay taxes.
To learn more, visit: http://www.TheParkCityGunClub.com . To reach the club, take Kearns Boulevard (S.R. 248) east out of town, passing under U.S. Highway 40. Turn left on the frontage road heading north. Take the second right (North Forestdale Drive). The Park City Gun Club is on your left .3 miles ahead.
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Amy Roberts is a freelance writer, public-relations guru and globe-trotting thrill seeker. In a former life she worked in TV news, both as a reporter and sports anchor. She has bagged peaks on six continents, kayaked the Zambezi and Nile rivers, swam with great white sharks in South Africa and tracked mountain gorillas in Rwanda. She was once very nearly sold for 2,000 camels while traveling through Morocco.
Two people indicated in interviews they are considering mounting campaigns for the Park City Council, a signal the City Hall election could attract an intriguing slate of candidates in a year when the majority of the five seats are on the ballot.