I take the gun from him and step into the shooting lane. It’s heavier than I expected. I let the barrel sag, watch it tilt before correcting it. I let it rest on the shelf while the paper outline of a man rolls backward away from me.
It is not the small snub-nosed weapon I had eyed at the counter. Not the gun that reminded me of the one I had found in my grandfather’s bedside table. That was a girl’s gun, they assured me, exchanging a laugh. So I hold this gun limp until the target reaches the end of the track, swaying back and forth, waving off its momentum.
He lifts one side of the earmuffs, barking over flashes in the surrounding stalls. Arms up, just like on Uncle Mark’s farm, he reminds me. I struggle with the weight, to lift it to eye level. I feel I should let it rest. My arms pass on the burden and I am lifting completely with my chest.
The handle of Uncle Mark’s silver revolver barely fits in my hands. The smell of spray paint fresh on my fingers. Dad supports my hands and holds the revolver steady. His instructions are warm and smell like cheap beer. Take all the time you want, this ain’t like hunting a live animal, it ain’t gonna run away, Uncle Mark encourages. I’ve touched the glassy eyes of the deer head mounted in the farmhouse.
I swat at flying bugs while Dad and Uncle Mark shoot at white rings painted on the sycamore trees.
He stands back and waits, watching me like a deer about to spring into action, leap away from danger. I clench my teeth, preparing for the sound, and squeeze the trigger.