“Two shots to the body in one and a half seconds!” Gunsite Rangemaster Lew Gosnell shouts over my shoulder.
One sight picture, two trigger presses. A hammer pair. I'm skeptical. At three yards it’s basically point shooting, and it works, but every time we go back to seven the violence of recoil throws that second round. My grip and stance will need to be perfect.
Remember to breathe. In through your nose, out through your mouth. I'm standing to the far left of the firing line. I picked this position so I wouldn’t have to eat brass from my classmates for five days. At the moment I’m wishing I could stand anywhere else. The Instructor’s expert gaze directly over my shoulder reminds me that I'm not here for fun. This is serious business. The sixteen-hundred miles between me and home only adds to the feeling that I'm out of place.
I am comforted by the familiar weight of the Colt .45 on my belt. You have to bring a 1911 to Gunsite, right? I coach myself through the process once again: Square up to the target, support side foot slightly forward, bend your knees, weight on the balls of your feet. Your natural point of aim is good, as long as you see what you need to see, and smoothly press the trigger, you will get your hits.
My hands are sweating, and it’s not from the high desert sun. Nervous excitement gnaws in my stomach and I know that every move I make is being evaluated. It's Friday at Gunsite 250, and that means it's test day. To add to the pressure, last night a fellow student let slip that the instructors might be considering me for an Expert rating, and I want that golden “E-Ticket” more than I'm currently willing to admit.
“Watch your target!” Lew yells.
If you draw when your target moves it will be too late. You have to listen for the pneumatic actuator that turns your target stand. Hiss! My hand falls to the familiar steel and walnut grip of my pistol. Twenty-one feet downrange the tan and brown camouflage silhouette spins toward me in a blur. Up and out of the holster, click off the safety, firm pressure with the support hand, look for the red glow of the fiber optic front sight. SHOOT NOW! The trigger breaks like a glass rod and the pistol bucks up and away. I press the trigger again as soon as the recoil cycle is complete and the target vanishes as swiftly as it appeared.
Damn, that was quick! I hope that second shot hit. I don't have much time to dwell on my performance. We proceed back to ten and then fifteen yards. My mag pouches are running low. The sights say that my hits should be there, but at this distance it's hard to know for sure. Finally Lew goes downrange to evaluate. As I walk forward I can see light shining through tightly grouped holes in the head and upper torso. He turns back to me, “You might want to take a picture of that… perfect score.”
Who am I kidding? This shit is fun.