Monday, March 30, 2009


Some times, I wish I had the skill of a poet. I think there are times when I have the soul of a poet, but very rarely does the skill to translate into words what I see or feel ever come along with it. However, I'm willing to give it a shot :)

This morning was one of the yearly firearms recertification dates. About a dozen of us gathered this morning at an outdoor range owned by a county sheriff's office. Since our agency is spread through out the state, there were folks from several different county offices present, though all from our upstate area. It's kind of nice as we get to see folks that we don't see on a regular basis, renew ties, and catch up on the latest doings.

We always arrive a few minutes early, just so we can get together and catch up. So there we are, a dozen agents and four Instructors. It's been raining for four days straight, and I think there was a little trepidation on everyone's part that it would be cold and rainy. But the day dawned bright and clear, if a little cool. Temperature was probably up into the low forties by the time we got started.

We're all in position, listening while the instructors go through the obligatory speech on rules of safety. Listen to the Rangemaster, only load and charge on his instructions, follow his commands for the order of shooting, etc..

During a brief lull, I glance skyward. Above me is a young RedTail Hawk. Old enough to be in his adult plumage, yet young enough to still be a little smaller and more slender than a full grown adult. He's gliding effortlessly through the air about a hundred feet above me. Just as I register the fact of the hawk and his breed, he stalls. His tail flairs, his wings scoop forward, and he just sort of hangs there for an eternal second. A thrill runs through me, because I sense that he's about to dive. He's spotted something on the ground, that is about to go on the menu. Then suddenly, with a few quick flaps of his wings, he's back to gliding through the air. Whatever it was he saw, either moved under cover, or he changed his mind about putting it on the menu. It's a bit of a let down, but then I remember where I am, and why I'm there.

The instructors are done. We all step up to the line, load, charge, and re-holster. At the order, we step up to touching distance of a targets, and assume a standard interview stance. Everyone has eyes and ears on, and the stillness is calming, at least to me. In my peripheral vision, I see some starting to fidget. I smile a little, mostly on the inside. I think to myself that those who fidget, are those who view qualifying as an ordeal, and view it's approach with dread. If they just get out and practice more, they wouldn't feel that way. I'm letting my imagination run away with me, picturing how much better my companions might be with a little more practice... When my reverie is shattered by the Rangemaster's voice shouting "TWO!!"

Reflexes and training kick in and almost before I realize what's going on, I've smashed a strike into the face of the target while shouting orders, and am stepping and sliding away as I draw, and place two shots where the target's heart would be. The stillness I've been basking in is shattered as everyone else on the line is doing the same thing I am at that moment. Then it's over. The leftover whispers of shouted commands mingling with the dying echoes of gunfire up and down the line. The smell of gunpowder is now drifting through the air. I'm hard pressed to keep the big grin off of my face and get ready for the next command.

The grin is there because the entire time I'm thinking,"it's a beautiful day, I'm surrounded by friends and co-workers, I'm shooting, and to top it all off, I'm on the clock. I'm here, getting paid to have just about as much fun as you can have, and still keep your pants on :) "

SO....maybe not poetic, but it was a damn fine day, and I had a heck of a time. Hope you enjoyed your day as much as I did mine.


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