Fake It or Make It: Good Times with Weapons

News Editor

Staff Writer

We are lucky we are not part of the Toronto Police Force. So is the rest of the city.
As writers, we are told that the ‘pen is mightier than the sword’. While we both have faith in the truth of this statement, there’s no reason that we can’t have both, right? So in the spirit of this convergence of weapon and words, we took a trip down to the Target Sports Canada shooting range in Gromley to do some range shooting with a wide variety of weapons.

This is a range only 30 minutes outside of the downtown core, where $40 gets you in the door, and another $60 gets you a full slate of shotguns, sniper rifles, and pistols for target shooting. You will need (for good reason, I think) two pieces of ID, and to sign a waiver longer and more in-depth than Crocker’s dispute with Sundance Resorts. After that, you get a couple of hours worth of range time.

Since we have different ideas of why lawyers should know how to shoot, we’ve broken the articles up into two sections.

Kyle: I should first state that my political and social ideals tend towards stricter weapons control and I do not intend to glorify the use of such firearms in any capacity. That said, I really enjoyed looking at all of the shiny weapons that I had previously only experienced in video games (on picking up the .357 Magnum I had flashbacks to GoldenEye N64—probably inappropriate all things considered), and I found target shooting an interesting arena to attempt zen-like concentration (not that any Zen Master would approve of recreational discharge of firearms, of course).

There are a few legitimate reasons why prospective lawyers should know their way around a pistol. While it is unlikely that senior partners at your law firm will invite you out for a few rounds of clay pigeon shooting (unless your firm represents Suncor, that is), a certain level of familiarity with weapons can come in handy. I will outline these situations here, and then provide a brief guide of what you can expect if you go to a shooting range for the first time and have never fired a gun before (as was the case for me).

Lawyers often represent clients accused of crimes. Sometimes, these crimes are committed with the assistance of a weapon. Occasionally, these weapons are firearms. It is difficult to defend (or prosecute, as the case may be) an individual in a case involving a weapon if you haven’t used one yourself. Think about the advantage you would gain if you can understand what a police officer is talking about when she references the recoil of her pistol when she fired upon a suspect, or the defendant who claims his gun discharged accidentally when he dropped it. Not that I’m an expert in criminal advocacy, but I think that an ability to immerse oneself in the minutia of a case can be an extremely effective way of ensuring that no detail escapes the notice of the court.

Second, lawyers are often involved in the sphere of politics, or at least in the zone of public policy creation. I’ve always been a proponent of ‘gun control’, though I never really knew the details of what I was asking the government to regulate. Going to this shooting gallery enlivened me to exactly what kinds of lethal weapons are in circulation among Canadian citizens. Being able to shred a paper target from 25 metres, or spot the silhouette of a human head down the scope of a sniper rifle really brought it home to me the fact that people possess these weapons in towns all across Canada, and we are putting a huge amount of trust in our fellow citizens not to use them incorrectly. I think it’s a testament to the decency of most people that we have has as few shooting deaths as we do. Though this is my personal view, I’m sure anyone can appreciate that it’s important to understand the full scope of an activity before forming opinions on its regulation.

So if I’ve convinced you that as law students and future leaders that it’s worthwhile to get a grounding in munitions and firearms, there’s a couple of things you should know before you go to a shooting range for the first time. First, picking up a weapon can be quite intimidating. While we see fictional heroes brandishing their weapons with reckless abandon, there’s a certain gravity that you will feel in picking up a weapon that can be difficult to get over. The staff at any shooting range are legally required to give you a brief training session to make sure you are safe. Also, I recommend not starting off your shooting session with a Reuger .38 special, which as the instructor told me in a thick Eastern European accent: “Has much stopping power. Interesting choice for first shoot”. To me, it felt like shooting a cannon, and was difficult to get used to. Finally, don’t be intimidated by the gun experts that will invariably be crowding the range. The staff are used to the inexperienced coming down for bachelor parties and the like, so they understand the learning curve.

But there are more important reasons for knowing how to handle a firearm, as RJ will detail.

RJ: There is another concern we had as well. You see, we have long been worried about a problem that may arise in our lifetimes. For years, we have been warned to be vigilant and be prepared for this terrifying and yet inevitable day in which we would have to be prepared to do what is necessary to survive.

We speak, of course, about the zombie apocalypse.

We decided, therefore, that as a group we should sample a variety of different firearms to not only determine their utility but also to determine what role we would play if we were to ever create a fighting force against the hordes of brain eating monsters. We decided to do 2 types of pistols: a shotgun and a sniper rifle.

It should be noted that I have been shooting since I was a young, both with my father and with the Air Cadets. As such, being at a range was not that unfamiliar to me. I must still say, however, that being at a range which is also a gun store is still an interesting experience for me. The culture that exists in a place like that is designed to both encourage people to attend while also catering to a specific type of clientele. For example, you have nice open space and windows and glass to view things, while the staff wears black polos, dark pants and baseball caps.

Armed as we were (with the staff member carrying everything, required by law, no doubt) we went onto the range, ready to show our prowess with the weaponry, honed with years of practice on the range (for some) and in a first-person-shooter video game (for us all).

We began with the pistol shooting, as we figured we should get that down pat as it would be our last line of defense from the horde. It also coincidentally was the one the staff set up first. The two of us soon realized that we would not be the persons using the pistols - not without a ton of more practice. I was woefully inaccurate with the pistol, unlike in my youth, leading me to determine how much it would cost for me to practice enough to get back to where I was. Kyle on the other hand, while being his first time shooting, as it was also Andrew’s first time, had a habit of always shooting low to the groin area of the target. We’ll leave that to Dr. Freud to determine.

Andrew was a different story. Andrew “Pistolero” Monkhouse was a dead shot with the 9mm Sig Sauer and the .357 Magnum. We knew then that we had the right guy to defend us in the zombie apocalypse. At this point, we figured we would be foraging for food while Andrew played hero. What kind of dystopian future has a man with an unusual penchant for pocket squares as it’s savior.

We then mercifully watched Andrew be not as accurate with a shot gun but, let’s face it, you don’t need to be accurate with a shotgun. It is as close to the point and shoot of duck hunter as is possible in real life. Except unlike in duck hunter, the dog is probably a zombie too (thanks for that I am Legend!)

The three of us then moved on to the sniper rifle. It was Winchester .223 rifle with a magnifying scope, composite stock and a blued/black barrel. The target they gave us, we felt, was not necessarily useful to a zombie apocalypse, but, hey, it is a gun place. So, the targets were five groupings of a hostage taker and a hostage. The idea was to shoot the hostage taker and leave the hostage unscathed.

We are lucky we are not part of the Toronto Police Force. So is the rest of the city.

In a twist of irony, Andrew was the worst, having shot 2 hostages, determining therefore that he would not be the one on the roof top clearing the path for the ground forces against the zombies. Kyle was then second worst, having only shot one hostage, admittedly not much better. Curiously, both Andrew and Kyle managed to hit the same hostage, in the same place, on different target sheets. I decided to redeem myself, though while I also did shoot a hostage, I managed to take down 3 hostage takers, therefore placing me with the sniper rifle duty on the rooftop.

With all this, we have determined a few things that will help us in the future. First, we all have our roles to play during the End of Days, Zombie edition. Second, we all need practice in all of the weapons, with the exception of Mr. Monkhouse. Third, while this is actually very unlikely to every occur, I think that this trip was an eye opener for a lot of people into different aspects about guns. As I said before, I’ve been shooting a lot in my life and I am not as concerned by the amount of guns that are out there in Canada. Statistics have shown that gun use is on the decline. I also believe that there is no problem in collecting information on who has what guns and how many. That’s just being responsible. Gun owners are asking for a large privilege in owning firearms and as such, have a responsibility to use them correctly and wisely.

What I do hope however, is that some people may decide that they should just go out and see what they are talking about. They might be surprised that when approached safely and professionally, gun use can be less harmful than they may have appreciated at first.

Also, zombies are scary.