Monday, July 16, 2012

Gun Crazy

Ah, if only all life's problems could be solved with a bullet!

Only a moron thinks that, of course, or a mad-dog killer. It's true on the battlefield, maybe, nowhere else. But if so, I could solve them more easily now.

I just completed a five-day course in tactical pistol use. This was way beyond shooting at targets -- we were running around, using cover, firing from all kinds of positions, and even doing combative drills like hitting a heavy bag for thirty seconds and then backing off and shooting it.

We did "simmunition" training too -- like paintball -- and there I learned, in facing off against a Marine with combat experience, that it doesn't much matter about training and experience, if you have two guys in a narrow alley shooting at each other, they're both probably going to end up with holes in them. (To that end, we got a brief lesson on dealing with traumatic injuries, also -- how to apply a torniquet and pressure bandage, mainly.)

So I'm covered with bruises and my hands are cramped and cut up, but it was a really intense and interesting experience.

On the downside, I see that shooting is a tremendously expensive hobby, probably even more expensive than running around nightclubs. But hey, at least you won't catch herpes, and it could conceivably save your life in the worst-case scenario of waking up with a thrill-killing meth addict in your living room.

Since guns are somewhat off-topic in this blog, let me talk a little about this in the context of teaching.

Learner Based Activities

The instructors were all former army and police -- guys with big personalities and a lot of experience -- so they were pretty good at having teaching presence. They could perhaps have elicited a bit more, but they did, some, where possible. There wasn't much theory in this particular course anyway. Such pairwork as was possible to do in the context of physical practice with handguns, we did. And we spent most of the time shooting, not listening, so we're definitely talking learner-based activities here.

I recognized in the instructors that desire to walk the fine line -- to be friendly and approachable and yet not to be so friendly that your students start bugging you about personal stuff.

It seemed like most of the students were fairly intimidated by the instructors and the subject manner though, so they certainly didn't ask prying questions. In this case being "native speakers" means they used handguns in combat situations, and obviously that's not going to lead to students bothering the teacher about why he's not married.

I suppose in this case the equivalent would be "how many times have you shot at somebody?" and fortunately nobody asked that.


I'm still hacking away at Vodkaberg -- trimming the fat, clarifying the ambiguous, realigning the crooked -- but it's very, very close to being finished. It'll need another editing and then it'll be ready -- maybe a couple more weeks.

It's about 115,000 words, more than twice as long as my other books, and like any good Russian novel covers a long period of time and has tons of characters. It will be controversial, probably, and it's dark and complex, but I feel like it's actually a much more evocative and accurate portrait of my time abroad than my last memoir.
(By the way, TO TRAVEL HOPELESSLY, about my first five years of teaching, is still available for FREE on Smashwords and Amazon.)
Get it here on Smashwords

Get it here on Amazon


John from Daejeon said...

I realized that it was an expensive hobby a long time ago, so I have a couple of .22 S&W pistols to do most of my plinking with as the ammo is much cheaper than what my .40s take, but luckily Walmart still sells ammo as does ""

But you do have to be a millionaire to afford .50 cal weapondry and ammo.

English Teacher X said...

Stuff like holsters, belts, extra mags, and all the other gee-gaws adds up, also.

Tim said...

.22 ammo is dirt cheap, and 9mm a little less so. Even so, it's still a lot more costly than it was around 4 years ago, thanks to the ammo industry's manic fear of Obama.

brian said...

Can't wait for the new book. Really looking forward to your opus.

Anonymous said...

I don't get the whole gun thing. WTF? I have no problem with the 2nd amendment stuff, but if Zimmerman has taught Amerikans anything - its that firearms and humans are a bad combo - and REALLY expensive (he will beat the rap but be wiped out doing so). If you NEED one, you're in the wrong place. If you're in the wrong place and choose to stay and engage - then your stupid. I got my gun thing out of my system living in Alaska. Other than dancing with a surprised Mr. Bear, no good comes from a weapon. Don't tell me that you're into firearms for "entertainment". Thats what pussy is for.

Anonymous AW

English Teacher X said...

you're right -- but are you implying that pussy is neither expensive nor dangerous? See paragraph 6.

English Teacher X said...

And I got my pussy thing out of my system living in Russia for nine years.

Anonymous said...

No mi amigo. I would offer that pu*sy is both expensive and dangerous, but a lot more fun to play with than guns - at least for me. but what the hell do I know. As for "getting it out of your system" - head on over to the local Applebees and you can see a whole room of jumbo sized fellas who have also got it out of their system. I would add the "not taking it seriously" is different than "getting it out of ones system", if that makes any sense. Now I'm confused. I think I'll just stop here.

Tim said...

Zimmerman is a bad example. You're making the argument that just because one owns and uses a gun for recreational purposes, that you'll end up screwing up your life in one way or another.

Zimmerman seemed to go out looking for a fight. The vast majority of gun owners don't, otherwise we'd see a hell of a lot more of these cases grabbing headlines.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of "recreational shooting" - I wonder how the cost/benefit of a day at the range compares to a nice Moldovan hooker in Chisinau?

English Teacher X said...

Nice thing about shooting pistols, you just kill people, you don't knock them up.

English Teacher X said...

I said a couple of entries ago -- I thought this might be a suitably phallic hobby that it provides enough release to keep me on the straight and narrow until I see my girlfriend. Anyway, shooting guns is something you can't do in other countries, unless you're military or a private contactor. I

English Teacher X said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I think we have a winner. Take a firearms course so that you can safely shoot and kill the Moldovan hooker you just knocked up. Then, kill her pimp so that you can take over the business and use the shiny new Glock to keep them inline and keep the flatheads from stealing your new employees.