USF junior Jessica Sturges stood calm and ready, nine feet away from a paper target, holding a Glock 9mm. It was one of three guns she’d ever held in her life, all in the last two hours.
She squeezed the trigger slowly, and screamed with excitement when the gun recoiled.”It was so powerful,” Sturges said. “It vibrated through my entire body.”Sturges was one of 11 women who gathered at the Indoor Shooting Gallery on Friday for a basic handgun instruction course sponsored by Necessary Improvements to Transform our Environment (N.I.T.E.), a USF group that advocates for student safety. “I was always intrigued to learn how to shoot since my dad was the captain of a correctional facility.” Said Sturges.
Throughout the semester N.I.T.E. has been thinking of different ways of promoting safety for students. The idea for going to a gun range has been in the planning stages for a long time.
“I’ve been wanting to do this since the beginning of the semester,” said Carissa Caricato, President of N.I.T.E.
With the evening being split into two parts, firearms instructor, Harry Nolan began by taking the group into small classroom and going over gun safety rules. The lecture involved the three main rules for gun safety:
1. Always keep the gun pointed in a safe direction.2. Always keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot.3. Always keep the gun unloaded until ready to use.
Nolan mentioned that many people who are in accidents involving guns don’t follow these rules.
While some had never held a gun before, others had more experience. Caricato has been going to the gun range with her parents since the age of twelve and Joshua Julmiste, a sophomore study Criminology even brought his own handgun, a 45 ACP Hi-point.
Ashley Scott, a nursing student and member of Pride Alliance has a mother that is a sharpshooter.
” I want to live up to my genes,” joked Scott.
Nolan expressed that even if a person has years of experience handling guns, the number one safety precaution was, “the grey stuff between your ears.”
As the lecture came to an end, everyone was anxious to begin the more popular portion of the evening.
After putting on eye and ear protection, the group walked into the air-conditioned shooting range where three semi-automatic handguns and two revolvers awaited them. After firearms instructors Christy Epps and Nicole Larrabee instructed the group on the proper way to load the weapons, laughter and clapping began to spread as shots were fired with bullets hitting their targets.
Everyone was given the chance to fire both types of firearms into paper targets they could take home.
The event left everyone excited and looking forward to coming back.
“It was incredibly relaxing. I’m amazed at how much shooting required me to focus.” said Gretchen Garcia, a Junior in Women’s Studies.
N.I.T.E plans to make this a monthly trip starting next semester and hopes more members will participate.
“I thought it would be good to show another form of protection.” Said Caricato.