Mustang Challenge | American Status Reached in Columbus

Columbus, Ohio a city known for its gorgeous park systems, thriving metropolitan areas, its world class zoo and of course home to THE  Ohio State Buckeyes. Yet as our penultimate destination we choose not to focus on the aforementioned attractions, rather we were persistent in completing the final task to “Americanize” us, which was to shoot guns.

[You’re reading part of the Mustang Challenge series, a loosely bound concept that was created to inspire others to get out and explore the country in their cars. In this Mustang Challenge, two Canadians are touring the USA for the first time, traveling for 26 days through 13 different US cities while traversing over 8,000 miles behind the wheel of a 2016 Mustang GT. This is one post in a series of many. To read the previous articles and to follow the series, jump to the bottom of this page.]

Canada has very restrictive guns laws making handguns and/or semi-automatic pistols near impossible to own. Hunting rifles are easier to access but as a couple of city slickers, there is no real need for us to own them. Seeing as we were in the country known for its right to bear arms, we thought why the hell not. We figured we’d out try out the second amendment for ourselves- time to bust out our inner Rambo!

Look at that dirty dirty hood…

We got into Columbus at around 7 pm, and after a quick search we arrived at our destination, Vance Outdoors. This place was massive and filled with everything firearm related in addition to a surprising other array of deadly weapons – essentially we were in the equivalent of King Richard’s armory – just updated to feature modern weapons.

We clearly looked just as clueless as we felt because we were approached immediately by Kyle an employee working the rental desk. He noticed we were pretty much rookies with anything gun related so he showed us the ropes. Stuff like loading the magazine, holding the pistol and aiming were all covered. We left the choice of guns up to Kyle, as again, we had no clue. If I recall, I believe he selected a couple of 9mils for us to start off with.

These are guns. What kind? We don’t know. Ones that shoot bullets.

After getting the necessary safety and operation low down from Kyle we headed to our shooting lane. The first thing that greeted us were the sounds of other individuals firing their weapon. Having never held or fired one before, the sound startled us. Honestly it’s way louder than we ever expected. The guy in the next lane over was clearly practicing for armeggedon, as each time he pulled the trigger, the resulting sound made Connor jump – and that is even with the ear protection on.

The first two pistols we used were a Glock 9mm and a Ruger 9mm, both equally impressive.  Then we needed to pick out our targets and we both decided for the old school cut out. You know the one where the outline is all black and it’s center chest is a red oval with a small X. It was the perfect target for two bumbling Canadians with zero gun experience. Having been shown to our lanes we set the targets to 20 feet and prepared to shoot. After shooting off multiple rounds to varying success we decided to switch it up and get some bigger weapons. I tried to get us a magnum revolver but it was in vain, as they refused. That pistol is reserved for the rifle range which at the time was down for maintenance. Kyle exchanged our 9mms for a couple of 45’s. I can’t seem to remember their names but they certainly had more kick.

BOOM, headshot!

Now the hardest part of the whole experience was loading the damn magazine, bullets were slipping all over the place, but once in place we were akin Bruce Willis in Die Hard, shooting everything in sight.  We blasted away, trying our best to hit the X, of which we managed to strike a few times. This occurred because we had differing opinions on the best way to fire a weapon. Connor has a more cerebral approach to shooting which he credits getting from Tom Clancy novels. Something along the lines of controlling your breathing, like controlling your breathing when actually firing and never pulling the trigger, it has to be gently squeezed. He got all metaphorical on me, like he is the Yoda of the shooting ranges, spreading his pistol wisdom. I, on the other hand, chose a more reckless approach. My philosophy centered on getting rid of the bullets in the quickest time possible. If it’s good enough for Hollywood movies then it’s good enough for me.

Connor’s noob stance. He drives better than he shoots.

The single drawback was that we arrived late to the range so our lanes were shut off when we still had half our bullets remaining. At first Connor wanted to keep them and bring them home. That would have been cool, except we would have been arrested at the border, something I’d like to avoid. Instead, we opted to gift them to Kyle as a token of our appreciation for his help. We entered as toddlers, knowing we wanted to shoot some guns, but literally had no idea on how to do so. Before we even got our hands on any of the pistols, Kyle had already told us that he wouldn’t charge us for the rentals – just for the lane time and ammunition. That was awfully nice of him!

Thus the deal was complete,  in return for ammo, Kyle charged us the most minimal amount possible. Suffice to say we really needed that, as Columbus was our second to last stop any bargain we could find was a blessing to our savings. We were way past our projected budget by the time we left San Francisco…

However the best part of the shooting range bar none  was the beef jerky. As we waited in the checkout line we found bags of beef jerky (20oz bags) for 10 bucks, greatest deal my eyes had ever seen. Definitely one of the best parts of trip, except for the indigestion we experienced the next day, that definitely sucked…a lot.

Follow The Series

Be sure to check back to the blog on Tuesdays and Fridays for updates. You can also follow Connor and Alex on their adventure by checking in on Twitter and Instagram @MustangMounties



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