I am 31 years old this year and, aside from one unsuccessful, harrowing attempt to get me to shoot in 2010, I had never even held a gun. I grew up in Austin, but did not grow up in the gun or hunting culture.
photo by Esther Robards-Forbes
Through the years I had developed a fear of guns, bullets, and those who possessed them. I thought an accident was only moments away, and whenever a hunter friend would clean his guns, I would repeatedly ask him to make sure it wasn’t loaded. I didn’t know what to look for. I didn’t know how to check. The unknowns made me afraid. My other half of 5 years, Tommie, had grown up with and was comfortable with guns. He tried to help me get over my fear, but I kept procrastinating. He purchased a CHL class for the two of us as a Valentine’s gift, so I knew I had to get over this. We went and purchased a small 9mm Beretta nano for me as further incentive to overcome my fear.
Finally, one day I was at Red’s Indoor Range’s website and was looking for any information on beginner gun classes or the like to get me started and get some practice in before the CHL class. I found a listing for a women’s pistol group there called the Sure Shots that practiced at Red’s every week. Out of pure coincidence, I found that listing on the day they would have practice at the Red’s near me, the north location. Before I had a chance to psych myself out of going, I was making plans to head over after work.
I showed up around 6:30, clutching my Beretta’s hard case and my ear protection. I didn’t know who to talk to or what to look for, but there was a very obvious swath of pink that I gravitated toward. “Are you here for the Sure Shots?” I nodded and could barely talk, I was so nervous. I eventually relaxed when the mandatory first-time Sure Shots Safety Brief started, jokingly referred to as "an 8 hour beginner’s gun class in 8 minutes".
Eventually I got my courage up and went up to a lane. From some basic gun anatomy Tommie had gone over with me and some basic fundamentals of firearms in the Safety Brief, I loaded up a magazine and tried to remember what was said about good stance. I fired a few times and tried to get a decent comfort level with the kick of the gun. Each boom of a gun from neighboring lanes made me jump. My own gun’s shots made me jump. Sure Shots founder Niki came over and offered some pointers that immediately improved my accuracy and helped me to work through the noise and internal fears. I went through nine rounds and my hands were beginning to shake a little so I decided to stop for the night. While this may seem like very few rounds,
Spotlight on a Sure Shot
This issue's Spotlight is on Sure Shot Krystal Hess!
Krystal Hess of Ricochet Customs is not your typical gear head. Growing up there were posters all over her walls: movie stars, and fast cars. Way more time spent getting dirty than playing with dolls and a penchant for Transformers, Atari, and all types of super cars. Yes, we all have that friend Krystal that we called when we wanted a stylish ride to 7-11. The chameleon paint, the neon lights and rims, and of course the bumping stereo...it was the 90's.
In 2011 Krystal left her nursing career in Canada for love, a boy captured the gears in her heart. He was into motorcycles, an avenue she hadn't yet explored. In 2012 tragedy struck their blissful life and Krystal found herself alone with a motorcycle business, and Ricochet Customs was born.
With Krystal's unsurpassed strength and determination, acute eye for the details and sense of style that is unmatched, she’s getting a lot of attention for building squarely kick-ass bikes. Literally taking customization from 0 to 200, Krystal started off with a one-of-a-kind and modded 375hp turbocharged Suzuki Hayabusa. And this bike was no lego kit; her concept, modification, final assembly and ultimately cosmetics didn't just put Ricochet on the map, she became the focus point on the radar. With 8 bike builds under her belt and her ability to meticulously powder coat, Krystal has turned countless stock motorcycles into fresh pieces of art.
Krystal is full of passion, compassion and hope for the future. No matter how many motorcycles she works on, she will always have a great desire to nurse those that crash them. Her most recent nursing stint came in May of 2013 where she spent five weeks in Honduras nursing the locals back to health. You will even find her in nursing scrubs around Austin on occasion. Krystal has been described by her peers as having a heart "full of torque", and we agree, its full and running on all cylinders.
In late July, over 30 Sure Shots participated in a half-day archery clinic in Buda, TX. They got to shoot both recurve and compound bows, and the favorite was pretty much split down the middle! They got to shoot indoors and outdoors, and needless to say, the ladies of the Sure Shots ROCKED it!
Niki and a few Sure Shots members validated my decision by explaining that if you know you’re done for the time being, it is good to recognize and respect that. I then believed with each practice I would be able to achieve more if I wanted. This was a very pivotal moment for me, as it could have just as easily turned into self-deprecation for how little I had accomplished or unnecessary pushing to go further by myself or others, and in retrospect I am grateful for how that moment turned out.
After I walked out of the range area, I met and chatted with some other Sure Shots for a bit. This fantastic group of ladies was every bit as welcoming and engaging to me as if I had been there since the start, in spite of the wildly diverse backgrounds and varied circumstances this group had come from. The classroom portion of the night was engaging and interactive—this particular class was about securing your guns in your home. I even asked a couple questions and never once felt like I was the new girl asking silly questions.
This was in March. Fast forward to August. I have since taken and passed my CHL class. I have shot with the Sure Shots several times and gone to other ranges with my boyfriend or friends a few other times. I’m now fully aware that, with regards to guns, I am capable and fearless, and that is a beautiful thing.
Send us your pics! Check out these Honorary Sure Shots from all around the country!