People often ask me what I do for research. Well, here’s one example. I have never shot a gun in my life, except for a BB gun at camp when I was a little girl. The idea of them frightens me to death, actually. But I recently started work on a new novel whose main character is an expert markswoman, and I realized that if I was going to convincingly talk about shooting, I needed to try it, at least once or twice. So below are a few pictures that follow my first gun lesson, step by step. I went with my friend, the wonderful writer Sarah Manguso (if you have not read her memoir, The Two Kinds of Decay–you must put it on your wish list–it’s one of the best books I’ve read in years). In the end, here’s how things ranked up:
Gun: .22 Caliber Rifle
Bullet Type: Lead Round Nose
Bullet Weight: 40 grains
Dangerous: within 1 1/2 miles (that’s how far it would go in open air)
Distance: 50 feet
Win Hannah’s Target: The first person to comment below with the correct page number of The Good Thief where a gun first appears will receive a signed paper target (with bullseye) from this lesson.