I promised you a report on my weekend of experiences. That it’s taken me until Wednesday to get to it should give you a clue as to how busy it was.
Saturday I attended the 37th annual Boar’s Head and Yule Log Festival held by the First Christian Church in Corpus Christi. Capping the Christmas season and celebrating Epiphany, it’s an Old English retelling of the coming of the three kings meeting baby Jesus. Originally presented at Queens College in Oxford in 1340, it came to be a holiday tradition in English manor houses and later in colonial America. A Renaissance-era story, it depicts a medieval pageant. This was quite the spectacle and I cannot praise the organizers and actors enough. It would have been sufficient to enjoy it solely for the entertainment value. But I found myself thinking this was the type of exhibition that the lords and ladies of The Bewildering Adventure of King Bewilliam might have enjoyed. I’ll be keeping the sight, sound, and pacing in mind should the Muse want to revisit the Chalklands.
Sunday I attended a day-long class to qualify for a Texas License to Carry a concealed handgun. The class began with a four-hour presentation on the various laws governing the licensing and the responsibilities of license holders. Students had to pay attention because a written test followed. I aced it although there was one question that I thought was badly worded. Throughout my career, I’ve written a lot of test questions so I felt justified in criticizing but others shared my opinion.
Then we all drove out in the country to the Corpus Christi Pistol and Rifle Club range for the shooting part of the qualification. Applicants must show that they know how to carry a handgun safely, arm it, and ready it to fire. The targets were cardboard slabs mounted on a stand. A green silhouette of a roughly human form was marked with a bull’s eye and three concentric rings.
It’s been decades since I even held a handgun. I have vague recollections of going plinking with a friend and can’t recall if I managed to hit anything.
The instructor organized groups of three shooters at a time. Other than me, the students had handgun experience so the instructor asked me to go last. I spent the time observing and even helped one student load her magazine (“Do NOT call it a clip!” said the instructor) which was part of the test.
It was late in the day by the time we got around to me. The sun was sinking and I worried about being able to see the target much less aim accurately. I was also concerned because though I had recently purchased glasses with distance correction I had yet to receive them. Still, I knew that I’d only stew about it and I didn’t want to put the test off for another day. I figured that even if I blew it, I could try again. The state allows for three chances to pass the shooting test.
The instructor lent safety gear. License applicants must show that they have consideration for their personal safety. Though it was an outdoor range it was still a noisy place. Shooters need hearing protection (earmuffs or plugs). Eye protection in the form of safety goggles or glasses is also a necessity, especially with brass casings flying through the air like bees swarming.
Not only did I not have experience or my own safety gear I also didn’t have a handgun. I had worried that I would find the firearm heavy and awkward to handle. The instructor lent me a Ruger .22 and I had absolutely no problem with it. The “red-dot sight” with which it was equipped made aiming easy. I anticipated recoil of which I had read so much but because .22 is a fairly small caliber, this handgun didn’t present any that I noticed. I did observe another phenomenon of which I had read: muzzle flash.
So, how did I do on the test?
The shooting test requires 50 rounds of ammunition fired at three distances:
- 3 yards – 20 rounds fired
- 7 yards – 20 rounds fired
- 15 yards – 10 rounds fired
It’s a timed test. The Texas LTC shooting test passing score is 175 points out of 250 points or a score of 70%.
I scored 243.
The day-long class was conducted by Michael McKinley of CCIT. Enthusiastic about handgun operation and safe shooting practices, he was knowledgeable about the subject and patient with a rank beginner. That I passed is a testament to his skills as an instructor.
He did charge us with evaluating our preparedness to shoot someone, especially in a crisis situation. It’s an important consideration but it wasn’t why I applied for the license or took the class. I write a lot of crime fiction and simply need to know more about firearms.
Monday I answered a summons for jury duty. Different states handle this in different ways. Here in Nueces County, citizens report to the Central Jury room and wait, sometimes for hours, sometimes all day, for the court personnel to sort potential jurors into groups. The groups are then assigned to pending cases. Jury candidates might proceed immediately to a courtroom or be instructed to return at a future date at which point attorneys will select jurors from the pool of candidates.
OK, “ridiculous” is a little harsh but it can be tedious. I get summoned at least every other year and occasionally more often so I’ve been through the drill many times. To make some use of the waiting time I bring a book to read or one of my works-in-progress to write. And at least one occasion has provided material to put in my Story Ideas file.
So there you have it. Three experience-packed days all of which yielded grist for the story mill. Now all that’s left is the writing.