Last weekend, I visited my cousin Kevin at the University of Iowa to sit on his Ph. D defense. For the past five years, he’s been working in pharmaceutical chemistry figuring out how to create vaccines that can be delivered directly to human genes. I’m no chemist, so the bulk of his talk was way over my head, but it was very cool to see his command of the material and how well he presented. When he came back from the private portion of his defense, we knew he’d succeeded.
After a celebratory lunch, Kevin took his brother Richard, sister Michelle, and me to a firing range to shoot. By firing range, I don’t mean some shiny building with paper targets on motorized tracks. We drove about an hour from Iowa City to a fenced-in area outdoors with some metal stands and a big pit. You bring your own guns, ammo, and targets. When other people are around, you have to signal them that you’re going to put targets out so they stop shooting. We turned our fire on some empty steel solvent containers with four different weapons: a Ruger pistol (.22 LR ammunition), a Ruger rifle, a Springfield 1911 (.45 ammunition), and an M1 Garand (7.62mm rounds). After spending a couple hours shooting, I will never look at Hollywood shoot-em-ups the same way again. Movies seem totally fake compared with the noise and recoil of large-caliber weapons. We had fun, and we turned out to be half-decent shots (for rookies).