Some may be surprised at this, others, not at all, but I’m convinced in a previous life I was a sharp-shooting saloon owner in the Wild West.

A gun-toting madam, keeping an eye on tables of gambling clientele, who, in turn, were keeping an eye on my ‘nymphs du prairie’. No doubt this saloon was extremely classy, as I have a naturally classy nature.

I had to put this fancy to the test by trying it out (not running a saloon, whipping out the hardware), to see if I am in fact the calibre of marksman I’ve always felt I was. So I rang around and discovered who I needed to get in touch with to prove it to myself! I wish I’d thought to arrive dressed as Annie Oakley, but opening the door and finding myself faced with half a dozen uniformed men of the law certainly left me feeling relieved I hadn’t! Fortunately they weren’t there to arrest me – Outlaw Annie – just to train for the morning.

Donning safety glasses and ear muffs, I tried to absorb the safety instructions, unease creeping up on me as I realised just how important it was to pay attention, considering a minor slip could mean a fatality!

The targets were set out and I found myself loading a magazine for a Browning .22 semi-automatic, trying to act a lot more tough than I was feeling!

I stood with my arms jutting out in front of me, the words “Always thirty degrees, never deviate” in my head. I took aim… BANG!!!

What a feeling! Unexpectedly powerful. I immediately turned competitive, desperate to hit inside the black circle – the kill zone. I’m happy to report I succeeded more than once!

The Browning was a good one to start out with, reasonably light and easy to use with a kick that’s minimal. In short: the .22 made me feel like “The Boss’.

Next up: Smith and Wesson .44 Magnum, my favourite, aesthetically speaking. Looks are everything when you’re a classy madam, right?

This one was much heavier with a cylinder to load, it made a much louder sound and much bigger holes. I could see myself protecting my saloon with a couple of these puppies dangling over my crinoline. Call me Dirty Harriet, and to be honest, I was feeling lucky.

Fortunately I had been warned about potential burns from flying shells, so when I felt searing pain down my cleavage I kept the gun within the 30 degree danger zone, and tried not to yell and rip my top off!

Blisters formed immediately, but I was easily distracted by the beauty of the next offering. A model Remington 1858 percussion revolver. It was lovely. I’m fairly sure the range officer purposely refrained from warning me about the miniature fireworks about to explode out of this sleek and shiny revolver or the inhalation of smoke or the ruffled state I was to be left in after every shot. Admittedly, the effort involved in loading black powder meant that I only shot it three times but that was certainly enough for me! I like a big bang but not when there’s actual danger involved.

Finally, I was presented with a hand gun that looked like something out of a film ( a mere novice’s observation), but was in fact a SiG 226 pistol. This gun seemed to lack the romance of the others, at least the Magnum and the Remington anyway, and I found myself wanting to once again try a round from the Smith and Wesson, my definite favourite of them all.

I could have stayed all day, but after kissing my favourite goodbye, I was ushered outside carrying a much lighter ammo bag and much wider grin. My skirts swished and my boots kicked up dust as I untied my horse from the hitching post.

That was a first time for me – in this life at least – but absolutely not the last.

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