By MICHELLE SCHMIDT
But why choose between the two when you can have both?
It’s not the romantic date night setting you see in many movies. Or maybe any movies. But just because Hollywood doesn’t know about it, doesn’t mean shooting ranges are devoid of romance.
And the trend isn’t just local. There’s been a nationwide rise in business and activity for shooting ranges, according to National Public Radio, who suggests they are becoming the new bowling alleys.
Swap out ugly shoes for firearms, and buttoned shirts for T-shirts emblazoned with “Bullets Make Me Happy” and the Diamondback Shooting Range in Lewiston fits the comparison. With various leagues, a display case of rental guns and four target lanes, the likeness is uncanny.
But since when did taking your romantic interest out to shoot guns become a good idea? Local couples tell their stories of love and guns:
Love Story No. 1: Fun on the Range
It’s Thursday night at Diamondback, Target League night. And date night for several local couples who prefer dinner-and-a-shooting to dinner-and-a-movie.
“It’s a lot of fun,” says Dianna Collins. “It surprised me how much fun it was, actually.”
Guns are nothing new to Dianna or her husband, Nathan, of Lewiston. But shooting together is. Dianna rarely joined her husband at area public outdoor ranges, but the convenience, safety and relative low cost of the local indoor range has turned “his thing” into “our thing.”
“It’s different than going to a movie together,” adds Nathan. “At a movie you don’t ever interact, but here we’re actually doing something.”
And they have the well-shot targets to show for it. For this gentle elementary school teacher and sweet-natured nurse, guns and love have been a good match.
Love Story No. 2: Firearm First-Timers
Had she been from the area, had she come from a gun family, she would have known not to wear 4-inch heels on a date night to the shooting range.
But she wasn’t. So she did.
Heather Smith and her husband, Paul, are transplants to Lewiston. So when out-of-town family visited a while back, a double date to the shooting range sounded like a unique local opportunity.
The four newbies took a one-hour instructional class on basic gun use and safety, followed by an hour of shooting.
“As a couple, anytime you can learn, take a class together, it is cool,” says Paul.
Besides the practical skill of learning how to use a gun safely — and for Heather, how to hold her own in heels — the couple also learned how welcomed and accepted they were, even as obvious beginners, by the gun pros down at the range. It’s one scenario where guns bring people together.
Love Story No. 3: Practically Romantic
It was early on in their dating relationship that RJ Johnson took his then-girlfriend, Valerie, to the shooting range in Texas where they both lived at the time. It must have worked out: the couple are now married and living in Lewiston.
“I knew she was from Idaho, so I figured she’d be OK,” says RJ, laughing.
He’d been to the shooting range regularly with his buddies, so taking his date there seemed like a good idea.
“If you’re going to have guns in the house, it’s important that you know how to operate them safely,” he says.
“You make it sound so romantic,” laughs his wife.
But it turns out even practicality has a fun side: she talks about him helping her, the casing hitting the floor, the adrenaline pumping.
While shooting is a little more serious than bowling, it may be more practical and certainly just as romantic.
Love Story No. 4: From the Range into Reality
When shooting is a shared hobby, the romance of the range follows a couple into everyday life.
“It’s competitive, but in a good way,” says Teresa Adams, of Lewiston.
She describes how often, when she’s practicing without her husband, Wayne, she’ll text him a picture of a well-shot target.
“Yeah, she’s surpassed me on rimfire,” says Wayne.
“And he’s so sweet, he goes and brags about that to his friends,” says Teresa.
“Yeah, but she doesn’t beat me on centerfire,” he responds, looking over at her, both smiling.
And the relational bond extends from competition to protection. Several months ago, Wayne is proud to have defended his wife, shooting a pit bull that he says charged his wife and dog. If not for his well-honed shooting skills, he claims the dog would’ve landed his wife in the hospital and his dog buried in the ground.
Opinions aside, there’s no denying the shared interest — and events resulting from it — have drawn the couple closer.
Schmidt can be contacted at email@example.com or (208) 798-8289.
Tips for Firearm First-Timers
The shooting range isn’t just for gun nuts. Whether you are interested in a one-time date or developing a skill, here are some tips on getting started:
Take a class — If guns are not your thing — and even if they are — taking a class together is a good idea. You’ll learn about basic safety, how to hold and aim a gun. Information about safety classes and individual instruction is available at most ranges and gun clubs.
Buy in 100 percent — Even in these parts, there are a few who aren’t comfortable with — or just plain shouldn’t — shoot guns.
Pair it with a meal — There are several restaurants near Diamondback to enjoy. If you’re headed to an outdoor range, bring a picnic to share after shooting. Just leave the alcohol until after the guns are put away.
Start small — If you’re not used to the recoil, or kick, start with a smaller gun. As an added bonus, you’ll be more likely to hit a target.