Before I came to Montana, I lived in a very populated city. You could not carry a concealed knife longer than 2.5 inches. You could not keep a shotgun in your backseat, even if you were coming back from hunting. You could not even ride two-up on your significant other’s motorcycle with the wind in your face to an outdoor shooting range and aim shakily at something as insignificant as paper plate targets.
However, you can do that in Yellowstone Country. Which is, quite frankly, awesome.
Though I grew up in a hunting family, I never went. Mostly because I hated being cold, but also because it rains a lot out east and more than I hated being cold, I hated being wet. (Bear in mind, Gore-Tex wasn’t as prevalent then as it is now and my parents layered me in cotton turtlenecks to keep me warm and dry.)
So, I went to ballet lessons, while other members of my family went hunting.
Fast forward to 2014, when my partner suggested a motorcycle ride on a warm spring day and, “Oh, hey, how about we stop by the range and shoot some guns if we have time?”
(He thought he was being sneaky. I knew better.)
“You can shoot. I’ll read a book,” I responded.
Which worked out fine, except for when we got there and he made me staple up our paper plate targets and then told me he wasn’t taking me back home until I shot three rounds out of his gun.
To which I had no argument, because not only did I not know how to ride a motorcycle by myself, I sort of wanted to put a picture of myself shooting a gun on Facebook, to show all those kids in high school how hard core I had turned out to be in my “old age.”
And so, that’s how I, at 29 years of age, and having never held a gun before in my life, ended up shooting 10 bullets consecutively into exactly the same paper plate.
(Okay, not really. I missed all of the targets. Which doesn’t bode well for my hunting career.)
But for all of you less concerned with how awesome of a shot I am, the Manhattan Wildlife Association runs the gun range in Logan, Montana. A membership is required and costs $35 for the year. After joining, you can bring your own registered firearms and shoot in any empty stall. They also offer a variety of firearm safety classes and hunter education courses (which are mandatory for new hunters).
And, if you spend a day at the range and need a bite to eat, stop by the Land of Magic just down the road. The burgers are just as awesome as the name.