So, I'm in this shooting club with a bunch of old German people.
This spring, I read this an article in Time Out Chicago about a shooting range in the DANK Haus, the German-American cultural center over in Lincoln Square. It sounded crazy and fun and I traded some emails with Shaun along the lines of "we should do this some time" but went no farther than that. But then a few months later, Steve sent an email to me and some other friends throwing down the challenge and setting a date. In the end, only Mark Geary and I showed up to join Steve at the DANK Haus (our friends Monte and Anne have more recently been joining us).
My first misapprehension that needed to be corrected was that I thought this was something like bowling, as in that you could just show up, pay a fee, shoot and leave. In fact, the Brandenberger Schützen Verein is a club, so you have to become a club member if you want to shoot repeatedly (they do let people try it out once, though, to see if it's for you). And there are certain club responsibilities—meetings that involve no shooting and so on. I have been, it's fairly safe to say, the worst club member this year, in terms of meeting those other responsibilities, and yet everyone is still pretty nice to me.
The guns we shoot with are just pellet guns, powered by compressed air or springs. Injuries are very rare—I managed to cut my face on a gun sight this year and no one could remember anyone else ever being hurt that way before—and are kept low by the club rule of "shoot first, then drink". But we do drink—it's a German club after all. The DANK Haus has three different bars in the building, but on Wednesday nights, when the ciub meets, the one in our meeting room/shooting range is the only one that's open, so in addition to club members we also have German language class students and other visitors drinking cheap German beer and partaking of the plentiful German snacks.
A few weeks ago we had one of our year-end events: the King and Queen shoot. A plywood eagle was mounted at the end of the range and everyone took turns shooting at the extremities of the eagle. We shot off the wings and then the claws (Steve was the winner of one of the claws). And then men shot at the head and women at the tail to determine who would be the King and Queen of the club for the next year. It's all very random, but good fun. I finally brought along a couple of cameras (including a film camera—I'm trying to clean out the crisper of all this old film I have) and shot a bunch of photos.