“O-boy check the place out,” Chuks exclaimed.
“It’s as if they have all the guns in the world inside here,” Segun said, admiring the hall at the shooting range.
When they arrived, they had seen many people waiting in the reception, both men and women, in a place that was more a hall than a room, with showcases taller than a person standing on two legs. After their registration and other details had been confirmed, all of them— almost twenty-five by Chuks’ rough count —had been led farther into the hall. A man had presented a young lady he said was going to be their teacher.
“Good day ladies and gentlemen,” he’d said. The man had worn a long-sleeved white shirt on blue trousers that had a camouflage pattern like those that soldiers had on their uniforms, with boots that seemed to be twin to the same kind that military men wore. The man even had a military-like bearing, and the clothes themselves seemed to be a kind of uniform, because he had seen men and women walk into the building wearing the exact same thing.
“This is Instructor Maryanne Okolo, who will be teaching your class. She is a very good instructor, so feel free to ask her any questions, okay?”
“Yes sir,” they chorused.
The young woman who was going to be their teacher, at least, didn’t wear an army uniform look-alike. She looked to be about twenty-six, twenty-seven, and wore a pair of recommended glasses. She held a white tablet in one hand. She looked like someone in maybe three-hundred, four-hundred level that taught in a secondary school and not at all like she worked in a shooting range. Chuks had to wonder how she would manage to teach a class of almost thirty adults, most of whom were her age or older.
When she talked, she revealed a set of straight, perfectly white teeth.
“Okay guys, welcome to Star Ranges Nigeria. As Instructor Makinde said, I will be your class instructor, and I hope we— ”
The teacher’s voice was cut off by a loud crack.Everyone turned back to look at a wide corridor just opposite the entrance to the hall where the sound seemed to have come from. Chuks had heard something like that before. Was that gunfire?
The startling realization had only just hit him before more gunfire erupted, a steady stream of it, like multiple bangers going off at once. Everybody ran away from it, both of them included. Gunfire? Were these people mad?
“Everyone, come back, please,” Maryanne said calmly. “This is a firing range. That means we have guns.” Well, that bit was true, Chuks acknowledged from where he stood among the rest at what seemed like a safe distance. “You should have known before you enrolled. But there are also safety protocols, so everybody please come back.” She was beginning to sound annoyed.
They all came back to where she stood, but only because the shooting had stopped.
“The instruction for new Buttercup enrolees is that we take a tour of the guns in here,” she continued, as if there hadn’t been shooting just few seconds ago. “If you’ll all please come this way, we shall start.”
She led them down into a row of the tall glass showcases, and Chuks saw that they were filled with guns. The showcases lined the left side and the right side of the hall with a wide walkway in-between, and all of them held weapons of one kind or the other.
Visit www.pobsonline.com for more amazing stories
“Let’s start with the oldest kind of weapons we have in here, shotguns. A shotgun is one step above the dane gun many of you might know. In the shotgun category we have the Mossberg 500 pump shotgun. It is called “pump” because of the way the shotgun works. Please bring it out for me.”
The person she had spoken to was a guy in something that looked like a LAWMA janitor’s jumpsuit, with the difference that it was grey in colour instead of orange, and on the breast had STAR RANGES written under some kind of blue circle logo.
The guy slid back a wide slot in the glass and brought out the weapon. Those closest to the teacher moved backward unconsciously as he did, obviously afraid of the the gun. Chuks and his friend did as well. No be like say I dey fear, but. . . He wasn’t about to get himself shot in the name of coming to a firing range.
Maryanne smiled when she saw their reaction, once again flashing those perfect white teeth. She deftly took the weapon from the guy in the janitor’s uniform.
“There’s nothing for you to be afraid of. This is a unloaded weapon. Now, let’s imagine you want to shoot something.”
She aimed the gun at a girl at the front and pulled the trigger. The girl actually jumped and ran away from the group. Some people laughed nervously. Chukwudi wasn’t part of those people. Adrenaline was surging through his veins. Segun looked at him, a look of alarm on his face. He too had thought their teacher had actually shot that girl.
“Why are you running away? Come back, now, I told you it’s not loaded.” The girl really looked scared, holding a hand tight to her chest as if her heart was about to fall out. “Sorry for scaring you. What’s your name?”
“Keziah,” she said, eyeing the weapon in fear and edging away from it.
“I’m sorry I scared you, Keziah.” At least she seemed to mean it. Keziah nodded, not taking her eyes off the heavy black gun for one second. “When I said it was unloaded, I meant there’s no round inside it. It cannot do anything to you. “But just imagine you have fired it. Can you do that?” All of them nodded eagerly. “Okay. So once you have fired it, you just do it like this.”
The shotgun had two barrels, one on top of the other. It was the second one that she held, sliding it back to reveal a small hole, then sliding it forward again. The metallic cha-cha it made was exactly as it was in the action films he had seen.
“That is called “reloading”. You have to do it each time you fire. If you hate manual reloading, then you’ll love the Atchisson Assault shotgun also known as AA-12, a fully automated shotgun with 5-round boxmagazine, 20-round drummagazine, gas-operated automatic fire and a cyclic rate of fire at 360 rounds per minute, or RPM,” she said, pointing up at another shotgun up near the top of the showcase. He could literally see the minds of those closest to him spinning.
The entire showcase seemed to be filled with different variations of the same kind of gun.
“Trust me, you need to see it in action. Now, don’t look confused, you’ll be trained on how to use it in due course. This is just a tour.
“Over here we have the rifle section so everyone move over, please.”
She handed the shotgun back to the janitor, then turned and walked on to the next showcase. The rest of them followed.