Exhilarating and terrifying.

Exhilarating because once you know how to fire one accurately, you immediately feel more badass–you can better take care of yourself and the ones you love. Suddenly some of the scarier scenarios in the nooks and crannies of your brain don’t seem as bad anymore because you have lethal force in your hands to take care of an attacker.

Terrifying because you have lethal force in your hands. I first shot a gun when training for a concealed handgun license, and it definitely freaked me out that I was firing something that could kill someone. Sure, if it’s me or an assailant, I’d much rather the latter go down than the former, but the fact that the paper target had a silhouette of a human with the center drawn squarely where the heart would be definitely made me think it’s too easy to rely on guns as the first response to anything–and that’s when accidents happen.