Follow along as we share our experiences as a family who said:
"Goodbye City...Hello Country!"
Join us in our adventures of Country Life in beautiful Grey County, Ontario.
LOOK FOR OUR MARCH EDITION IN YOUR MAILBOX IF YOU HAVE A FLESHERTON, MARKDALE, HEATHCOTE, KIMBERLEY, SINGHAMPTON, MAXWELL OR PRICEVILLE ADDRESS... OR PICK UP YOUR COPY AT SUSAN'S DELICATESSEN IN MARKDALE. WHILE YOU'RE THERE, CHECK OUT THEIR SELECTION OF GREY COUNTY & BEAVER VALLEY APPAREL CO. HOODIES!
As usual, life has been crazy and busy, and it’s been over a month since I have had a chance to sit down
and write this letter. As I mentioned last time, one of the guys at my new job, Tim, invited me to go to
the gun range with him, and just like taking the Firearms Safety Course, it was an eye-opener!
The range was located in a rural area north-west of the GTA. Tim had instructed me to call him when I
arrived, and as I pulled up to the locked gate at the end of the driveway, I understood why. He came
and let me in, and we drove past the security cameras and up to the clubhouse. We then went inside,
and he had me sign in and record my (brand new!) gun license information in their logbook. Tim
explained that they get periodically inspected by the Chief Firearms Officer. The Officer could show up
unannounced at any time, and if anyone on the range at the time was not signed in, it could mean the
end of his gun club.
After the quick sign-in procedure, Tim gave me a tour of this impressive facility. The club had around
100 acres of land, with lots of different areas set up for different types of activities. There was an
archery “action range”, where they had dozens of targets set up along a path through the forest, where
shooters would go from station to station and try to make shots from different angles and distances at
each station. They had a trap range – a traditional shotgun sport where the shooter tries to shoot clay
targets fired from a throwing mechanism, and they had 30-metre and 100-metre rifle ranges, which is
where Tim took me so we could try shooting his rifles.
Before we got to shooting though, Tim had to go through the extensive rules and safety procedures for
the range. The rifle range was set up with a firing line, benches in front of the firing line to shoot from,
and a flag system for communication with the other shooters on the range. There was also a rule that
there must be a designated Range Officer on duty at all times while the range was in use. This was not at
all like you and I shooting bottles with my Uncle’s .22 at the cottage. The flag system was a formalized
way to ensure that all shooters were following the same procedure. When we got there, Tim asked the
Range Officer to go to a red flag, thereby showing that the range was on a cease fire. The cease fire
command meant that the range was closed temporarily for shooting, and the rule was that all shooters
had to unload their firearms, open the actions on their guns, and were required to stay behind the
shooting line. Handling of firearms on a red flag was strictly prohibited and would result in expulsion
from the range if violated. Lastly, the Range Officer walked the line and made sure that everyone
complied with the cease fire rules and confirmed that we were safe to go beyond the firing line and
head down range to set up some targets. I was greatly relieved to know that someone was making sure
that we were safe when we stepped in front of the firing line.
Tim and I walked down range together. The range itself was essentially a valley, fully surrounded by 10
meter-high dirt berms. Just in front of the shooting benches, there were also “baffles” installed – these
were plate metal barriers hung just above the level of the benches. The baffles, combined with the
berms, ensured that no stray bullets could leave the range area. Tim also made sure to warn me not to
shoot the baffles – if the Chief Firearms Officer inspected the range and found evidence that a baffle had
been shot, the range would immediately be shut down, potentially for good. It was very clear that the club took safety extremely seriously, and Tim took great pride in telling me that shooting at a range in
Canada was among the safest sporting activities available, with next to no injuries recorded.
We set up our targets at 100 meters and walked back to the firing line. The Range Officer set the range
to a green flag, meaning the range was “hot”, and it was legal to shoot again. Tim carefully pulled his
.22 caliber rifle out of its case and made sure I knew that the ONLY direction that the gun was to ever be
pointed in was down range. At no time did he, nor anyone else on the range point their guns at
anything other than the targets that were set up, and the Range Officer kept a watchful eye on everyone
to ensure these procedures were being followed at all times. Tim had me set up behind his scoped rifle
and try “dry firing” his gun so that I could get a feel for the trigger and make sure I was comfortable
being behind the gun before actually shooting it. He then chambered one round. The .22lr caliber is a
small bullet. Maybe 3cms long, and the .22 in the name means that it is .22 of an inch in diameter.
Despite that diminutive size, at close range, the .22 can be lethal. Tim is a big proponent of the .22lr
round as a practice round, because it engrains all of the same skills and safety procedures as the larger
centrefire rounds, but with less expense and recoil. He started me with a single round to make sure that
I was following all of the best practices when it came to shooting. I am sad to say that I failed on that
first round, because the first thing I did as I set up was to put my finger on the trigger. Tim gently
corrected me, reminding me to keep my finger alongside the trigger guard until I was ready to actually
take the shot. I really hadn’t realized just how much thought and attention was required to shoot
safely! I was glad I had Tim as my mentor. I took my first shot through a scoped rifle – POP! Amazingly,
I actually hit the target! In the middle! Well, middle-ish. Ha!
Tim and I spent the next hour or so taking turns shooting the .22, with him showing me proper trigger
technique, how to use my breathing to keep the scope stable while zoomed in, and just generally getting
me comfortable behind the gun. By the end, I managed to get each of my groupings of ten rounds down
to around 2 – 3 inches. Not bad, but Tim showed his expertise, easily cutting groups of less than an inch
over and over again. Once Tim was comfortable with how I was handling the .22, he decided it was time
to move up to something a little bigger. He put away the .22lr rifle and switched over to his .22-250.
This is a caliber that has the same diameter of bullet, .22 of an inch, but packed into a MUCH larger
casing with a LOT more gun powder, and it turned out to be an altogether different experience. (For
reference, the .22lr rounds we were shooting were leaving the gun at around 1,200 feet per second,
while the .22-250 round is moving at more 3,800 feet per second – faster than the speed of sound!) Tim
set up behind the .22-250 and touched off the first round. BA-BOOM!!! The first round startled me with
its violence and the visceral concussion of the round that I could feel in my chest from three meters
away! Wow. I was shocked at how much of a difference there was between the two rounds. If the .22lr
was a lady finger firecracker, the .22-250 was a commercial grade firework going off – one of those ones
that is a small flash and gigantic boom. Tim expertly shot a sub one-inch 5-round group, and then it was
my turn. I set up behind the rifle, more than a little trepidatious about what it was going to be like to
shoot. Amazingly, even with my heart in my throat, I managed to again hit the target somewhere
approaching centre on my first shot, and although the bang was incredibly loud, even with hearing
protection on, there was surprisingly little recoil. We spent another half hour shooting the .22-250, and
I found myself totally consumed in what I was doing – strangely, it was actually relaxing and almost a
Zen-like experience because it required all of my attention, and I really enjoyed myself doing it.
Just as with the Firearms Safety Course, my first trip to the range was not at all what I had envisioned.
Going in, I was deeply concerned for my own safety, and my preconceived notions of what the range
would be like were completely wrong. Tim and I spent the better part of an afternoon shooting, and I
learned a ton. When the other shooters on the range found out that it was my first-time shooting, they
were all incredibly helpful and supportive, with more than a couple of them allowing me to try out their
guns, providing their advice, and just generally being good people and good role models for safe
shooting. What I thought was going to be the Wild West turned out to be a safe, fun, and ultimately
relaxing afternoon. Not at all what I thought it was going to be.
What was going on here Mike? This was now two significant experiences with the firearms community
that were totally different from what I thought they would be. My experiences with the Firearms Safety
Course and then with going to the range totally altered my view of what it meant to be a gun owner in
Canada. Where I thought I would find questionable and unsafe practices, I have only found sober,
reasonable people engaging in a fun, safe, even family-friendly activity. Have I been brainwashed by the
American media? I have seen so many YouTube videos of people doing incredibly dumb things on gun
ranges, and yet my personal experience was that it would be VERY difficult to act that way here. Have I
conflated what goes on in the U.S. with what happens here in Canada? I think maybe I have. It seems as
if my preconceived notions of this sport were way off, and it’s kind of thrown me for a loop. How could I
have been so wrong? How was my perception so far from reality? I’m not sure what the answer is
there, but I can tell you that my eyes have well and truly been opened. This isn’t a sport populated by
yahoos or gun-nut freaks. I met people at the range from all walks of life, who universally treated me
with kindness and respect, and who took their safety and the safety of those around them very
seriously. Yes, we had fun, but it was controlled and safe. Not at all what I was expecting.
Anyways, that’s all for now. Much love to the family. I will touch base again next month. Tim is pushing
me to take my Hunter Safety course, so maybe that will be my next adventure.
Talk to you soon!
Thanks for joining us.
We're a family who said: "Goodbye City... Hello Country!"
Follow along as we embark upon a new adventure - Country Life. Read about our experiences (good and bad) as we transition from big-city life and endeavour to live our Dream Life in the Country.
Like a lot of city folk, we grew more disenchanted with crowded, busy, fast-paced, big-city life. We had felt drawn to Country Life for years, having dreamt of wide open spaces, fresh air, and no people.
They say, 'Strike when the iron is hot'...so we did. We sold our home in the city and bought the farm!
They also say, 'Make hay while the sun shines'...which is something we're going to have to learn, along with a bunch of other things we don't yet know about!
OUR DREAM OF COUNTRY LIFE
A quiet, safe place to raise our kids. That's the dream of Country Life.
We like people, but not that much. We wanted to be as close to the middle of nowhere as you can and still have access to the 'amenities' of a (very) small town.
We want to grow our own food, hunt, and fish. We want space for our dogs and horses to roam.
We want to live like our grandparents did: simple and self-sufficient.
We also want a good wifi connection.
OUR REALITY OF COUNTRY LIFE
The wifi's a bit spotty, but the rest is pretty much as we'd planned.
We live in a century home on an old organic hobby farm, outside a town with one stop light.
There are deer and rabbit tracks all over our property and we have a pond stocked with trout.
Our children and animals are healthy, happy, safe, and free to roam.
We live in God's Country!
Mama & Papa Country
Big Brother & The Little Guy (Our Boys)
Dyson & Molly (Our Dogs)
Reign, Cedar, Tobi, Bronson & King (Our Horses)
Gordon & Yvonne (Our Goats)
Follow us on Instagram @hellocountrymagazine and get a glimpse into what Country Life looks like for a bunch of City folk.
Stay connected and read our weekly digests, monthly magazine & podcast shows. You can also check out our First 90 Days blog to see what it was like for us when we first left the City and moved to the Country.
And lastly, we know we're not the only ones who've said: "Goodby City...Hello Country!"
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