Girls can play just as hard

Girls+can+play+just+as+hard

Rick Pefley

Shooting guns at the Honolulu Firearms and Range can become addicting.

Anything boys can do, girls can do just as well.

Although men contain more of the masculine physic and possess the muscle strength girls can only dream of, guys shouldn’t underestimate the courage that girls are willing to take on. On the outside, many girls come off as preppy and fragile, but when women are placed into a sport where typically more men are found, such as paintball or shooting a gun, don’t be fooled because girls are willing to show off the skills they have hidden underneath their pretty face.

To prove that the grouping of masculine and feminine activities is based off stereotypes, Rick Pefley, my fellow staff writer, and I have decided to switch roles. He pampered himself with a manicure and pedicure along with a chest and belly waxing. I played paintball and shot some guns.

With a girly-girl persona, I find comfort in a freshly painted set of nails and spending my days at the mall so the last place I thought I would end up at would be in a field surrounded by men pointing guns at me. I wanted to try something new, a new sport that would give me a different viewpoint on life. Although I did learn not to let stereotypes get in the way of trying something new, my curiosity didn’t prepare me for the pain I was about to experience.

When I thought about playing paintball the first thought that popped into my head was what should I wear. Being so concerned, I spent time researching different outfits and decided to wear leggings underneath sweatpants, a hoodie over a long-sleeved shirt and made sure every other inch of my body was covered up with a mask, kneepads and gloves. But not even that was enough armor to build my confidence. Trembling as I started walking toward the field, Bucky Shaw, one of the referees at Island Paintball located in Waimanalo, reassured me that there was nothing to fear as he scooted me into the battle.

Throughout the 10-minute game, my heart was racing on a non-stop treadmill. The fear of getting hit was my main focus and running away from every movement I had seen was my main goal. I was terrified of a paintball crashing against my skin leaving behind a bruise and the thoughts of the other players judging me left me at a standstill.   Trying to push my girly-girl thoughts aside, I built up the courage to shoot the

paintball gun but my bad aim got me no hits. Lucky for me, my partner through the chaos was Mapu Taamu, 19, who had my back when I went to panic mode. Other than myself, Taamu was the only girl on the field.

“I love the feeling that paintball gives me afterwards,” said Taamu, who has gone paintballing every Sunday for the past few months. “The pain I feel in the morning from the muscles aches remind me of what a good workout paintball is.”

Getting off the field was a relief. Shaw gave me a pat on the back as I headed toward the benches to watch the next game. According to Shaw, the ratio of girls versus guys who play more than twice a month is typically about one to fifteen.

“I think it is a good thing that girls or even anyone for that matter play paintball,” Shaw said. “Doesn’t matter if you’re a boy or a girl or age 9 or 90.”

After watching and listening to the intense yelling of the 15 men about who should fire at whom, I was ready to take on another gender-biased activity, the gun range, later that afternoon.

As I stepped foot into Honolulu Firearms and Range, I immediately became intimidated when I saw the guns that were hung up against the wall and every possible equipment needed to safely shoot a gun that outlined the room. The buff and rugged men, who did double takes as I walked in, reminded me of my place as a girl while I walked the grounds of unknown territory. As my instructor, Jason Richards, grabbed the bullets that we were going to use, my mind became overwhelmed with the technical names of the guns and ammo. An AR-15 loaded with .223-ball ammunition, a 12-gauge pump action shotgun loaded with .00 buckshot and 12g slugs, and a SIG-522 loaded with .22lr high velocity CCI mini-mags … all that terminology gave my brain a headache.

Having never shot a gun before, filled with ammo that could potentially kill someone, I was nervous when Richards started going over the proper safety procedures. He has been shooting for 11 years so his experience and his calming voice helped to relax the nervous jitters I was feeling in my stomach.

As we entered the shooting room, I grabbed the Interstate Arms Defender 12g shotty and listened carefully to Richards as he instructed me on the proper way to stand and shoot the weapon. When I pulled the trigger for the first time, the kick put my body in a shock. Richards worked me up from the bullet with the lightest kick to the bullet with a wicked kick.

With the Sig Arms SIG-522 locked in my shoulders and my eye on the paper target, I got ready to fire the last round of bullets. I gathered all of the negative energy I was feeling and released it when I pulled the trigger. With a smile on my face, I felt relieved.

“Your shots were ridiculously good for a first-time shooter and your handling of the weapons were also excellent,” Richards said.

The recoil from the gun made the experience enjoyable, but the pain I felt throughout my arms hindered me from flexing the muscles I gained. Here’s a preview of my first time shooting a gun.

After proving to myself that I can play just as well as the boys, I’ve realized that stereotypes are just stereotypes. They are preconceived ideas that get in the way of wanting to try a new sport or an activity. There’s nothing wrong with a girl wanting to shoot a gun or a guy wanted to take care of his skin. Girls are more than just a face full of make-up and there are more to guys than the muscles they chose to show off. By taking the time to experience sports that are male based, I’ve realized that I enjoy getting rid of my girly attitude every once in a while to try something different. Who knows, maybe I’ll find myself a new hobby, like fantasy football or fishing.