Photos & Words by Matt Pike
Gripped with fear, muscles tense, palms sweaty & jittery like a Belieber, I found myself clumsily loading a 9mm Glock at the Los Angels Gun Club on a muggy March morning. With every crack of gunfire invoking a defibrillator like jolt through my body, & the gentle tinkle of bullet shells falling to the ground, I was in a state of suspended shock. Having fired rifles at home on farms & controlled ranges in my youth, I had misguided confidence leading up to the day, thinking I could exude a ‘Dirty Harry’ Esq. cool with a hand gun extended from my palm. However in the moment of reality, it dawned on me that the pistol in my hand was simply designed... to kill people.
Not a real light bulb moment you might say, but in the hot haze of my confusion it was one of absolute clarity, and one I’ll never forget. After acclimatising to the situation somewhat, I felt a heightened concentration towards firing off my rounds, and finishing what I had came there to do. The result of which was an uneasy mix of relief & humble pie. Far from home & completely out of my comfort zone I stepped out of the club into the industrial back lot only to hear the deafening whir of the Hollywood Chapter of the Mongols Motorcycle gang. As they whipped past, I shot (my camera) from my hip to capture a few images, much to the horror of my friend standing by my side. Two brushes with two symbols of ‘mainstream’ fear in just one day. Not a deeper breath of America could I breath.