I still remember the crisp, cool Arizona mornings at Gunsite Academy. I hadn’t packed quite enough warm clothing to layer on for the surprisingly chilly start to each day. So I had borrowed a sweatshirt from a fellow student and coworker. But even with that extra bulk piled on top of several other shirts and a hoodie, I was still a bit shaky.

Shaky hands (and a shivering body) would have been a pretty normal and acceptable “excuse” for missing a few rounds on the paper target in front of me. But what happened next really set me up for one of my most embarrassing moments on the range.

All the shooters were on the firing line, listening to instructions and going through a drill together, when my left hand started to cramp. Horribly. All my fingers seemed to suddenly and simultaneously take on lives of their own as they curled, rotated or contorted in painful and uncomfortable positions. I couldn’t continue to shoot like that. I couldn’t even continue to hang on to my gun like that! So I carefully placed my M&P back in my holster and stepped back.

An instructor quickly came over and firmly instructed me to get back to my position. He made it very clear to me (and everyone else) that I was not supposed to holster my gun or move from the firing line. At this point, however, both hands were aching terribly. I showed him my twisted fingers as I shook them and rubbed them, desperately trying to ease the pain. As best I could, I explained what was going on, but I’m pretty sure it looked and sounded like I was concocting some ridiculous excuse for poor marksmanship.

My Excuse

The chill was bad enough that day, but it was actually dehydration that did me in. And I certainly learned my lesson. I’m pretty sure my excuse sounded desperate and made up, but it was 100 percent true. And the funny thing is, my cramping hands have made me even more attentive to the “excuses” I hear during class or at shooting matches.

Of course, even the most skilled and trained shooters sometimes wander into the so-called “Bermuda Triangle of Firearms.” You know, where all skills and fundamentals seem to disappear, or weird things happen to our guns and gear. I’d be interested to hear your best excuses. In the meantime, here are some others I’ve encountered!

More Excuses Overheard at the Gun Range

  • “I haven’t shot a gun in a while.”
  • “My spouse won’t let me practice as much as I want to.”
  • “I’ve never used this gun (holster, ammo, etc.) before.”
  • “I’m just testing this gun (holster, ammo, etc.).”
  • “These safety glasses keep fogging up.”
  • “The sun was in my eyes.”
  • “I forgot my contacts.”
  • “I flinched.”
  • “It’s too cold.”
  • “It’s too hot.”
  • “I was actually aiming somewhere else.”
  • “I forgot which target was mine.”
  • “I didn’t want to outshoot everyone else.”
  • “I didn’t want to wear out the center of the target.”
  • “I do better when I shoot at the orange targets, not the blue ones.”
  • “The wind blew the paper target sideways when I was shooting.”
  • “It’s too dark.”
  • “I waited too long to get that perfect shot, and my hands and arms got shaky.”
  • “This gun just doesn’t fit me well.”
  • “I’ve never liked this gun.”
  • “This trigger is too light.”
  • “I’m using reloads.”
  • “I forgot that this gun doesn’t like this ammo.”
  • “I have different shoes on today.”
  • “My sights are off.”
  • “I was just pushing myself to failure.”
  • “My socks are too tight.”
  • “I had to sneeze.”
  • “My mental game is off today.”
  • “I’m actually not feeling very well at all today.”
  • “I’m trying out for the part of an Imperial Stormtrooper.”

About Beth Alcazar

Boasting several training certifications including TWAW, SIG Sauer Academy, ALICE Institute and I.C.E. Training, Beth Alcazar is enthusiastic about safe and responsible firearms ownership. She has nearly two decades in the firearms industry and is a Certified Training Instructor and Senior Training Counselor for the USCCA and Training Counselor, Chief Range Safety Officer and Certified Instructor for the NRA. The associate editor of Concealed Carry Magazine, Beth also uses her experience and degrees in language arts, education and communication management to author the Pacifiers & Peacemakers column as well as Women’s Handgun & Self-Defense Fundamentals.