Getting ready for the gun shows: Shooting stuff with Cory Oberndorfer and John Anderson
Cory Oberndorfer's upcoming show will feature work exploring the nature of guns as toys. At a shooting range outside of Dulles, with him and artist John Anderson, who is also planning a gun-themed show for this summer, that started to make sense to me; all I could think about as I stared at the 9 mm Glock handgun in a plastic container in front of me was that it looked like a theater prop, a toy. I'd never seen one up close before.
After I wrote about their dueling gun shows this fall — unknown to each other, both artists applied for grants with a similar idea of building a gun store in Washington — they invited me on their research trip to a shooting range in Ashburn. Oberndorfer had purchased a LivingSocial coupon for the facility: $70 for “Hour-Long Shooting Range Package with an Introductory Lesson, Handgun Rental, Protective Equipment, One Target, and One Box of Ammo for Three People.”
"What's this place called, again? Anderson asks in the car on the way over.
"Silver Eagle," says Oberndorfer.
"Of course," says Anderson.
In the months since the discovery of their dual projects, Anderson and Oberndorfer have tried to immerse themselves in gun culture as much as possible. Anderson joined the National Rifle Association and also made a donation to the Brady Campaign Against Gun Violence. Oberndorfer, who had shot guns at a range before, went paintballing with a group of local artists. Some of his crew dressed in drag for the occasion, much to the chagrin of the beefy paintball pros they were shooting at.
Upon our arrival at Silver Eagle Group, we are given a four-page legal document to initial and sign, with each section emphasizing that we could be maimed or die, and that if we did, we or our survivors could hold neither Silver Eagle nor any of its patrons accountable — but if we decided to sue anyway, we'd have to argue our case through arbitration and not before a more-sympathetic jury. Anderson hands his back to the chirpy woman at the front desk.
"I didn't know I'd have to name my child Silver Eagle," he jokes.
"Just wait ‘til you get to the part about the lease on your home," she says back, quickly.
And then we wait for half an hour, during which:
• Anderson and Oberndorfer critique the shoddy photoshopped design of some NRA flyers lying on a coffee table.
•Three women ask me to take their photo, having just completed their session. The photo is declared to be “cute.”
• We marvel at a young boy, there with his father and a seasoned pro of the gun range, because he appears to be only a couple of years older than Anderson's 2-year-old daughter.
At noon, our instructor Brandon, with a holstered gun, polo shirt, and a camouflage trucker hat, assembles our fellow LivingSocial coupon-buyers, mostly twentysomething dudes who are eager to get their hands on the biggest gun available to them. I was the only girl, and Anderson and I are the only ones who, prompted by a show of hands, had never shot a pistol before. So he and I get 9 mm Glocks, which we are told are easy for beginners. More advanced shooters are given larger and more complex guns. In the sparse, fluorescent-lit classroom, we're taught to always handle the gun as if it were loaded, even though we haven't been given any bullets yet.
"Never point a gun at anything you're not willing to destroy," says Brandon. "And I promise, we will destroy some things."
RecommendedRecent Facebook Activity
Best of TBD In case you missed it
Here's a visual look at the eight most delicious, disgusting meals in the country.
TBD Blogs What you need to read
The Market Report
@TBD On Foot
Only On 7
Now you can get customized weather right down to your street! Plan your day and week ahead with ABC7's Interactive 7-day forecast!