Photographers' Blog

A day at the gun range

Los Angeles, California

By Jill Kitchener

If a guy wanted to take me to a gun club for a date, I don’t know how I’d react. Growing up near Toronto, Canada, guns have never played a role in my life – most certainly not my dating life. Shooting guns as a recreational activity has never caught on in my social circle.

Yet I found myself at the Los Angeles Gun Club with photographer Lucy Nicholson while on vacation.

After a nice lunch at a neighborhood cafe we thought we’d try our luck in getting permission to shoot at the gun club – with our cameras. To my surprise, the manager was more than happy to have us document the action. She kindly provided us with headphones to save our eardrums.

We met a family with a young girl learning to shoot (the minimum age to shoot at a gun range is 10, as long as they have parental supervision). We met couples on dates, and groups of male and female friends out for some fun. Some were there to shoot the guns they owned, and some were there to try new guns before buying their own. There were tourists looking to shoot, and a swell of frat boys from a local university. Whether young or old, male or female, it seemed everyone was eager to have their shot on the range.


Photographs by Lucy Nicholson

I wasn’t expecting the level of excitement to be at such a high.

Before entering the range, customers picked their guns. I had to laugh at the cartoons of seemingly angry men drawn on some of the targets up for grabs. But before taking aim at the paper perpetrators, everyone had to learn the safety procedures. “Never point a gun at another person.” It made no difference if it was loaded or unloaded – this rule was a non-negotiable. And I was glad to hear it.

My weekend at the Big Sandy Shoot

Near Wikieup, northern Arizona

By Joshua Lott

Sandwiched between the black jack tables of Las Vegas and the knuckle balls of spring training baseball in the Phoenix metropolitan area, machine guns were fired day and night during the Big Sandy Shoot in the desert of northern Arizona near the town of Wikieup.

GALLERY: THE BIG SANDY SHOOT

The three day event attracted hundreds of spectators and shooters from around the country. Some traveled as far as Washington and Mississippi to fire their weapons along a mountain range set up with zombie targets, trash cans and buckets and barrels filled with aluminum oxide mixed with ammonium nitrate to create explosions upon impact.

Several styles of the vintage Browning machine guns used during World War II and the Korean War along with a replica gold 1877 Bulldog Gatling Gun received much attention from the crowd. A family from Utah soaked up some fun cruising around in a 1953 Willys Jeep with a Browning .30 caliber machine gun positioned in the center console.

The most painful story

EDITOR’S NOTE: Last Thursday, April 7, a gunman entered under a false pretext the Tasso da Silveira school in a Rio de Janeiro suburb, carrying two pistols and dozens of rounds of ammunition. An alumnus himself of the same school where he had a history of being bullied and mental illness, he lined children up facing the wall and shot two dozen of them, before turning the gun on himself. Twelve students were dead, and others are still agonizing in the hospital.

This is the most painful type of story for most photographers, when a senseless tragedy involves children. The two Reuters photographers who covered the shooting and subsequent funerals speak here of their experiences, and how they coped professionally and personally.

Sergio Moraes, 49, father of two, writes:

I woke up on April 7, the morning a gunman attacked students at Tasso da Silveira middle school, with a slight headache only hours after celebrating my son’s 18th birthday. A journalist from the newsroom called early to tell me that a man had entered a school in a Rio suburb and injured a few people. It sounded serious but since there were no apparent fatalities I called my colleague Ricardo, who was closer, and asked him to go to the school. It was only when I began to monitor my news sources that I realized we had a huge story on our hands, and I raced to Realengo, the middle class neighborhood where the school was. I called Ricardo and assigned him to the hospital as I arrived at the school.