I am marking this one as done even though I did not get a gun license. The main idea behind this Bucket List item was to learn about guns and to actually experience shooting guns. The idea was that I would then get a gun, and that would require a gun license. I was reminded of when I learned to drive. I was taught on a manual transmission, because some day there might be an emergency that requires you to dive one. There might someday be an emergency where I need to know how to fire a gun.
As the first step in this process, I went and took a hand gun safety class at a nearby shooting range. It covered the basics: don't load the gun until you are ready to shoot it, don't point it at anything you don't want to shoot, and don't put your finger on the trigger until you are actually ready to shoot that thing. There was also some basic stuff on stance and where to look when shooting. I then got a box of .22 caliber ammunition and a pistol to try it out. They put the target at 15 feet and I did okay, but I tended to pull up and to the right. Pulling to the right was because I was wrapping my finger around the trigger. You just want the tip of the finger on the trigger.
While I learned out to use a pistol, I didn't really enjoy it. Sighting down the pistol to the target was giving me a headache. That may have been due to my bifocals, but it was just a pain in the eyes. And I wasn't really getting any other enjoyment out of it.
But that's pistols, and not all guns are pistols. If I was going to get a gun, it would be primarily for home defense (and secondly for SHTF). A lot of people say shotguns are the best home defense weapon, and you don't even need a license for them. I have an old friend from high school who not only owns guns, but is a certified instructor. So I got him to take me out and teach me how to use a shotgun. I did much better shooting clay targets, and actually enjoyed it quite a bit.
So I started looking at a shotgun that I would actually get. I went to the gun store in my neighborhood, and talked to them about my concerns (mainly automatic vs. pump-action). They recommended going to a range where I could rent some of the guns to try them out. In terms of making sure you fully pump the pump-action, they said you should go to the range at least once a month to remain proficient with your firearm.
I couldn't really argue with that last bit of advice. While I did enjoy shooting clay targets with my friend, I didn't enjoy it enough to get off my butt once a month to actually go do it. Furthermore, this would have required a range membership, a not insignificant expense. I had the budget for the one time purchase of a shotgun, but not the ongoing cost of a gun membership. So I decided not to buy a gun.
However, I did learn about guns, both gun safety and basic operation. This was the main point of the bucket list item. And now if I am ever in a car with Bruce Willis screaming "Do you know how to load a gun?" at me, I can scream back "Yes."