After seeing the five shots land true, Rothman instructs me to reload ten more rounds and squeeze them off. I oblige. Nerves settled, I begin to understand the elusive appeal of the gun. To be in control of a tool this powerful and deadly is to experience a visceral, almost intoxicating degree of autonomy. It's sort of like the initial few days of giddy emancipation one feels after receiving a driving license, all contained in a flex of an index finger.
"I won't tell the other guys," Rothman says as the target reels back six additional feet, "but you're shooting a perfect score so far."
The words of encouragement proved to be a jinx. The next two shots veer five inches off-target, one high and to the left, the other just high. Ignoring the occasional spent shell casing peppering my head, I continue to blast away, each shot about two seconds apart. I regain control and finish with a score of 146.
I'm now eligible for a permit to carry in Minnesota.
I leave the Burnsville Pistol Range parking lot with a tattered paper target, 28 unspent 9 millimeter rounds, and a mild headache.