What did you and your sweetie do last Saturday night? Dinner and a movie? (Bo-ring!) Leftovers and Netflix? (Was one of you bedridden?) Perhaps it’s time to consider a more pulse-quickening activity: a visit to Sealed Mindset’s firing range. The Navy SEAL-inspired defense-training center, located in New Hope, is a new breed of training ground designed to appeal far beyond card-carrying NRA membership. Sealed Mindset’s Date Night, for example, pairs a hands-on lesson in handgun use and safety with a catered dinner. (An approach that Inc. recently dubbed the “Most Unusual Business Idea Ever.”) Could firearms stoke the passions of even an avowed pacifist? We decided to find out.
MP: I have to admit, I had my doubts going into the evening. My idea of self-defense is giving the bad guy a hug. I figure at least it’s harder to hit me in the face when I’m right up against you.
QS: I believe in military circles it’s called the Hug-It-Out method.
MP: But our instructors, Larry, a retired SEAL, and his wife, Anne, who has a background in counter-terrorism, had other ideas. It felt a little awkward during Larry’s initial instruction, us sitting together at a table like a pair of high-school students—I didn’t dare pass you a note in front of an instructor who looked like a giant chin hovering six-and-a-half feet off the ground, surrounded by chiseled muscle. But Larry wasn’t nearly as intimidating as his Glock. As soon as he pulled it out, I could feel my heart rate go up, even though he was loading it with plastic bullets.
QS: I never considered myself a pacifist, but for someone whose shooting experience was limited to pellet guns, the sight was plenty jarring. Remember during the lesson when Larry made a point about firearm safety and preparedness by pointing a fake rubber gun directly at Anne? It was unsettling, but in a manageable way. Come to think of it, those two words describe some of my best dates.
MP: And what about the live-scenario room we passed through on the way to the firing range, with the dinged-up sedan used for staged carjackings? I was relieved that activity was beyond Date Night’s scope. There was no sexual tension there, just oh-please-no, bona-fide, nightmare-scary real-life tension.
QS: I thought that the range’s high-tech rubber walls that absorb bullets and kept them from ricocheting were beyond amazing. Then there were those paper targets waiting for us at the end of each shooting stall in the shape of Valentine’s hearts. That’s white-knuckle romance.
MP: It’s a good thing Larry was right there next to me, talking me through all the stages of preparing to shoot: Pay attention to your stance, get the grip right, put tension in your arms, line up the sights, slowly squeeze the trigger. It was almost enough to distract me from anticipating the loud BANG. But your first time firing a gun is like your first kiss—no one crosses that threshold with perfectly steady knees.
QS: And why is it that anything we say about guns immediately sounds like a double entendre?
MP: Well, there’s a reason Brad and Angelina fell in love while filming Mr. & Mrs. Smith and not a remake of Singin’ in the Rain.
QS: Speaking of which, you hit the target four out of four times from 20 feet. I found that exciting on a couple of levels.
MP: Me too. I think it gives me a little more bargaining power when we’re discussing whose turn it is to do the dishes.
QS: By the way, did I tell you that you have lovely shooting form?
MP: Thank you, dear. But those dishes are still yours