My search for a proper gun shop (used the yellow pages lol) lead me to a nice place in downtown Lexington that actually had more guns than employees (unlike others). After eyeballing all the pretties I could now buy, one of the clerks asked if I needed help. Being overly eager to make connections at the moment, I chatted him up, and actually found him to be a proper gunny. We discussed laws in California (which he was surprisingly current on), a variety of new guns, gun shop etiquette, some light politics, and generally hit it off. He excused himself to lunch, and asked if I'd like to come along to talk more.
He's actually very well informed about a wide variety of topics, and is a proper libertarian, which meant we couldn't stop agreeing with each other. I could feel my excitement building; this was my first Kentucky friend, and so far, he was going to be a really good one.
He invited me on a range trip the next day, which I gladly accepted. The trip was a terrible bust due to a series of failures, but the driving around meant I got to talk to him more, and we definitely built a stronger foundation for the friendship.
The range we planned on visiting was temporarily closed due to the actions of some idiots causing a fire. Tracers + belt-fed = WTF do you think it equals?! Friggin' FIRE! There was some light joking that they'd have to sell some of their full autos to pay for the fines and fire dept bill. There were actually a few other shooters there who were learning the range was closed too, after hooking up with them, one suggested a nearby range he knew, so we convoyed over only to find it strangely empty. We went to a local outfitters (which I guess is just a shop) and asked about entry or if we could call the owners (who the clerk knew by name) who indicated the range was temporarily closed, and they wouldn't accept day passes. Well gee. Luckily, one of the friends we went with knew of another range, a little closer to the way back. We arrived to discover the range was now a chapel. Must be a Kentucky thing.
Hours and dozens of miles after starting, we gave up on the rifle shooting, and went to a popular local shop and pistol range in Lexington for some consolation shooting.
Luckily, this place hadn't been struck by lightning or been swallowed up by the Earth, and we were able to actually shoot. I shot my friend's Taurus Beretta 92 clone stupidly well, leaving a 1.5 inch group at 7 yards (he doesn't shoot past 7 yards, because he feels that beyond that range, he can probably run. (Fair enough, when in Rome, etc...) I wondered if he felt the responsibility to defend strangers, but didn't ask. There'll be time for that in the countless hypotheticals we gunnies concern ourselves with. Free to do rapid fire, I indulged in what I was only able to test in the desert, and found my accuracy extremely comforting. Carrying a 9 is much easier knowing you can put 10 shots in a fist sized area in seconds.
After shooting, I spent some time perusing the wide selection and even found some nice classic arms. The prices were second only to the selection. Some pieces were very similarly priced to California, but so many others were significantly less than I was able to find. The selection of suppressors was also of much interest to me. A .22 suppressor will be first.
After this, I went to lunch at a steakhouse, and because I had just enjoyed my newfound rights, I open carried from the parking lot to the steakhouse and back again. No one's head exploded, the police didn't draw down on me, and I didn't act like an idiot. In fact, I was overly polite, and even scratched my right ear a few times to make sure the proprietors had the opportunity to see me carrying so they could ask me to return my gun to my car (though I saw no "no guns" sign). Baby steps for now. I believe concealed carry has significant advantages to open carry, but I can't get my permit until I've lived here for 6 months, leaving open carry my only option. I plan on exercising this right more until then.
Overall, I made a good new friend, got an introduction to Kentucky's gun culture, and exercised a new right. I can't wait to see what else Kentucky has in store for me.