Shoot First, Flirt Later

Meet Market Adventures brings singles together for a rousing night of pistol practice. But the ultimate bull’s-eye is love.

The paper targets dangle invitingly at the far end of the shooting range. Rosie takes dead aim with a 9-millimeter Smith & Wesson and squeezes off a malevolent volley. POP-POP-POP. 

When the target is reeled in, fluttering through the gunsmoke, Rosie rips off her goggles and grabs it. Turns out she has scrawled her ex-husband’s name on it. “Look!” she cries. “I shot him in the groin!”

No hard feelings. At the New Jersey Firearms Academy in North Bergen, the mood of the evening is upbeat. Fifteen men and women have gathered for what’s billed as a singles handgun shooting experience, sponsored by the New Jersey chapter of Meet Market Adventures.

Established in 2000 as a couples hiking club, Meet Market now caters to singles seeking thrills, chills—and each other. “It’s an alternative to online dating and the bar scene,” says John Chartier, 32, Meet Market’s New Jersey director of operations. “It’s for single people to meet in a no-pressure environment.”
The participants, ages 35 to 50, say they come for the event but stay for the socializing. “I just wanted to get the hell out of the house,” says one woman.

“Sometimes people have such a good time that they don’t want to ruin it by actually dating someone,” says Chartier. Not that it doesn’t happen.  Mike, a 47-year-old divorced police officer from Essex County, is a Meet Market veteran: hiking, wine tasting, karaoke bowling. He met a woman on a Meet Market whitewater rafting trip.

“We dated for awhile,” he says. “It’s the activity that drives the whole evening, and that breaks the ice.”
Scott, a 39-year-old attorney from Bergen County, escaped a bad relationship a year and half ago. He’s wearing a three-piece gray suit, but he’s just as gung ho as Rosie.

“Just remember, no limitations, zero threshold!” he yells before donning goggles and earplugs for his turn firing the big Springfield .45-caliber.

Ten minutes later, Scott returns, holding his bullet-riddled target. He looks relaxed. Although the evening ends without a dating breakthrough, he has enjoyed himself. “Do what you like,” he says. “Life’s too short. If it happens, it happens. But I have hope.”

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