Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Shooting for the First Time

ReasonableNut and his father argued about what is the best type of gun for a newbie to start shooting. The post got me thinking about when I first fired a gun.

I was eight years old. The gun was a Hopkins & Allen 12 gauge shotgun with one barrel and a break-open action. There was no recoil pad, just the bakelite butt plate. When I fired it, the only reason I didn’t fall on my own butt was my Dad’s firm hand on my back. I still remember the roar of the gun (in the 1960s no one wore ear protectors especially outdoors—probably why the volume on my TV is too loud and Bill tells me to turn it down).

I still remember the feel of my Dad’s hand on my back. It comforted me as the gun slammed into my shoulder. I knew I would be alright even though it was loud and kinda hurt. I started to hand the gun back to my father and he asked if I wanted to shoot it again. I wanted too more than I had ever wanted anything else.

I ended up shooting almost an entire box of shells (25 of them for neophytes). We were just shooting at some cardboard boxes and other trash in the local gravel pit/impromptu gun range, but I shredded those boxes and demolished that trash. I was actually good at it.

When I got home, my mother yelled at my Dad when she saw the bruise on my shoulder. She could not understand that the bruise was my badge of courage. I was sad when it began to fade.

I took to shooting like a duck takes to water. My Dad took me out again and soon I was shooting his hunting rifle, but I still loved the shotgun more. Today, I still love shotguns, but I shoot handguns more than anything else.

Maybe because I started shooting a shotgun when I was but knee-high, I grew to love guns with lots of recoil. At a range recently I rented the Smith & Wesson .500 Magnum with the long barrel. It looked like a clown gun in my hand—too big and too shiny to be a real gun. I let off several rounds and laughed. The recoil was strong, but it felt so right and I almost felt my father’s hand on my back. Now, I wonder if I am going to buy that big gun and have to pay over two dollars a round each time I want to recapture that feeling. Oh well, there is a down side to everything.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I learned to shoot at summer camp back in the late 50's with a Remington Matchmaster target rifle. Beside the rifle the rangemaster laid a wooden block with 5 holes in it, and a 22 long rifle stuck in each hole. Was forbidden to do anything unless ordered "load your rifle, close your bolt, commence fireing, open your bolt, load your rifle...." Did teach me that shooting is a dicipline. Alas, years later I got a really great deal on a target rifle which a camp was forced to sell when parents said "if there are any guns my son/daughter will not go near the place."

My first gun was a Marlin 39A "Mountie" lever action carbine. Still have it, and off all the guns I have, it's the one I shoot the best with.