Thursday, June 9, 2011

In the Beginning....

Jennifer is asking for our stories of how we got into guns, so here we go:

I grew up around guns as a young child, although my mother was a committed East Coast hoplophobe.  Guns weren't anything special, they were just there.  My father's family hunted every season, and it wasn't uncommon for me and my cousins to burn up a brick of .22 short in one afternoon of plinking.   There weren't any gun nuts that I remember, just men and women who used them as tools.

I can honestly say I don't remember the first time I fired a gun.  I was just so young that it's gotten jumbled up with all of the other memories.  My first gun was a .22 single shot that I inherited from a cousin, and it was probably ancient before he got it.  I later passed it on to another cousin when my mother forbid me to give it to my brothers.

When my mom and dad divorced, my stepfather came into the picture, and guns changed from an everyday tool into a fetish item.  He was a true gun nut, and every gun was of some significance to him.  He had several rather expensive hunting rifles that he never took out of the box, and his 1970's vintage Colt AR-15 probably had less than 100 rounds through it.  He shot his pistols every so often, but for the most part they were something he took down, played around with, and put up.  He was convinced that a nuclear war was imminent, and he was ready to be the ruler of our neighborhood though sheer firepower.  Something tells me step-dad probably couldn't have hit the broad side of the barn.

As for me, now that my father and his family were out of the picture, guns were taboo.  My .22 and BB gun disappeared, and I was not allowed to do anything with the step-dad's mini-arsenal except lug it around when we moved.  I distinctly remember my mother going off on my Scoutmaster when I came home from summer camp with a merit badge for marksmanship.

When I joined the military, I was around weapons of course.  I made the mistake of thinking that because I knew what an AR-15 looked like and some of how it functioned I knew how to shoot an M-16.  After having that little preconception corrected, I progressed up to being a fair to middling shot by the time I got out of training.  Over time, I became a firearms instructor for my unit, and became a pretty good shot with the M-16.  Other shooty goodness came along, including the Bushmaster cannon on a Bradley and the M-2 .50 caliber machine gun on my M113.  Ahhh, memories.

One side note on military firearms training:  I encountered a large number of soldiers in the intelligence field who didn't like guns.  I was shocked.  Here was someone who was being given a gun, free ammo, and being allowed to shoot it at reactive targets for free, and they were either ambivalent or afraid.   I loved going to the range, and tried to go as often as I could, but I was the exception in a lot of my units.  A surprising number of otherwise squared away soldiers, both male and female, hated the range, and barely zeroed their rifle once a year when they went out to qualify.  More than once, I coached someone through getting their minimal 23 hits out of 40 just so we could pack up and go home.

Anyway, once I put my uniform in the closet for good, I didn't shoot again for about 5 years.  I didn't have any personal guns while I was in the military because I had always lived on post where having a personal weapon in your quarters was forbidden.  I didn't get any guns after I got out because of money and not thinking of it.  I have to admit that at the time I was a bit of a Fudd, and since I wasn't hunting, I didn't think I needed a gun.  Having one for self defense or just for fun didn't even enter my mind.  I was a true believer in the "Only Ones" approach to anything other than hunting pieces.

Three things changed my mind and sent me down the track towards where I am today:

First, during the summer of 2002, Louisville got smacked with a storm that knocked out our power for about a week.  It was widespread enough that our entire quarter of the city went dark.  I had the kids that week, and Irish Woman was on the road.  Some of the houses in the subdivisions around us started getting broken into, and there I was, alone with three small children and no way to protect them.  So once the money was available in the budget, I went out and got a shotgun for the house.  I put a box of shells through it, put it in the closet with another box of shells, and didn't touch it for a couple of years.  But at least I had a gun.

Next, I thought I might get a cheap rifle for deer hunting.  I couldn't afford a Remington or Winchester like my father had owned, but I figured I could pick up a cheap surplus rifle and get good with it while saving up for a 'real' rifle.  Co-incidentally, the movie "Enemy at the Gates" came out at about that same time, and I thought the Russian bolt actions looked pretty sweet. A friend took me to a gun show, and there I found table after table of Mosin-Nagant's.  I picked a 91/30 out pretty much at random, gave it a cursory lookover, and bought it.  I got lucky and got one in pretty good condition, and it's still my favorite plinking gun. 

Researching that old gun led me to various gun forums, which introduced me to the modern gun culture.  It also led me to start reading Tam's blog, who led me to Breda, who led me to the Atomic Nerds, who led me to #GBC.  The rest is history.

And last but not least, I was involved in a robbery.  One of my buddies and I were going out to his woodlot to get some firewood and scope out whitetail activity one Saturday, and I stopped at the local stop-n-rob for a coke and some ice that morning.  As I was standing in line, one of the other customers pulled his stocking cap down over his face, walked up to the cashier, and demanded all of the money.  So there I stood with nothing but my wallet in my hand, while an armed creep robbed the store.  After he ran off with all of the money in the till, my friend showed up about a minute behind the police.  The first thing out of his mouth was "You have got to get a pistol and carry."  So over the course of the next few months, I got a pistol, learned to shoot it and got my CCW license.

So now I own a few guns, know how to shoot all of them, and am bringing my kids and anyone else who asks into the gun world.  I went from Fudd, to home defense, to surplus rifles, to carrying a pistol as often as I can.  I'm trying to learn from my mistakes and the things I saw and did along the way, and I'm hoping that in some way I'm making a positive effect on our tight little group.


On a Wing and a Whim said...

"I got lucky and got one in pretty good condition, and it's still my favorite plinkingBreda, who led me to the Atomic Nerds, who led me to #GBC.", looks like computer managed to cut something there? How did the Mosin lead to Breda? Inquiring minds want to know...

DaddyBear said...

Sorry about that. I've corrected it.

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