Thursday, October 16, 2008

Why Do I Shoot?

Roberta X asked.

One of my early childhood memories is my first visit to the school library, in first grade. Most of us couldn't read, so we went right for the picture books.

Now, most of your guys, I guess, went right for the National Geographics. And, to tell the truth, as a six-year-old boy I had also taken comfort in the pages of those yellow-edged magazines. But on this particular occasion I was drawn to a book of high-speed photographs: balloons bursting, drops of milk spattering, and, most fascinating of all, bullets frozen in flight.

I could hardly believe what I was seeing: bullets, the fastest thing on earth, stopped midway through cutting a playing card in half. I had to find out more about those things.

Another influence was a now-long-forgotten TV show called "Yancy Derringer". This was in the late 1950's, I believe. The title character was an 1880's Mississippi Riverboat gambler, who was actually an undercover policeman. And whenever there was trouble, it seemed that a derringer just materialized in this guy's hand like magic. He must have had half a dozen miniature pistols hidden on him, and it's a wonder that he didn't "clank" when he walked. I thought that he was the epitome of cool. Explains my fascination with small, concealable handguns.

My dad had a little .32 pistol; I think it was Spanish. But I was forbidden to touch it. He let me watch him clean it and that's where I first encountered the ambrosia-like fragrance of Hoppe's #5 Nitro Solvent. It still brings back good memories. And got me interested in the beautiful inner workings of guns.

I was 13 years old when I fired a gun for the first time. It was at summer camp. My parents sent me to sailing camp in North Carolina for a month and they had a rifle range and a dozen .22 bolt-action rifles. I spent hours there and earned an NRA Marksmanship badge. I loved it.

When I got home I begged and pestered my parents unmercifully to get me a .22. I went over the Sears catalog again and again, drooling over their rifles. Finally they caved and bought me a nice little used Savage 20-gauge shotgun. Dad thought I might enjoy it more than a .22 rifle. Well, we went to the hardware store and bought a box of clay pigeons and a spring-loaded gadget to throw them with.

We went clay pigeon shooting a dozen times or so, but most of the utility from that gun was just the responsibility of owning it. I put a hasp on the lower shelf of my bureau and locked the disassembled gun in there. So I was a fourteen-year-old boy with a gun in my room. That was in 1965.

But clay pigeons had to compete with school, football and ham radio, and then college. The little 20-gauge stayed locked up for decades.

In 1990 a co-worker asked me, out of the blue, if I wanted to go skeet shooting. And I remembered the little shotgun. So I took it out into the light again and cleaned it. And when I shot it, I realized one of the reasons I had put it away: it doubled! It had two triggers, but pulling the first trigger fired both barrels; apparently the recoil released the sear and the second barrel fired within a millisecond of the first, virtually simultaneously.

But I adored skeet shooting and I made up my mind to get a gun that was appropriate for skeet. I ultimately bought a new Beretta 686, a 12-gauge over-under with 3-1/2 inch chambers. I got some custom chokes for it, and started shooting twice a week; I worked nights so I could go mid-week. There was just me and this guy who was training for Olympic skeet; he was amazing to watch. In spite of all of my practice I never shot better than 19 out of 25 and I felt that my vision just was not acute enough for moving targets. By that time I had accumulated several other shotguns, including a Benelli Super Black Eagle, a Parker Repro, two old A.H. Foxes and a Beretta 687 20-gauge O/U with a nickel-plated receiver and .410 tubes from Briley. I really miss shooting .410 at skeet; THAT was fun! You GOTTA reload if you shoot .410; you can save a fortune - 12 gauge, not so much.

I sold all of the guns in 2002 to pay my divorce lawyer. *sigh* Oh, well. In the years since I have accumulated a dozen new guns and not one of them is a shotgun! Go figure. I really miss the 687, though; THAT was a pretty gun!

Oh, WHY do I shoot? Sorry if I am rambling. When I was 25 I read Atlas Shrugged. That really spun me around. I became a libertarian and have remained one.

Many years later I read Boston's Gun Bible by Boston T. Party. That introduced me to the concept of an armed libertarian, and got me interested in the civic duty of gun ownership in a free society.

I carry concealed whenever I can; been licensed in Virginia since 1999. I'm a member of VCDL and I support their efforts to make open carry more accepted in Virginia, but open carry is not for me. Part of the protection from carrying a handgun is the ability to surprise a goblin by suddenly producing a gun from concealment. The surprise factor alone is probably enough to end most dangerous confrontations without a shot being fired.

So my interest in shooting is for individual self-defense, as an impediment to government tyranny, and the Swiss concept of a citizenry trained at arms. I also have this annoying streak of resistance to authority; I want to do whatever will annoy my masters. And owning guns, particularly handguns, does that quite well!

Here are the answers from:
Roberta X
Hell In A Handbasket
Maddened Fowl
Sharp As A Marble
William The Coroner
A Keyboard And A .45

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