Jennifer asked the question, “But whether I’ve met you or not, I want to know your story. The vast majority of my readers are firearms enthusiasts of some stripe. How did that happen? How did you become gunnies?”
It was my grandfather that got me started. My mother’s father. He hunted. He shot trap. He had a glass gun case in his office with a few of his favorite rifles and shotguns. Very early, maybe the summer I turned 5, he started me with a .22 in the field behind the house. Tin cans, because what kid doesn’t like a reactive target?
By the time I was 8 we were shooting clay pigeons in that field, him throwing them with an old wood handled hand thrower and me with an old side by side 12 gauge with a cut down stock. I must have broke enough of them to satisfy him, because he took me to his club that summer and let me start shooting trap at the Wednesday night shoots.
He took me deer hunting when I was older, although I never even saw a deer when we were out together.
He took me to the town dump a few times, which in those days was a true dump in an old sand pit. We took the .22 and a couple of his heavier rifles and went to shoot rats and other targets of opportunity. I didn’t know anything about surplus rifles at the time, but I remember one of his rifles well enough to know now that he was using a Garand. Ping!
But mostly what we did together was shoot trap. It is one of my fondest memories of my growing up. Cool New Hampshire evenings, the lights over the line shining out toward a dark line of tall pines, bringing up the gun and calling for the bird, the satisfaction of a solid hit as the bird disappeared. Seeing my grandfather with his friends, the thick New England accents as they joked and talked. The smell of the powder drifting off the line.
It was how this journey began for me. Let’s call this part one of four.
Put the bead on the bird and pull the trigger!
–My grandfather, summer 1964 (and 65, 66, 67, …)