11 June 2011

My Story

... Jennifer asks how I became a gunnie.

I wanted to learn to shoot as far back as I can remember, but grew up in suburban California where no one had guns or talked about shooting.  Mom was hoplophobic as Sarah Brady herself.  We weren't even allowed cap guns as kids and water guns were only barely tolerated.

First chance to shoot came at boyscout camp.  We had our choice of "classes" to take and once I'd heard shooting was available, I knew that was the one for me.  I don't recall  it being a particularly positive experience.   I suspect that was more due to the fact that shooting is not something mastered in a five day course than anything about their program (However shooting was supposed to also be available during "free time" and it wasn't.

Circa 1975 I took NRA hunter safety as an elective in grade school, from a teacher I absolutely loathed.  He had been my 6th grade teacher and we did not get along.  But I took it because the carrot, getting to shoot at the end of the class, was worth putting up with him.*  So I went through the class, learned a lot and never got to shoot.  They tried a couple times for a range day but each was rained out and finally gave up.

The desire to learn pretty much died out for many years through high school and college.  This was California and as far as I knew, guns were illegal here.  I shot archery in college (25# recurve bow), wishing it were guns. It was fun and I did well enough that I was frequently shooting the  nocks off my arrows Robin Hood style.

Following college and starting a career, I soon landed in the Free state of Arizona.  Some co-workers discussed going out into the desert to shoot over lunch one day and they invited me to tag along.  Years of pent up desire came flooding back and I soon placed an order with my friendly local FFL and bought my first gun.  And joined the NRA. Then followed another purchase, and another, etc...

Learned my fiancĂ©e (now wife) liked to shoot.  Her grandmother was an Annie-Oakley style sharp shooter.  Family heirlooms include a collection of plugged nickels that were shot out of the air.

Since then we have acquired a good sized safe and filled it.  Handguns, rifles, shotguns.  I learned about the CMP and quickly decided the Garand deal wasn't going to last forever.  I bought one for me and one for the SCSon.  Then an M1 Carbine.  Then I learned IBM made some carbines and scored one of their precious few (I'm a geek, had to have one).   I hadn't really considered a Mosin Nagant, but the SCSon developed an interest via one of his video games.  The store up on the hill had them for less than a C-note so "heck why not?"  BVTW, the only regrets buying guns are the ones I passed on and should have bought.  I actively avoid looking at the Aim Surplus website because I too frequently find stuff I want to buy.  The SandCastle Queen kinda now gives me that "numb" look when I tell her I bought another gun, you know, kinda like Ferdinand Marcos when Imelda announced she bought another dozen pairs of shoes.

We have a couple of her grandfather's rifles here in protective custody after the SandCastle Queen found them in a shed suffering from exposure. We also have my dad's gun which he got when he was twelve.  It was in my grandmother's closet (recall mom hated guns).  I took both he and the gun on a range trip.  Near as we can tell, he hadn't picked up that gun in 55 years nor fired a shot in the last 50, yet he hit a 2" swinger at 50 yards on the first shot.  Apparently he remembered the sight picture.

I have taught the family that these guns are family heirlooms not to be sold, traded or surrendered.  Nothing would make me happier than to see these handed down 10 generations from now.  Nothing would break my heart more than to see a relative take one to a pawn shop to see what they can get for it.  I didn't buy these so you could sell them to a pawn shop for 30 cents on the dollar.  These are your birthright and yours to exercise your second amendment rights.   I will come back to haunt anyone that pisses that away.

A decade ago the inescapable logic of "911 won't save you but 1911 can", "When seconds count, police are minutes away", etc.  Now both the SandCastle Queen and I both have multiple CCW permits.  I hope I never have to use it, but I don't go to an ATM without a gun.  (Not that we need the permit as AZ now has constitutional carry but the permit lets us carry in about 35 other states).

We have lots of fun with shooting.  We shoot Mr. Completely's ePostal match (and currently host the May match).  We shoot a local fun steel match.  I've shot a high power match, and the SCSon shoots Olympic 4 position small bore with the clubs junior smallbore division , a program I would have loved to participate in when I was a teen.  I'm looking forward to shooting the clubs pistol caliber carbine match.  One of the few items left on my "to-do this life" list (AKA bucket list) is to shoot a high power match at Camp Perry.  I won't make it this year, but I'm aiming for 2012.

* in hindsight, I shouldn't be too hard on the guy.  He taught NRA hunter safety in a California public school and wasn't charged with a felony for bringing a gun on to school grounds.  That included him bringing his 30.06 deer rifle into class, demonstrated cleaning the rifle and letting us learn the sights.  But that's how I felt at the time.

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