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Friday, February 06, 2009

A Gun In My Hand

My last article on guns focused on concealed carry entitled 'A Gun in My Pocket.' Now I wish to discuss the general subject of having a gun in my hand, that is, developing the ability to feel comfortable handling a firearm while at the same time having a healthy respect for your weapon.

In many ways I was very fortunate to be raised in a family of gun owners. I first learned about guns from my grandfather, who never reached a stage in life where he felt practice shooting was unnecessary.

My family was originally from Wales in the U.K. The Welsh people historically are known for being good, decent, unassuming, and hard-working people. The mines in Wales eventually gave way to the cotton mills in the Southern part of the United States.

Hard work was never a problem for my grandfather, and thus, the life of a mill-worker was never considered beneath his dignity or too difficult for him to manage. Being a Welshman, his serious and even grim demeanor meant that he was determined to accomplish any task set before him. And that he did, including teaching a young boy about firearms.

The rural areas of the Carolinas were perfect for target practice. One could practically set up a makeshift shooting range anywhere once they traveled about 10-15 minutes out of town.

I watched my grandfather shoot his pistol in a variety of settings. He believed the variation was essential to becoming adept at shooting in a myriad of situations.

And then it was my turn to hold the pistol, to feel it in my hand, to become comfortable with it while at the same time showing the firearm the ultimate respect. Then it was time to begin pulling the trigger with an unloaded gun in order to get the feel of the trigger mechanism and learn how to pull the trigger with the proper positioning of the finger.

From there it was on to shooting the loaded gun.

Needless to say, from that time forward I was hooked.

Long after my grandfather had passed on, I continued to practice shoot with one of my best buds who was also into guns. As my grandfather had taught me, we went shooting in a variety of settings--at farms, open fields, wooded areas, and the local police club. We practiced with shotguns, rifles, semi-automatic pistols, and of course, revolvers (my favorite).

Some people through the years have stated that the reason my grandfather continued going to target practice even as a man in his late 70s was because he simply enjoyed it. There is an element of truth to that. He was a sportsman, and I have no doubt that he derived a great deal of pleasure from firing his pistol.

But there is also no doubt that a greater reason was lodged in his mind for going practice shooting. He felt it was necessary to stay on top of his game. He never wanted to get rusty, not even as a 78 year old man.

To this day I like the feel of a gun in my hand. I enjoy shooting it in protected areas where I know there is almost no chance of a stray bullet hurting someone. But I also want to keep my shooting skills sharp.

'Use it or lose it' is a good mantra to bear in mind for a skill or talent.

And these are the invaluable lessons I learned from my grandfather.


Anonymous said...

Wonderful post.
Someone once taught me: "If you would shoot well, you must shoot often"

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing those memories. This should be read at every hunter Ed. Class, as well as every "new shooter" course.

Jeff said...

I really miss the days of being able to walk out of my back door for a little target practice. Living in an urban area, I have to drive to a range so I don't go as often as I'd like (or should). So to keep myself in a "shooting frame of mind", when I have a few spare minutes I grab an air rifle or pistol and head out to the back yard. Even 15 or 20 minutes a day is good practice and will help keep your head in the game.