Friday, November 04, 2005

A Trip Down Memory Lane

I haven't had anything worthwhile to say at all this week, for some reason. I think my brain checked out about Tuesday after I won a poker tourney, and it called to check it's messages today. I'm exhausted and I feel like crap, but hey - what ya gonna do?

So today, I have something else to write about. My first gun.

Can you remember what you're first gun was? For most of us, it was that everlasting Daisy BB gun. Everybody had one of those. Some of us graduated to .22 rifles or .410 shotguns as we grew up. A deer gun in .30-30 on the 14th birthday. Most people who grew up shooting have similar milestones.

I didn't start with the Daisy. In fact, I didn't get one of those until I was about 6. I started with a Savage Arms Model 101. Chambered in .22lr, this little handgun is still the oddest thing in my safe. It is modeled to look like a six-shooter, but it's actually a single shot. A single chamber is permanently attached to the barrel, and the whole assembly rotates off the frame to load shells and eject the empties.

It sports a 4.5" barrel and adjustable sights. Mine is so old and well used the trigger break is crisp and smooth, with about a 3lb letoff. After all these years, it's still the go-to gun for around the house varmint control because I can load CB caps or subsonics or shotshells or anything I need for whatever I need to sort out.

My dad gave me the gun when I was 4. Now, when I say he "gave me the gun," I mean he said "Josh, this is your gun," and I never saw it except at the range. When we'd get there, he'd take my gun and his gun, a S&W 629 that I still have, out of the cases and we'd get all ready to go. He taught me about gun safety and muzzle discipline. He taught me the basic tenets of shooting stances. He taught me breath control and precision shooting techniques. He taught me how to shoot that little gun and how to do it well. He put big .44 caliber holes in the targets, and I put little .22 caliber holes right next to his.

When he died the next year, it was a hard time for my family. Not only did we have to deal with losing my dad, we dealt with almost losing the house and car. My mom went back to work, and somewhere in all the shuffle, the guns disappeared. I thought they were gone by the time I was 8, pawned off to pay for shoes and food. But my mom was a lot more resilient than I could comprehend at an early age. She was able to provide a good life for us without getting rid of anything. When I was 18, she produced my dads guns from a safe deposit box, and presented them to me. In the lot was that little Savage 101.

18 years after I first held and shot that gun, it is the most comfortable and intuitive of anything I shoot. It shouldn't be - the ergonomics are ridiculous - but it is. I owe that to my dad, who taught me everything I know about shooting but didn't get the chance to teach me everything I know about life.