This was a tense moment for me.
I immediately looked at my Dad, half expecting him to object or refuse it for me. He looked stern, but said nothing.
“You want to try it out?” Grandpa asked. You can guess my answer.
Dad left me alone with my Grandfather that afternoon and I learned to shoot. My very first shot was almost a bulls eye and from that point on, I was totally hooked. We had a great time shooting in Grandma and Grandpa’s back field and I could hardly believe that I was shooting, not only a real rifle, but MY real rifle. I was in heaven.
At the end of the day, my father came to pick me up and take us home. The deal was that for now, the rifle would stay at their house. We lived in a city anyway and there was no place to shoot at home. Grampa had set up his own range on his property, after all. That, and I think Mom would have passed out if we brought it home at this point.
On the way home, I asked Dad the obvious question. I was almost afraid to ask, lest I jinx the dream, but I had to know. “How come you wouldn’t let me get a BB gun but a real rifle is okay?”
“That’s simple.” he replied. “Because it’s a REAL rifle. Not a toy. You will learn how to respect a real fire arm and never confuse it with something to play with. If I feel like you can treat it with respect and show me that you know how to handle it properly, then that day, you can bring it home.”
As always, he was a man of his word. One day I did bring it home and it stayed in my closet in my bed room. I knew with out a doubt that if I EVER got it out with out permission then it would go away forever. I never once wanted to test him on that and so I never showed it to friends or played with it. It was a real rifle, after all. Not a toy.
I still have the rifle my Grandfather got me. He had bought it at a second hand store and had fixed it up him self. He had reblued the metal and refinished the stock and it still looks wonderful. He died only two years later and I miss shooting with him still. When I got to the range, I feel him there with me. He was a gun collector and aficionado. It skipped a generation. Dad couldn’t care either way but I have the bug. I am the proud steward of the small collection of Grandpa’s rifles and pistols and keep them clean and safe. Some day I’ll take Short Stack and Lulu Bell, when the time’s right. I’ll show them the rifle that Great-Grandpa gave me and I’ll teach them to shoot just like he did.
Until then. It’s usually just me alone at the range. Alone other than Grampa, that is.
Who needs BB’s when you can go “BANG” for real?