Guns! When Do We Get Guns?

There are a few things in this world that I will never turn down, regardless of how busy I am or what else I’ve got planned. Drinking coffee, eating doughnuts, Going overseas and playing with my kids comes immediately to mind. One other item on the list is taking people shooting.

(Me) Hi. My name is Turkish Prawn, and I’m a gun nut.
(Crowd replies) Hi, Turkish Prawn.

Actually, the truth of the matter is that I’m an unabashed gun nut. I love shooting, collecting and lusting after the next rifle that I need to add to the collection. Call it an illness or a sport, but I do enjoy time spent with a quality built rifle, a cup of coffee, a stack of clean targets and a small mound of ammunition. Or even, a very large mound of ammunition. That is a morning well spent.

Because I do not tend to fit in with the archetypical image of the gun nut, friends and acquaintances who are, shall we say, left of center are often caught off guard by my participation in the shooting sports. To some, it has been viewed as a betrayal to the cause of striving for a better world. Right of center friends are also often surprised when they find out that love firearms, having long ago taken me, I suppose, as a pinko, commie tree hugger or something. The truth is actually somewhere in the middle. More accurately, I’m somewhere in the middle. Just about dead center I’d say, but that’s a topic for another day.

What I love to do is use this middle position I occupy to introduce the two sides to each other and the things that are important to both. Shooting is the one I think I’ve done the best at.

A friend of ours is getting married soon and mercifully, she excused us from having to drag two small children to the festivities. We’ll be there in spirit but in actuality, well be at the beach with sand in our collective pants. At least Short Stack will, at any rate. She’s a very sweet person for realizing that this will work better for the kiddos and their parents. One evening not too long ago, she and another mutual friend came up with the idea of a bridal shower shootout. She wanted to get some girlfriends together before the wedding and go shooting. Now, all she needed was access to a range, guns and some instruction.

Enter, the gun nut.

While I probably have enough rifles to outfit the average Victorian era expedition to darkest Borneo, I am limited by range rules to bringing only four guests with me, and so, the four were selected: the Bride to be, my wife, our mutual friend, and the bride’s sister-in-law. This was going to be a hoot.

Only one snag was encountered. Action Girl (my wife) works hard hours. She’s a sea captain by trade and the hours that go along with that profession can be a bit harsh. The day before had been a twelve hour shift and most of it had involved fog. The next day, she didn’t have to go in until the afternoon, but the possibility of running in more fog looked likely. That can really take it out of a girl. With much gnashing of teeth and hemming and hawing, she elected to get more sleep in preparation of a long night ahead rather than blowing stuff up with guns. I was sad that she wasn’t going to attend, but I understood as well. There will be another time with just the two of us, coffee mugs, pastries and a couple of Mausers. That’s what I call a romantic date. *sigh*

We picked up the ladies and headed out to the field. In addition to the firearms, I had come prepared with a thermos of freshly perked coffee and about five hundred rounds of ammunition. Come to think of it, it might have been more like eight hundred.

We arrived nice and early and had our pick from the many ranges. I found one of the smaller, fifty yard ones that I knew we would fill with our group. I had visions of shooting at the larger ranges and having other gents on the line seeing me there with three ladies all to my self and wanting to “help me out”. I could imagine that getting… uncomfortable. I’m good friends with at least two of these nice ladies and didn’t think any of them would especially like enthusiastic assistance from just anyone down there toting a rifle and a high caliber smile. Woman at the range are few and far between and I thought that it might be just too tempting for some of the boys. With a range to our selves, the potential problem was averted.

The day was perfect for shooting. The sky was overcast but not gloomy. The temperature was warm, but not hot and the morning dew had almost completely evaporated off the benches. I opened the case and pulled out three .22 rifles. Two of them were mine and one belonged to our friend who cooked this up with the bride. Her rifle had belonged to her grandmother and it’s a beautiful Mossberg 42MB(a) target rifle and it’s in beautiful shape. She actually has a picture of Grandma competing at a shooting match with two other friends. Go Grammie! The other two rifles were my Savage made, single shot .22 that my Father’s dad gave me for my birthday when I was ten and the Springfield .22 single shot that my Mother’s father had been given for Christmas when he was eight.

All three rifles were laid out on a bench and I began the safety talk. Once that was covered and ears were plugged, the first shot was taken by, naturally, the bride to be. I had set an empty paper cup on the berm for zeroing in. I find that if you have folks shoot at an object on a dirt hill, they often have an easier time figuring out what they are doing and how to compensate. The flying dirt is a good indicator where you are hitting versus simply knowing that you misses the paper target on the stand.

CRACK!

The first shot was taken and I heard the unmistakable sound of paper being punched. A quick peek through the spotting scope and a sound that is not often heard at the range broke out. Happy girl squeals. This was the first time that our soon-to-be-married friend had ever fired a rifle and on her initial try, she had hit a paper cup from the standing position at fifty yards . Not too freakin’ bad! She was thrilled!

Soon after, we were all having a great time making little holes in bits of paper. Everyone was having success as well as fun. I didn’t get to shoot much, but that was fine. I get a kick out of introducing shooting to people who normally wouldn’t go near a fire arm and watching the them realize how safe and fun it is. The sister-in-law had never shot before, but was doing fine and having a kick. I knew that she has two young daughters and I brought up the fact that one manufacturer makes a .22 rifle with a chrome barrel and pink stock. She thought that was a great idea and told me how much her older girl would love it.

After a few hours and a lot of ammo, we headed home, happy and black fingered. Each lady kept their targets as souvenirs and the bride had her lucky cup as well. She insisted that it would somehow get worked into the reception. I almost regret not being there, just so I could see that. It was a great morning and I only wish Action Girl could have been there too. Next time, I hope. In the mean time, I have a lot of rifles to clean, but I don’t mind that one bit. It was a blast. Some day, perhaps Lulu Belle can join us shooting, with her little pink rifle slug stylishly on her shoulder. I wonder if Coach makes a sling for that?

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Jellyfish and Girls

As I wrote last week, we all went down to Beantown for a weekend a little while ago for some fun. This was our son, Short Stack’s second time there. The last time, about a year ago, he spent much of the trip strapped to my Wife’s back and being amazed at the snow falling or making grown men in grey suits act like idiots for him. He has that effect. Parents always prattle on about how that their kid is special some how. Especially cute, funny, smart, enlightened, etc. Well, I’m here to validate that. That is to say, babies have a power over us that is amazing. The reason is because they are totally uninhibited and will happily (and I mean this literally. They are just plain happy) do things just to get a reaction of some sort out of passers by. What makes baby-uninhibitedness so appealing is that you know that it comes directly from who they are. If you’re human, and have actually noticed the world around you, then you will likely find this very engaging.

At the time of our last visit, when riding on the T or going down an escalator, Short Stack loved to pick out some serious looking business-type person, someone who was vehemently ignoring the world… and smile at him. Not a regular smile, mind you. This is like when you used to take a magnifying glass and fry ants in the sun. Imagine a smile being used like that. Not simply being flashed at you but actually burning its way through your protective, thick city armor until you are helpless in it’s grip. Short Stack is a master at this and within scant seconds he would have someone who was likely a senior VP of somethingorother making goo-goo faces at him. It was very fun to watch.

This time around, Short Stack is bigger. He’s nearly two now and has other things on his mind. Fish generally. Jellyfish specifically. Boston has a great aquarium and we couldn’t wait to take him there. Much of the two hours spent there was on my shoulders. When your world view is mostly made up of kneecaps and handbags, it’s important to get as high up as possible. The hands down winner for him was watching the jellyfish tank full of moon jellies. Their mesmerizing swimming really caught his fancy. That, and the tank went from the floor, up so he could see while standing on his own two feet.

At times, the crowds would thin and he’d get to walk at his own pace, safe from getting knocked over or lost in a forest of legs. During one of his solo runs “off the leash” if you will, he happily trotted down a ramp and came face to face with… a two-ish little girl. Now, this was the interesting part to watch. Here I am, standing about 10 feet behind him and there’s the other dad standing about the same distance behind his daughter. There’s about 10 feet between Short Stack and her and they both stop cold. It immediately reminded me of a western shoot out. All we needed were tumbleweeds. After a few seconds of sizing up, the little girl ran up to Short Stack… and hugged him. I mean, REALLY hugged him… and then ran off. It was a drive by hugging. Short Stack was rooted to the spot, eyes big, arms at his side. He had been hugged! The father gave me an uncomfortable look and said something to his daughter about saving hugs for mama, but I thought it was hilarious. I scooped up Short Stack and told him that this was only the very beginning of being confused by girls. “You gotta watch ’em.”

Not that it will help you any!

We hit the gift shop before we left and being who he is and considering how warped his folks are, he bypassed every cute and cuddly stuffed animal penguin, seal or otter and wend directly for the plush jellyfish. He was shortly made the proud owner of a nice plush jelly with 10 inch tentacles and an fuzzy bell. Very nice.

It lives in his bed and he is often found clutching it in the morning. The lesson here, I suppose is that jellyfish are easier to figure out than girls. Jellies will swim around, eat fish, sting the other stuff if you let them, and according to Short Stack, go “Blooop, Blooop, Blooop” as they go on their merry way. All in all, you can trust them to just be jellyfish. Girl’s on the other hand… Well… I’ll help him the best I can but you just don’t know what they’ll do or when they’ll do it. The only thing you can really bank on is that girls rarely go “Blooop, Blooop, Blooop” as they sneak up on you, so you gotta stay vigilant. Otherwise, who knows when the next hugging could hit.

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