It occurred to me that lately many of my blog scribblings have been about guns. I’m not apologizing. It’s my blog and what is posted here is completely up to me. But I feel I owe an explanation to my imaginary reader (yes, imaginary; because let’s face it, if you’re an actual human and are reading this you probably landed here by mistake).
Back in 2012, my dad passed away. Prior to that he had named me as his executor, and part of my job was to make sure his possessions were fairly distributed to his heirs. One of the granddaughters (my niece) expressed interest in obtaining his handgun, a Colt 1911 Lightweight Commander. But being the executor, and his oldest surviving child and only son, I claimed the gun for myself even though I had no experience with and hardly any knowledge of firearms (also I didn’t trust her with the gun). I knew Dad was fond of it, and that was enough for me to keep it as a family heirloom.
I kept the gun stored in a closet in its nylon pouch for four years until 2016 when I decided it was time for me to learn how to shoot. Frankly, having lived in the woods most of my life I’m astonished it took me so long to tumble to the thought that knowing how to shoot might be useful out here. Then again, I’ve always been slow.
Mrs. Sigmadog was already familiar with guns, coming from a gun family and having been around them all her life, but she agreed that she could use some brushing up on her knowledge.
So we signed up for an “Intro to Handguns” class at a local range.
That was where I learned about the proper operation and handling of my dad’s Colt 1911. It was also where I fired it for the first time. In fact that was my first time firing any hand gun.
I wasn’t sure what to expect. I thought the recoil would be significant considering the gun used fairly large rounds (.45 caliber, nearly a half-inch in diameter).
After half a day of instruction on safety, operation and handling, we all went into the range for live fire training.
For our first shot, our instructor had us load only one round into our guns. A small 4x6 card was taped to the cardboard target at a distance of only five feet. One by one, he went from student to student having us take aim and observing our grip and stance before giving us the command to slowly squeeze the trigger.
I was excited when it was my turn. I sighted-in the card, gripping the gun in a two-handed isosceles stance. The instructor stood beside me, observed my grip and gave me the go-ahead to squeeze the trigger.
I slowly began pressing my finger against the trigger, wondering how it would feel, when suddenly…
Wow! There was a solid but not overpowering push as the gun recoiled. It felt to me as if I were holding a hammer tightly and instead of swinging the hammer to the wood, the wood had swung up to the hammer. The impact was much like that. There was a not-unpleasant smell of burnt powder from the shot, and my ear protection dulled the crack so there was no ringing in my ears.
I remember smiling as I set the empty gun down on the shelf in my stall. I remember thinking, “That wasn’t so bad at all! Hell! That was pretty cool!”.
And I remember my pleasure in seeing a hole directly in the center of the card (only five feet away, but not bad for a first shot).
We went through several drills that afternoon, culminating in a “shoot-off” to find the best shot in our class of nine. A 4x6 card was taped to the cardboard backing and seven times in unison we shot at our card at increasing distances, the final distance being thirty feet away.
Out of the class of nine, there was only one who hit the 4x6 card each and every time.
That person was me.
At that point, I can safely say that I was forever hooked on firearms.
Since then, I’ve spent lots of time looking into the world of guns, soaking in as much information as I can manage. And believe me, there’s a LOT of information out there. Some of it is even accurate.
I’ve decided (probably somewhat hastily, but so what?) that I like John Moses Browning’s 1911 design and its variations. Why? It’s an established firearm design with an amazing legacy, which aligns with my love of history. It’s made from metal and (usually) wood, which appeals to my sense of tradition. Also I like the way it shoots.
But perhaps my most compelling reason is sentimental: Shooting a 1911 reminds me of Dad.
That’s kind of strange since we never went shooting together when he was alive. We never even discussed guns except once when he hauled it out to show me, and I remember he seemed very proud of it even though I was completely ignorant of it or its history. But knowing he was interested in them makes me interested in them now, because I miss him. Shooting it is my way of apologizing for my earlier ignorance. It’s a small thing, an action I take to maintain a connection, however tenuous, to the old fart.
So that’s how I got into guns.
Having made the leap into gun culture, it’s impossible to ignore the politics of it, and so a significant part of my interest is also focused on efforts to maintain the freedom to “keep and bear arms”, which has been eroded considerably (but still not enough for some). This makes me very passionate about the Second Amendment, which is why I spend a lot of time posting about gun issues.