When I was learning to drive, I wasn’t allowed to get my driver’s license until I could drive a manual transmission, change a flat tire and check my own oil. When I was learning to shoot, my Dad insisted I knew how to operate the Chipmunk .22 before I was allowed to fire it. As a rough Navy vet, he told us that we have the responsibilities of a gun owner if we shoot the gun – meaning we are responsible for the bullet that leaves the barrel and we must care for the gun. I still remember . . .
being antsy and not listening as well as I should the first time he brought it out and was pointing out the parts. “Stock, bolt, barrel,” he instructed. Then, later, his constant question “what part is this?” Once Dad felt confident, we were allowed to shoot the little .22.
It was a few days after he’d introduced us to the gun. The suspense was killing me. I really wanted to know what it would be like to shoot and if I would like it. I know it’s not a normal eight year-old girl’s thought process, but I was intrigued. I’d already heard kids at school say that guns were bad. Why? Why were they bad? How bad were they?
Once the day arrived, I put on my pink framed glasses and some sunblock and went with my father to the piece of land where we were shooting. He’d already set up a target and it wasn’t far away. I felt awkward when he went over the four rules again and couldn’t help let “Blah blah blah, I already know, Dad” escape my mouth.
He shot one round. One. He gave a very short explanation of what he was doing, then handed me the gun unloaded. I had to load my rounds if I insisted on shooting them. That’s how it worked, he explained.
When I lined up my sights, I got nervous. I started shaking a little. I had no idea what to expect. But as I lowered the rifle, my father slowly stuck his hand out and lifted it back up. I knew I needed to shoot the gun. And I did. It was a feeling of absolute bliss. My dad stood still for the most part except to give me pointer here and there and we went through a lot of ammo. I still don’t know how many rounds he let me shoot before he got too tired and said we needed to get home.
To this day, I credit my father’s patience and dedication to the shooting sports for my love of guns. After that day, all I wanted to do was shoot and learn about guns. Of course I was only eight. I had no real need to be armed; I had my dad. But thanks to him and his lessons and the time he took to make sure I knew and was comfortable, the day I moved into my own apartment, I bought my own handgun.
So thank you, Dad, for your time and making me the woman I am today. Thank you for not only teaching me about courage but for showing me that giving up isn’t an option. All it took was that one round. One. And I was hooked.