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The young lady — disappointingly on the right — is against guns. Surprise! She’s never touched one. I can relate. Thanks to my anti-gun Mom, “gun free” liberal community and Quaker school, the first real gun I touched was an Uzi machine gun at an Atlanta gun range, fired in my first year out of college. Big fun! But it wasn’t until I got to grips with a pistol — a Browning Buckmark — that I “got it.” I suddenly understood that I was in control of the gun. That it was entirely up to me what it did and didn’t do. And that I was responsible enough to be responsible with it (i.e. safe). I know that sounds weird, but we’re talking about overcoming decades of indoctrination. Do you remember the first time you shot a gun? How old were you? What was your initial reaction? Were you safe?

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  1. ymca camp echo in michigan. i was either side of ten, and when i saw riflery as an activity i was all over it. i wish i knew for sure what make they were, but the rifles were .22lr single shot bolt actions, fired from prone. awesome.

  2. 1984, I was in 7th grade, my dad took me to Gilbert’s Small Arms Range in…Springfield, VA, I think? I was excited enough afterwards that he bought a membership and we went many times the next few years until we left VA to move to Germany. Fortunately the base had an outdoor range and we were able to keep it up. My love of shooting has only grown from then to today. Wish my dad was still around so I could take him shooting now…

  3. 6 or 7. Mossberg bolt action 410. I don’t really remember having a positive or negative reaction. I wanted to start hunting in the woods on our farm, and that was the tool my father gave me to do that.

  4. Glock at my brother’s property in high school. Also got to shoot an ar15, mp5 rifle clone, and a 50bmg. Always interested in guns but that sealed the deal.

  5. Military qualification. Air Force in 1964. The ‘I like this’ moment. Now I have my CCL more then 5 years, an AR-15, Mossberg 500, and five pistols. That first time was special!!!

  6. 12 years old, Boy Scouts of America – Ruger 10/22. Yes, they made sure i learned safety. I think that was half the point. I of course got my Marksmanship merit badge and went on to compete.

    …but I always had some kind of gun in my hand from the time I was about 5 (cap guns, dart guns, bb guns, etc). I have a picture (that my Mother and I laugh about) of me at about 5 with my favorite six shooters (cap guns) holstered on my side. I always had some new favorite ‘gun’, and usually with me… so it really started much earlier.

  7. 1997, I was six years old shooting my stepdad’s ancient single shot bolt action .22 under close supervision by him and my mom, I also got to put a few rounds through mama’s old .38. Been hooked ever since

  8. In the single digits, home on the farm, with Dad and his Remington Sportmaster bolt .22, which had been a post-war Xmas present from Mom. My own first piece was a Sears mail-order single-shot bolt .410. Dad liked that model because the safety automatically reset when the bolt was worked. Trying to learn to hit pheasants with that thing took a while. Not a lot of shot in the load.

  9. 18 years old with a Glock 19 with my dad. Honestly, I didn’t really care for it then. It was after the talks of an “assault weapons” ban after Sandy Hook when I “got it”.

  10. I was 8 or 9. My Fudd-turned-anti dad dug his old Mossberg 22 target rifle out of the closet while he was cleaning. Let me hold it, look down the sights, and back in the closet it went. First time shooting I was 12. Bolt action 22s at 50 feet at the Forestburg Scout Reservation. The same crotchety old ‘Nam vet is RSO there till this very day.

  11. Back in the 1960’s-must have 8 or 9. Dad’s 22bolt action and the coolest 22six gun.Can’t remember the make of the revolver. At the NRA range near Kankakee,IL. Used to go to gun shows at the Civic auditorium in Kankakee too. Also shotgun(probably 410) in the Boy Scouts. Didn’t really register at all.

  12. First time was 1979, I was 10 years old and my father took me out and showed me all the gun basics and rules. As I look back I realize that not only was that first gun outing a lesson on gun safety and mechanics but also a philosophical talk about what it means to own a gun. My father instilled in me the first embers of the 2nd Amendment and the importance of my choice to exercise that right. After that Saturday afternoon he bought me my first gun a Savage/Stevens 12guage pump W/ribbed barrel and honeycomb pump grip. I was now allowed to come bird hunting with the men. I was not even a teen, yet I felt real adult responsibility for the first time as my father handed me my first Firearm. I relished it, and still do to this day. ??????

  13. Cub Scouts. Grade school. They put a single shot .22 in my hands and I immediately “got it”. It just felt right. I was splitting playing cards by the end of the day.

  14. First hold.:)
    I was eleven visiting my uncle in Cali. He handed me his father’s Henry from the Gold Rush.
    I couldn’t lift the barrel off the floor! 🙂

    First time was later. Here I am enjoying this wild ride of responsibility, training, education, citizenship and politics.

  15. 1963 in Yamhill Oregon.

    I was about 9 years old.

    Dad had just been given Grandpa’s 151K Mossberg. Grandpa had just returned from a decade-long assignment in Brazil, and since we lived on a ranch, and he lived in a city apartment, the gun became Dad’s.

    The rifle had probably sat idle since it left a St. Paul Minnesota Sporting goods store in 1951. After 12 years in the jungle, something had happened to that Kleanbore ammo. As I recall, the box was in tatters and Dad had dumped the contents into an Alka Seltzer bottle. (I still have that bottle and use it for the same purpose).

    Dad gave me some brief instruction and handed the rifle to me. I did as I was told and aimed at a stump. It was very cool when the rifle went full-auto and spit out a dozen slugs in less than a second. I had no clue that wasn’t supposed to happen.

    For more than 50 years, I thought that it was all the ammo’s fault, until I came across a similar Mossberg 151K on Gunbroker a few years back. It had obviously suffered less than judicious care over the years, but I wanted to try it out NOW. It was balking a bit at the Remington Thunderbolts, and would fail to feed properly about half the time. Then, with about half a magazine left, it went full auto – just like I remembered from half a century ago!

    After a thorough cleaning, and proper reassembly (the magazine tube was not installed quite right) I fed it something different (and higher quality) than Thunderbolts.

    Worked great – Just like a Singer sewing machine (non-full auto, of course) .

    Really brought back the vision of my Dad in his ever present Stetson, down by the creek, teaching the 4 rules to me. That was before Cooper even codified those rules.

  16. Mostly obedient little high school brats there, they went to wikipedia and scratched down stuff (except for the guy who seems only to be there to hang out with the girls). Pro gun girl obviously put more thought into her arguments, however she still was happy to say ” they need to make sure guns are in the right hands”, which is pretty much just the party line for gun control.

    Which one of these kiddies do you think will be most successful in life?

    What I see is kids who should be encouraged to think and test and do things for themselves, being lectured to by leftists and taught to recite back a list of talking points. No wonder they hate school so much, I don’t blame them. They should all be at the range with experienced instructors.

  17. First gun I ever fired was a distant uncle’s Colt Gold Cup National Match 1911 when I was 13. I grouped all over the target at 7 yards, but handled the recoil surprisingly well. Growing up in NJ made owning guns extremely difficult, so I only got to go shooting once a year at a rental range in Florida until I got my FID card five months after I applied on my 18th birthday, yeah NJ really sucks. The first gun I bought was a Steyr M95 carbine for $125 because Austrian heritage, then grandpa bought a Mauser K98k for me and the collecting hobby took off like a rocket. I found TTAG some time in 2010 or 2011 which has transformed me from gun owner to proud 2nd Amendment advocate. Watching this site grow has been cool, and its nice still seeing comments from Ralph, jwm, etc who’ve been here forever.

  18. I’m envious of all of you who have been shooting from an early age.
    Being in/from NJ my first gun was a BB gin in my mid teens. I had no one to teach me safety or marksmanship so I treated it as a toy. Ended up with a BB half way through my hand.
    After that I didn’t touch another gun until the military where I did learn safety and marksmanship.
    After the military it would be another 20+ years before I picked up another gun.
    Now I own several and shoot almost every week, still stuck in NJ though so it can be a pain.

  19. Ruger 10/22 when I was 9 or 10. I shot an air rifle before that, which is probably what did it.

  20. Eight years old in the mid-fifties. My grandfather took me to a shooting gallery in Coney Island. The rifle loaded through a tube in the stock, but I don’t remember the make or model. I could see that the front sight was “accidentally” bent, so I didn’t use it. I don’t remember missing a shot.

  21. 8 years old, Mossberg .22 bolt action on the shooting range on our farm. My brother, 4 years old, also got to shoot. Both under the supervision of my Dad, an avid hunter and shooter.

    Shortly after that experience, as my brother and I clamored for more shooting, Dad brought us home two Remington youth model, single shot .22 rifles that he horse-traded from a friend at work.

    When I was 12 and my brother was 8, we both picked berries at the local farms and did other chores to earn the money to each buy a Savage/Stevens, break action, single shot 20 gauge. The local FFL (a friend of my Dad’s) ordered them for us and gave us dealer’s cost. Mom brought us to his gas station to pick them up when they arrived – no paperwork, no signatures, just a handshake and a “Take care and be safe, boys!” Those were $35 each. I still have my .22 and my 20 gauge. Unfortunately, Dad went to the great hunting grounds a few years ago.

  22. I remenber it very well. I was five. It was a Remington 121 .22RF pump. My Dad taught me. I inherited that gun after his death. It would be the last gun I would ever part with. Yes, I am a lucky man.
    Later, when I could hit something, he took me out gopher hunting. We went over and looked at the first gopher I killed. That .22 HP turned him inside out. That one moment alone taught me that guns are not toys.
    Too bad most liberals are denied such basic education. They would deny the basics of life to children, and yet expect them NOT to be ignorant. Its almost like we should beam up, as there is no intelligent life here.

  23. Learned to shoot a BB gun when I was six, got my very own one at seven and then around eight or nine learned how to shoot a .22 rifle.

    • Same here Dev, then i had the most fun with a m 60 in the Engineer’s much later. Cold war and all.

    • I was 12. Best friends older brother handed me a Smith&Wesson model 29 loaded with HOT .357 rounds. The concussion was awesome! And scary. I only fired it twice. I ran some .38’s through it later that day.

      I was 16 before I shot another gun. Bought a H&R .32magnum revolver from another kid at my school. (Mid 90’s) bought a 12ga pump shortly after that. I had several firearms from then until shortly after my first child was born. Pawned them all for grocery money. It was another 10 years before I owned another firearm. Bought a .38 special shortly after a crazy dude shot up a movie theater.

      • The model 29 is a 44 mag. It was my first pistol. Clint Eastwood aka Dirty Harry was my idol!

  24. My mom introduced me to shooting, first with a BB gun after I learned and recited the 4 rules of gun safety probably about 8, then a little later with a 22 maybe when I was 10. Then with a Stevens straight pull shotgun that winter where she taught me how to skin a pheasant.

  25. 13 years old, Boy Scouts camp D-BAR-A in Michigan. Bolt-action single shot .22s. Can’t remember if that was before or after the Scout master had his ill-advised idea to take a bunch of 11-13 year-olds on an overnight forced march through the snow, but that’s a story for another time.

  26. Jeez, I can’t even really remember. I could not have even been 9, because when I was 9 my folks enrolled me in a Boys Club rifle safety course, and I had been shooting for a couple of years – at least – at that time. Probably started on a Stevens .22/.410 my dad bought for my mom, shooting the .22.

    I do remember the first time I shot the .410; I was about 11 or 12 and I hit the can I was aiming at, but thought it really kicked. Missed the next couple of shots. I couldn’t imagine what the 12 gauge would do to me, but by the time I was 14 Dad had me shooting pretty much everything we had, long & handguns.

    My dad was a hunter & firm believer in handguns as a self defense option, so guns were a part of life as long as I can remember. None of the guns ever did anything we didn’t ask them to do…

  27. Remington 742 chambered in 6mm remington. 8-10 years old. on the family farm. Was hooked ever since. I made it my personal goal to learn as much about guns as I possibly could.

  28. Camp Salesian, summer of ’72. I was 13. A .22 rifle of some kind. Fell in love with the smell of burnt powder.

  29. Around 6 years old. Dad was an instructor across the highway from Miramar NAS, (later to become the top gun school). Got to shoot everything!
    But I remember liking the old .22 Springfield bolt gun most. You could hit anything with it.

    • Those old training Springfields got surplussed out. Quite a few of them wound up on farms in WVA and KY. They were built to train military people on and they were full sized rifles for a .22.

      We were young with young eyes then. But you spoke the truth. Me and my brother could hit anything we saw with one of those.

  30. Anti gun Dad finally got sick of my whining about guns when I was about 10, mid ’50s, and brought home a single barrel 12 gauge, might have figured It’d knock me on my ass and I’d be over it! A shotgun was not what I wanted, and the whining only slowed down until I got a Marlin “golden Crown” bolt action single shot .22. Didn’t know nuthin’ about ranges, we went out in the woods, or to deserted beaches. Dad supervised, did not participate. I was in heaven, cannot imagine why I ever parted with it, other than I bought myself a Winchester Model 77 .22 auto when I was 13, and a Weaver 4X scope, so I didn’t need it. Father was never much fun on the subject, but he worked with me. Also when I was 13 he (a Navy officer) arranged for a Marine Gunny to let me show up at the range (I think that was my first time at a range) and get some *really* expert instruction (I think that was my first instruction of any kind). He put me in a sling, prone, and gave me some trigger time on an M1 Garand, at 700 yards, and adjusted the sights for me until I was smacking 9s and 10s. As we left, he told me the Marines had a place for men who could shoot like I could. I think even my dad was impressed, he was much more cooperative after that.

  31. Despite growing up in very gun friendly rural MI, my first time was when I was 19, shooting clays at my buddy’s farm Thanksgiving Day (we kept a tradition of shooting clays on Thanksgiving Day for a few years, until life and family obligations broke that up). I went and bought a Remington 870 the next day, and still shoot with the guy that brought me out the first time (and, ocassionally, at the same farm).

  32. My first experience was a Crossman .22 single shot pellet CO2 target pistol that I got for Christmas when I was eleven or twelve (if I recall correctly). Later my brother got a .22 pellet CO2 five shot “10 Meter Olympic Target” rifle with a five or six shot rotating clip advanced with a pump action. [It was no fun shooting at 30′ because the rifle was so accurate.] I think that my first experience shooting a cartridge firearm was a Ruger .22 SAA style revolver in 1980 . Couldn’t hit much of anything. I don’t remember when I bought my first gun, a Savage bolt action .22LR, but that gave me the bug, and soon there was a 12 gauge Wingmaster(which I’ve since given to my son who was far better with it than I ever was), and a string of cartridge and black powder pistols soon followed.

  33. I was 14 in 2003 when my dad took me out with my cousins and uncles to shoot in the woods.

    I shot my dad’s S&W model 41 and my gulf war vet cousin let me shoot his M9. I loved them both and my misconceptions of “guns being bad” went away from growing up in a liberal city (bay area)

    I started getting more into guns after a friend in college invited me to the city range and we shot for a bit. Got into 2A rights shortly thereafter and became a gun owner in 2013 with a 92FS.

  34. I can’t remember a time when there wasn’t a loaded 12 gauge and a single shot break open .22 with bird shot next to the front door and a 9 shot .22 H&R (that I still have) and Grandma’s .38 Bull Dog in a drawer in the end table next to it.

    And no, I don’t remember when I first shot a gun.

  35. If you count a BB gun, then I saved money and bought my own when I was 11 years old. Slew thousands of grasshoppers in the backyard with it.

    An actual powder-burning firearm, the first time was a combination Hunter’s Safety course and Rifleman merit badge at a Boy Scouts camp when I was 13. Other kids went out and played on the lake or did I dunno what — I was at the rifle range every spare moment all week shooting those bolt-action single-shot .22’s. It was the funnest thing ever.

    Didn’t shoot again for a long, long time, but when I bought my own .22 rifle about six years ago, the fun came back all at once.

  36. Up until my 20’s I was an ignorant girl like the one on the right in the video (the anti-gun girl). I grew up in a gun free home and there was no way anyone was ever going to come home with a gun. So I was aloof and stupid and naive when it came to guns.

    My first time shooting was a guy I was dating in my 20s, and the first handgun I ever shot was a .44 magnum, so I skipped the lesser calibers and went straight to heavy metal. A short while later I bought my first rifle, a .22lr (ruger 10-22) and I loved it.

    A few years later I wasn’t dating him anymore, I sold everything and sort of went back to where I was before, but always deep down I thought about getting my gun license. A few years ago, I got licensed bought my first handgun and have not looked back. I even went so far as to give the ‘scary black guns’ a try and I found I really love them. Now guns don’t scare me anymore. I’m a lot smarter now and have even spent the money to get properly trained.

    Just remember there is hope for an ill informed anti-gun person and don’t judge too harshly because I used to be one until I saw the light.

  37. I was about 8 or 9 when my dad took me to an old WPA lake in rural Oklahoma for an afternoon of shooting. I’d had the ubiquitous bb guns and, by then, had pretty much absorbed his lessons in gun safety but this was my first time to shoot a “real” gun—in this case an old Remington .22 bolt action. I still have the nickel I hit. What was more important than shooting the guns was the day itself. To this day i remember it like it was yesterday.

  38. I was probably 9ish. I told my mom I wanted to learn to shoot a gun. If I wanted to try something, my mom did her best to make it happen. I can’t tell you what the impetus was except that I was kinda nerdy and was always reading the Encyclopedia Britannica (yeah, pre-, pre-internet days) my parents had gotten for me, so maybe I read about guns there, I dunno. The only gun in the house at the time was my Dad’s hunting shotgun (nothing special, a Savage 775a semi-auto which I still have), and my mom didn’t keep shells around after he died. She told me it didn’t work, but I have no idea if that was true or not. Anyway, she took me to the local gun range, must’ve paid for a couple of hours of range time and instruction from one of the ROs, because I learned the basics of gun safety and got to shoot .22 rifles and pistols. Was a good way to ease into shooting and I was always thankful for that.

    • A good set of encyclopaedias inherited from my grandfather got me all the way through High School, mostly straight “A”s too. Plus my short sightedness made me sit up the front of the class so I could read the blackboard. So I didn’t get into all the bad behavior going on at the back of the class. Nothing wrong with a good encyclopaedia.

  39. It was 1985, and I was 10 years old. My dad was stationed at Kadena Air Base in Okinawa. Some naval ships came to the island, and my Cub Scout/Webelos group got a tour of one of the ships. Some Marines had a table full of small arms to show us. They let a few of us who were bigger take some shots from an M16 into the ocean. That would so not happen nowadays, and I am a little surprised that it even happened then.

  40. Summer camp in Connecticut in 1976, with .22 rifles on a 50′ range, first time with a pistol was in 85, at a high school in New York. Hard to believe but before the SAFE act, even suburban schools had rifle teams and ranges. Then a long hiatus, until 2014 when I took the family shooting and finally bought my own rifle.

  41. I was 8 with an old Marlin/glenfield 60 shooting beer cans on a logging road. I didn’t get to touch another gun until I was 18 and my friends dad took me shooting on sunny sub freezing January day. His nylon 66, single six, 357 security six, his RedHawk 44 and then busting a few clays with his old wingmaster. That was one of those real blued 870 before they became soulless shotguns.

  42. What i see in these responses is some old farts like me that started shooting in the 1st Bow and Arrow Batallion. But what’s encouraging is the numbers of answers from folks that started shooting in the 1980’s and later.

    Puts the lie to, if it really needed putting, that gun owners are dying off and not being replaced.

  43. My grandpa had a glass gun safe. Always looked at them growing up. I started shooting archery when I was probably 8. My older cousin let me shoot his BB gun then grandpa got me my own for Christmas when I was maybe 11. I was 12 when o shot real firearms. After hunters safety the local shooting club had a youth day, I shot a .410, 20, and 12 gauge(almost got nocked over when I shot the 12 ga. and that is what hooked me on guns), a .22 single shot bolt gun, and a traditional muzzleloader. When I was 13 I shot a .243 and a .308 before deer hunting. Wasn’t actually pro gun rights until after sandy hook.

  44. I was about 8. My mother took me out to a local caliche pit and taught me to shoot with a Remington #6 rolling block single action. Years later I was given the gun and found it had never been cleaned. It took me hours to get the multy year accumulations of lead out of the barrel. 3/4’s of the way down the barrel was a bulge that was there before I ever fired it.

  45. January 2012, I rented a sig sauer p226 on the suggestion of the range clerk, wanted to try a beretta, but she insisted the sig was better for a first timer. Liked so much that when I got my tax money I went out and bought my first, an FN FNS .40, got my concealed carry permit shortly after and my collection is up to 5 lol

  46. Age seven. Dad took me and my two brothers out to the old family farm, where he let us each fire off one shot with his BSA .22 single shot bolt action. My older brother got five shots, which was cause for some jealousy. My eyesight didn’t let me even see the target, much less where my shot went. Later at 13, a cousin took me rabbit hunting with his double barrel 12 gauge, but again, I never saw what he told me to aim at. I don’t recall any recoil… Many, many years later I had cataract surgery in both eyes, and my replacement lenses let me see properly for the first time in my life. I took up target shooting at a local range, after going through the licensing process necessary in New Zealand. I discovered it was a lot of fun, and like others, the smell of burning gunpowder is addictive. My Dad let me know that real guns weren’t toys, unlike the toy Winchesters he gave us for Christmas one year. I have never been tempted to perforate any other human being, though I am subject to the same pressures and imperfections as the rest of us. I feel safe using my guns.

  47. BB gun at 5 yrs old – a Daisy Pal. Dad was right there with me so everything was safe. First real gun was my uncle’s Ruger Blackhawk .357 mag. I was 9 yrs old and we shot at the range he had a membership to. I’m still hoping I will inherit that gun- all 5 bullets(range rules) into 1″ at 25 yards. Only non-safe part was when the teenager next to me with the SKS started showering me with hot brass.

  48. At the lake with Grandad’s semi-auto .22 Winchester 190. This must have been my eighth trip around the Sun. I was given the safety rules and if they were broken I wouldn’t touch the rifle again that year. I was allowed to handle the rifle as much as I liked. The ammo was kept under guard and given out under supervision. Many cans have since met their doom.

  49. First gun I fired was last year and it was a Charter Arms Pathfinder .22 revolver and I was quite safe

  50. My buddies dad owned a cabin up in the Catskills and they invited me up for the weekend. They kept a pump action 12GA around for bears and whatever. After a bit of begging he let us set up a few cans and shoot a couple rounds. No idea what it was, but at 8-9 the thing kicked like a bitch! Didn’t shoot again for almost 25 years. I can’t believe I wasted so much time.

  51. It was hot, oily, explosive, and I loved it so much that I’m always trying to do it some more.

  52. Learned to shoot on a Marlin .22 at age 46 at Scout Camp (Assistant Scoutmaster to my son’s Troop.). Have enjoyed firearms since them. I now own several – and my son is an Eagle Scout. He earned the merit badge!

  53. For me I was 19 back in 2006. One day I had a thought pop in my head where I realized I could buy a gun now. Unlike the vast majority of posters here I didn’t grow up in an environment around guns living in a high density surburban environment in an anti-gun state no less. My only exposure was through video games, playing make believe with the neighborhood kids, or at best a BB gun which like a poster said above I treated more as a toy than a gateway to getting a real gun. Airsoft was the closest thing to being able to handle and feel what a real gun was like.

    Since my interest in guns stemmed from military history my first one had to be of a military pedigree. I was talked into a Portuguese Mauser 1904/38 by my first FFL I ever bought from. My first time shooting it was at a private range that was open to the public on weekends. From there I was hooked. I later traded up to an SKS and my collection grew exponentially since then now 10 years later.

  54. 20 ga double barrel Fox, 5yo, at a quail on the ground with my Dad, Uncle, and cousins. At 7, my grandmother taught me to shoot a rifle, a pump .22, and at 10, she taught me to shoot a revolver, her EDC Colt .45. At 12, my Dad got me a Ruger 10/22, and got us a Ruger Redhawk .44mag to protect us in tight brush while hunting bears and boars with our new Remington Model Four and old Winchester .30-30 lever action. Shooting that .44 was when I really “got it”. My 10/22 was stolen from my apt. in college, and my mom has the .45 as her house gun (she carries a .38 special revolver). I still have all the rest, including the .44. The first gun I bought was a CZ 75-SP-01 Shadow (my current EDC and main pistol). My wife carries a P-01, and we have a pair of 12ga pumps on each side of the bed.

  55. First gun I shot was a 10 gauge shotgun at 7 years old. All I really remember about the gun was it was a single shot as heavy as all get out. I managed to keep the barrel off the ground long enough to fire it twice. It kicked like a mule to my small body and I learned about keeping a good shoulder meld that day. First firearm I bought was a Winchester model 94 in .30-30 in 1983, carried it from the sporting goods store through the mall and out to the car slung over my shoulder and with 3 boxes of 150 grain bullets in my other hand. Nobody batted an eye.

  56. My father had guns, and our family had no problems with the idea, but he died when I was 4 and mother didn’t keep any of his guns. When I was 18, my new husband decided to “let” me shoot his 30-06 rifle. No instructions beyond roughly how to hold it. No idea what the recoil might be… so it hurt me a LOT, and he laughed. The miracle is that I didn’t develop a hate for guns right there.

    But I did manage to overcome it and got a .410 shotgun to deal with the varmints on the little farm, eventually learning to shoot an old Marlin 30-30 we got from a friend. I never had any formal training then, but somehow the “rules” were pretty much instinctive. Never had any NDs anyway.

    Twenty years later, I had to shoot a man to save my life. The .410 was still the only gun I owned at the time, but that experience gave me the incentive to learn more, and buy different guns.

    So I can’t really say when I “got it,” but I’ve had it for a long, long time.

  57. My Mom’s Dad bought me a spring action Daisy for my 8th birthday. Mom: “He’ll shoot his eye out!” Granddad: “Did you birth an idiot? He’ll be fine.” Built a range in the basement. Could shatter a Life Saver at 7 yards. Family was not big on guns at all, in fact we lived in a progressive suburb where guns were illegal for a short period of time, until the State Supreme Court slapped that law down.

    12 years old went to Boy Scout Camp. They taught us the 4 Laws, shot a watermelon so we could see what happens when liquid filled objects (like hands) get hit, gave us bolt action .22LRs with 5 rounds each and a target downrange, and said “Commence firing.”

    I felt it immediately. It was a quarter for each wooden block with 5 rounds. I did the other boys’ chores for quarters. Took their written merit badge tests for them, for quarters. Spent every hour I could on the range.

    Left Scouting because I needed a job. Didn’t shoot much until I was married and moved to the country. Bought a Ruger MkII. Still have that one, and my old Daisy. Unfortunately, all the other firearms I collected were lost in a boating accident. 🙁

  58. I was 5 or 6, my dad let me shoot a .22 short pistol. It was loudest gun I have ever heard I think my ears are still ringing. I got my first .410 shotgun at age 11.

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