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Ruger Single Six

By Jerrick Irby

I could hardly contain myself; the anticipation was overwhelming. It was a bright, sunny Saturday morning. The sun peeked through the canopy of surrounding oak trees as my Dad and I walked together in the woods. My shoes and pant legs were wet from the early morning dew. Irritated grasshoppers jumped as I passed by, flying a few feet ahead only to be disturbed again moments later. I followed nervously, half running, trying to keep pace with my Dad. How much further did we have to go? Would we have the place to ourselves? Would I make him proud? Countless other questions raced through my six year old mind .

A promise. A promise—made weeks earlier by my Dad—that I could shoot his .22lr revolver. Affirmation. Affirmation from my Dad that I was old enough, responsible enough, man enough to be entrusted with such an awesome responsibility.

After what seemed like an eternity, we exited the woods and walked into a small, rectangular clearing.  A shallow creek with only a trickle of water remaining from the summer heat snaked its way at the far end of the clearing. Beyond that, an earthen berm rose sharply from the banks, a single railroad track at its crest. This was, my Dad told me, the perfect place to shoot.

My heart was pounding. My only prior experience with firearms was shooting my Red Ryder BB gun at plastic army men in the backyard. This, however, was different. This time it was real. My Dad placed a half dozen aluminum cans near the bank of the creek.  Returning, he unzipped a small, triangular shaped case as I anxiously watched.

There it was in all of its glory! My Dad’s .22lr Ruger Single Six revolver, complete with leather holster, waiting patiently for me. My Dad checked the cylinder, reminded me of the Four Rules of Gun Safety, and handed me the revolver. It was heavy! The sun reflected brightly off the chrome cylinder and barrel. I squeezed the smooth wood grips tightly, fearful that I might accidently let the revolver slip. My Dad showed me how to advance the cylinder, how to align the sights, and how to cock the single-action hammer. I was fascinated by the revolver’s mechanics and how everything worked in sync.

Satisfied that I had familiarized myself with the revolver and the Four Rules, my Dad broke open a small box of .22lr ammunition and handed me six rounds. I slowly loaded the revolver, taking care not to drop one of the .22lr rounds. I stood there for a moment, my six year old mind taking it all in. I looked to my Dad for direction. Could I shoot? He smiled down at me—likely reflecting on years past when my Granddaddy brought him here—and nodded for me to take a shot.

My arms trembled as I pressed the revolver forward, struggling to keep the barrel steady and find an aluminum can within the revolver’s sights. I carefully pulled back the hammer, the cylinder advancing forward one spot. My mind raced: hold it steady, don’t touch the trigger until you’re ready, easy does it—BOOM!

I can still hear the sound of the first shot. The crack of the diminutive .22lr round caught me by surprise. It was the first time I had ever heard a gunshot, much less actually been the one doing the shooting. I don’t recall if I hit a can with that first shot (or any subsequent shots for that matter) or how long we stayed. But I do remember the faint, lingering smoke, the acrid smell of lead and gunpowder blending together, and the satisfaction of shooting my first real gun. That and my Dad grinning with pride.

Many years have passed since my Dad took me shooting for the first time. Since then I’ve shot countless rounds from many firearms. Most instances, while always enjoyable, were ordinary and unremarkable. That’s to be expected, I suppose. Not much can compete with the first time your dad took you shooting.

Now, a father myself, I look forward to that bright, sunny morning in the woods when I look behind and see a little boy, shoes and pants wet from dew, half-running behind me as we head to the berm.

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  1. Tears? No. Allergies man.

    Or onion ninjas.

    I didn’t have a dad to help me shoot. I had friend’s dads.

    This story is cool though!

    • Yeah me, too. Don’t remember my first time that well. Or even when it happened. I remember many of these same feelings on most of our outings, though.

      Now I have a 4 year old that is increasingly interested in what in the world that gun thing is she’s seen on the odd occasion. Can’t wait to take her out someday.

  2. My older brothers had 22s and those were my first to shoot.
    But like wise my first purchase in my early twenties was a .22, a Ruger Single Six and then a Marlin 25.
    You had the awe because it was your first to shoot, mine was because it was the first that was mine.

    Jerrick, did your Dad let you shoot with the WMR cylinder, because that really gives quite a crack out of a six inch barrel?
    And did you get the Ruger?

    One other thing, I shot “tin” cans. Times change but not.

  3. Good story. I too had a dad with a .22revolver. I can’t tell you what brand but it was COOL shooting it. And dad’s .22bolt rifle. We went to the NRA range near Kankakee,Illinois. It and shooting a 20guage shotgun in the Boy Scouts was the extent of my maybe 12year old gun fun. No hunting but we occasionally went to gun shows in Kankakee. I also vividly remember American Rifleman in the house & a NRA sticker on the front door glass. I didn’t get into gun fun again until several years ago. From an OFWG.

  4. I remember my first trip into the woods with my dad. I had similar questions bouncing around my 8 yo cranium — the most pressing of which was, “Why didn’t I ‘go’ before I left the house?”

  5. Those were the days. My dad gave me my first gun, an old single shot .410 Ga. He took me hunting for cottontails and bobwhites, back in Indiana.
    Fond memories that will last forever.

  6. This would be a great time to see a Ruger Single Six review. I wonder who would be willing to do one?

  7. When I was young my father never showed much interest in shooting or me for that matter. Being the seventh of seven children I was lucky if he remembered my name. I joined the military when I was 19 and got my introduction to the joy of shooting. Now I’m a fairly well seasoned man with a family of my own – a wife; two sons, 14 & 18; a step-daughter and a step-son. I took all but my stepchildren to the range for the first time last year. I couldn’t have been more proud. I hope that, like the story above, I’ve started a tradition.

    Yeah…onion ninjas.

  8. For me it was a 20 gauge shotgun. I was 8. Everything else was the same, except for the plastic soldiers. But the cans were there; tin, not aluminum. And the creek. And the dew wet grass. And my excitement. And not remembering the details. But yeah, that day still is full of smells in my memory. And, I’ll never forget my Dad’s grin after my first shot!! Thanks for the memories.

  9. My father took me to shoot his russian SKS for my first time. He started cracking up when i used the folding bayonet as a monopod due to the weight.

  10. Great story! I still remember the first time dad and grandpa took me out shooting at a cabin in eastern Oregon. We used his remington pump action .22 rifle. It was a lot of fun. I went shooting with my dad and cousin a few months ago and we had a blast, literally. It’s still a lot of fun 30 years later.

  11. Makes me wish I had a story like this. I grew up in suburbia, New Jersey, with parents who’d likely never even seen a real gun aside from those on police hips. First time I went shooting was at one of those touristy ranges in Las Vegas when I was 16. M9 and an AR15, dove right in. Heck of a thrill.

    As it turns out, I was the one to finally take my parents shooting for their first times.

  12. Thanks – This made me remember my grandfather taking me out and teaching me how to shoot his .22 (a Winchester model 1906) when I was 13. First gun I ever fired, and the only thing that I wanted when he passed on.

  13. First gun I ever fired was a Colt Gold Cup National Match 1911 with a distant uncle. I’ll never forget how exaggerated the recoil felt because I didn’t know how to lock my arms properly and I was 13. Unfortunately due to NJ’s horrendous laws I couldn’t get into firearms for real until I got my FID card three years ago. Yeah I’m a late bloomer, but have caught up considerably thanks to this site. When I need to dunk my head under a shower of common sense after a long day of hearing the same old statist talking points, I come here.

  14. My first shot with a real gun was in the pasture, sitting on my Dads lap, I was 5 years old, hunting Jack rabbits, a Remington pump .22 with a scope, shooting out the window of a 53 chevy pickup truck. I lined up the crosshairs on the bunny and pulled the trigger. I hit the rabbit, it screamed and jumped about 5 feet in the air. I cried my eyes out. I think my Dad was a bit disappointed in my reaction! I have many pleasant memories of hunting with Dad, but that isn’t one of them! LOL!

  15. I remember fondly the first time I shot something bigger than a .22. I was about 7 years old, and really wanted a chance to shoot my dad’s .40 caliber Glock 23. I remember him loading a single round into the chamber, handing me the gun, and then kneeling behind me and bracing my back with his hands. If he hadn’t been holding on to me, that shot would have knocked me right on my little butt. It didn’t scare me off as much as exhilarate me though, and I have had a fondness for mule-kicking guns ever since.

  16. My MOM was the one to teach my brother and I to shoot. Dad was busy with wife #2 or was it #3?…. anyhow, it was a H&R .22 LR revolver. I was maybe 10 or 11 years old. This was in the rural (at that time) northwest corner of NJ in the 1960’s. It is a milestone in most kid’s lives where parents are teaching responsibility, respect, and showing trust in their kids. One of the bigger bonding moments in my life. Later in life, I was teaching my mom how to shoot a semi-auto handgun. I eventually got to do some shooting with my dad, but I was in my 40’s by then.

  17. My grandfather was the first to take me shooting. Just a few months ago, actually. I guess I’ll have to be the one to introduce my family to shooting.

  18. I remember my first time, it was a Krag-Jørgensen from 1917 that was converted to .22 LR (no magazine). Then I tried a Mauser from 189x (cant remember the last year) that was also converted to .22 LR. After having proved myself with those .22 LR assault rifles I moved on to the Sauer 200 STR. Smooth gun and it has a magazine, doesn’t sound that exciting if you haven’t been shooting single shot rifles for a while.

    I still have a fondness for diopter sights, that is aperture and globe sights because of that. Wonder how well they would work on a MSR (Modern Sporting Rifle)?

  19. You touched me with this. This is the experience, the feeling I never had. My dad never took me shooting, he doesn’t like guns, and he buggered off when I was about six. I hope someday to give this opportunity to my kids, be a better dad than mine.
    Dammit, man, you got me all emotional! [wipes tear from eye}.
    As it happens, my first gun was a Beretta over-under 12 gauge, my first that I remember clearly was a Remington semi-automatic 20 gauge. My grandpa took me clay pigeon shooting, it was the coldest, bitterest day of August that year, just my luck.

  20. That’s a tear jerker. Many wonderful memories have been made father/grandfather/whomever bringing a child into recreational shooting.
    I don’t personally remember the first firearm I shot, I’ve been shooting since I could remember. But I do remember the first deer rifle I shot. My dad finally decided I was old enough to not just sit in the treestand with him but actually HUNT I was probably 7 or 8. It was a Ruger 44mag carbine he’d had since the late 70’s. We drove out into the pasture, we found an old plastic jug that he propped up on the burm about 25yrds away. I was sitting down, my back leaning against the front tire of our 89′ Izuzu Trooper. I took careful, slowly pulled the trigger, careful not to screw up what I thought was my only passage to deer hunt, and BOOM! Oh how that rifle kicked I thought(I probably didn’t have it shouldered well), and it pushed me back into the wheel which hurt. Don’t remember if I hit the jug, but I obviously made my right of passage and later killed my first deer with that rifle. Ahh good memories.

  21. I was eight. The venue was the NYPD range on City Island in the Bronx. The first was a S&W Model 10, my dad’s first service piece, then a Chief’s Special; his duty weapon then. The funny part was he didn’t instruct me, every cop at the range had some kernel of wisdom to impart. It was one of the greatest days in my life. I still shoot both of those guns today and each time I remember my dad and all the other guys “on the job” who took the time to teach an eight-year-old the intricacies of handgun operation.

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