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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.

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  1. Sarah I follow most your blogs and post on this website, and I just have to say girl you are the bomb! you speak positively for all gun owners in this country especially women and I find that very important especially in these times.I mean I really enjoy hearing from a woman’s point of view about gun related events, thank you very much for your time. David.

  2. The gun bug is a very expensive and contagious disease. It can be hereditary, but it can even be contracted by something as simple as a book, movie, game, or even a 30 second youtube video. There is no cure. Only treatment with medicinal ammunition.

    Oh, and driving with three pedals will always be more awesome.

    • Yes the gun bug is expensive.

      However, in my case it is fueled in no small part by a love of precision and powerful machinery – these two things dovetail beautifully in firearms.

      So the alternative was to become an enthusiast and collector of classic cars and Swiss mechanical watches.

      When I pointed this out to my beautiful wife (who shoots better than I do), she agreed in principle that firearms weren’t so bad after all. 🙂

      • I was at a car auction in Monterey where quite a few of the cars went for 6 digit sums. Some for 7 digit. Your wife made a wise choice.

        Can’t comment on Swiss watches. But anything with Swiss in it is bound to be pricey.

  3. I know a guy who has three daughters. Each one was required to change a tire before he let them drive his car.

    There’s just no excuse for going through life helpless, but so many people (especially women) choose that option anyway. Kudos to your dad for teaching you to learn to take care of yourself.

  4. I’m impressed with the way your father taught you. By teaching the way he did, he ensured that you took it seriously and took responsibility for it.

  5. This post underscores the need for BOTH mothers and fathers that so many of the “it takes a village” crowd forget or vilify, as the case may be. in that crowd, however, I doubt many of the fathers could shoot a gun, clean a gun, change a tire, or even know where the dipstick is. (the rest of you can take off from that last one 😉

  6. Good post!

    BTW, my father took me fishing. My grandfather took me shooting (although he never fired a gun himself). When I look back, the best times I ever had were fishing with my dad and shooting with my grandfather. They’ve both been gone a long, long time, but the memories will never fade.

  7. That was my first rifle. My grandmother bought my brother and I each one for our first Christmas.

  8. I don’t come from a gun family. We weren’t anti-gun, just never got around to buying one. Sure, we had relatives who did have guns. Sometimes we’d shoot skeet out at the farm or someone else’s farmland or whatever. But I developed a love for firearms before I ever touched one. I don’t know exactly why, but I just loved to read and research about guns, specifically military arms. Only guns I really shot as a teenager were a handful of shotguns for skeet.

    But as an adult, I started buying my own guns. Of course, I brought them home so my folks could shoot. Resently, my dad bought HIS first gun (as an adult, being a child of the 50’s he had his Marlin .22).

    I started the firearms tradition in our family.

    • Outstanding!

      That’s even cooler than those of us fortunate enough to come from a rich, multi-generational history of firearms. May your legacy pass down through the ages also.

  9. I was lucky I suppose. My grandmother worked at a gun store back then. I have a child on the way, I cant wait for him/her to get to enjoy the rifle I learned to shoot on.

  10. My introduction to guns was far too serious, I think; shooting was a duty, to keep deer out of the orchard or garden and in case a dangerous prisoner from the not-too-far-away state prison work camp was reported on the loose.

    Then came the day we were visiting family friends on their farm, and the older son (all of seventeen) said he had something fun for us all to do: he got out a pair of old bolt-action .22s and sent us down the dike road. Many minutes later he came running to join us, just ahead of two big floating slabs of wood stacked with pyramids of glass jars. We were to try to shatter just one jar at a time, he said….

    A dozen slabs of wood later, and many dozens of shattered glass jars, I had just had the time of my life. So when I moved out on my own and my dad handed down to me his “bunny gun”, a beautiful Winchester bolt-action .22, I knew life couldn’t possibly be all bad no matter what came my way.

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