Wednesday, June 8, 2011

I, Gun Nut.

Jennifer has asked how we all became gunnies, and I'm obliged to share my story.

I've been shooting for almost as long as I can remember.  The first time was in Alabama, oddly enough.  I was here with my grandfather* visiting his side of the family.  I was three, maybe four, and we went out shooting not too far from where I live right now.  I only remember shooting one gun.  It was a shotgun.  My uncle put it in my hands (no, he never got any smarter) and told me to shoot.  I did, and ended up on my ass.

I don't remember that it scared me, or that it hurt me, but I didn't want to shoot a shotgun for a long, long time. 

When I was little older my grandfather bought my brother and me each a .22 single shot rifle.  I don't remember the brand or any of the specifics, I just remember that there was a waiting period to get them (California).  I know we shot them at our property in the mountains in California, but I don't have any specific memories of it.

I remember a couple of time in California shooting hunting rifles.  Once was with an uncle whose name escapes me (he was either my grandmother's brother, or brother in law) on our property in the Sierra Nevadas.  Another was shooting my Uncle Johnnie's rifle at his place in California.

The next distinct memory I have of shooting was the year before my grandfather moved us to Alabama.  It was right around where I'm sitting right now.  I think my grandfather had just purchased the property, and it was thick with brush and the mosquitoes were vicious in the humid Alabama weather.

I recall two pistols, both revolvers.  One was a .22, and the other was a .357.  My brother and I got to shoot both.  I liked it, but the bugs were so distracting it was not a very pleasant adventure.

Once we moved to Alabama I still didn't shoot a whole lot.  Guns were a part of our household, but my grandfather kept them put away.  Probably to keep my sisters from messing with them.   There was a couple hours of shooting our single shot .22s the one year I was in the Boy Scouts. 

Things changed when my grandfather bought a Ruger 10/22.  It lived in my bedroom.  I shot it constantly for months.  Then, honestly, I got bored with it.  I asked for bigger rifles, but he never seemed interested in letting me have more than that .22.  I made the most of it, and enjoyed it when the mood struck me. 

As I got into my later teens I acquired, by way of my grandfather, a 20 gauge shotgun.  I didn't shoot it a whole lot.  My grandfather lost a leg in a car accident and I became defacto burglar/robber slayer in the household.  Never had to ventilate anyone, but I came close one night wearing nothing but my boxers!  I became a lot more appreciative of the shotgun as a weapon after that night.  It made a grown man damn near cry he was so scared, and I was just a kid in my underwear.  Talk about your equalizer.  Never saw that stupid thief again.

We had a 6" barreled Rossi .357 my grandfather had taken as repayment for a loan.  I shot it a lot in my last few years of high school.  I was not bad either, for an untrained shooter.  I had a lot of fun with it.

I still wasn't a Gun Nut, though.  Shooting was fun and all, but it wasn't a part of me.  It didn't make up who Robert was.  The idea of having a gun for personal defense was just something you had, but you didn't really do anything with it but let it sit in a drawer. 

When I got my first apartment I bought an H&K USP .45 from a friend.  I shot it once or twice, but it mostly sat in my nightstand drawer.   

Sometime not long after that, about five years ago, I read Unintended Consequences by John Ross.  It had been sitting on my bookshelf for years, unread.  I liked the story, but it was hardly the best story I'd ever read.  It read like part history book at first, which I liked being a history major. 

To be honest though, it was my first real look at the gun culture.  It was more than a little radical, but I liked that.  I still like that.  The one thing it does excellently is chronical the loss of gun rights into the 1990's.  Things were getting better by the time I got started, but they still had a ways to go and I saw how close we'd come to losing everything. 

And it changed my life.

I went from looking at guns as being fun and useful, to being one of the most important keys of my freedom.  I applied for my CCW not long after finishing it, and I bought a Ruger Mini-14 and a handful of 20-round magazines right about the time the Assault Weapons Ban disappeared.

I started shooting regularly, and carrying everywhere I went.  I started reading gun magazines, and then gun forums, and then gun blogs.  Before long I was turning what had been just a personal life blog into a gun blog.
There was a  definite transformation after reading that book.  I talked about guns and the 2nd Amendment.  I started to realize that just owning a gun wasn't enough, that being proficient with it was just as important.  I've taken friends shooting, been the stimulus whether they admit it or not for a lot of their own firearms purchases.  I've taken more than a couple of dates shooting.

I've shot every type of modern firearm I'm aware of, except one:  the lever action rifle.  I've shot revolvers, bolt action rifles, semi auto rifles and pistols, machine guns. 

Over the last five years I've become a true member of the gun culture.  I've owned quite a few guns since then:  8 pistols, 2 shotguns, and 6 rifles.  The last couple of years have been pretty rough though.  Most of my collection has dwindled, but at the same time I've concentrated on what I have and become a better shooter.

I've found that I love the 1911 pistol in .45 ACP.  The last three pistols I've purchased have been 1911s.

I'm giving serious thought to building my own AR to replace the one I had to sell.

I want an M1 Garand because I think I'll need it one day.

I've taken training courses.  I try to shoot at least a hundred rounds a week.  I've developed a passion for shooting that I never knew was within me.  If I could spend everyday on the range I would.

I won't give it up, either.  Not as long as I'm breathing.

So there it is.  Kind of rambling.  Not really a straight line.  Just like life.  But that's how it happened, in a nutshell.    

*I was raised by my maternal grandparents until I was five.  Then I was raised by just my grandfather.  I've never know my biological father or paternal grandparents, not even their names.  Thanks, Mom!

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