Wednesday, June 4, 2014

An Invitation Accepted

Borepatch has invited me to co-blog and I have accepted. He thinks I have something to offer on the subject of firearms, shooting, and reloading. I thought about it and decided to accept. My hesitation was based on the vastness of the chosen subjects and the shallowness of my knowledge. It won't matter what I decide to blog about, there will always more depth I haven't plumbed, more information I don't have, more experience I lack. I will look to his large readership to hit the comments and fill in the gaps yawning chasms in my posts.

Since we have to start somewhere, let's start with this. A couple of years ago, I was given a bag full of shotgun shells. They were old, some of them paper hulls, partial boxes, two or three of this and that. They were all factory loads, not corroded or swollen, so I took them to the range. I ran into a friend out there and he and I set up a mechanical thrower, then we used the old shells as we tried to break the birds we threw for each other. When the first of the paper hulled shells was fired, it was the smell that took me back. The powder was different and it had a distinctive smell. I picked up that hull and sniffed it and I was back at the beginning.

 On a summer evening in New Hampshire in 1964. A seven year old boy with his grandfather behind him on the line at the trap range. I'm the only child forward of the fence and all the men are indulging my grandfather, letting him take his time, instructing his grandson. It's an old side by side 12 gauge, the smallest shotgun they could find. I listen to his instructions, always the focus on safety, where I keep the muzzle, how I load it, how I should stand and sight the gun. If I had to swear on it and there was any way to check, I would say I broke six birds. But it's immaterial. My memories of that night are joyous. The rhythm of the string, loading the gun, then shouldering and pointing it above the house, calling "Pull!" and following the bird as I try to gauge when to fire. The smell of the gunpowder, picking up the hulls, and as the evening ended, going downrange to help pick up the unbroken birds.

We rode home in his big Ford sedan, my shoulder throbbing, and he taught me to clean the gun on his desk just inside the back door. I went upstairs, still grinning, and that was the first time. There's an unbroken line from then to now. But down inside somewhere is a small boy with a shotgun and his grandfather leaning in to say, "Let's see you break the next one. Lean forward, that's right, just put the bead on the bird and pull the trigger."


Borepatch said...

Welcome! ;-)

Graybeard said...

Welcome! Great story.

Care to leave us a Nom de Plume?

Borepatch said...

Graybeard, there's a tag at the end of the post: Posted by ASM826.

I have an intro going up later, too.

Borepatch said...

Graybeard, there's a tag at the end of the post: Posted by ASM826.

I have an intro going up later, too.

Dave H said...

Welcome indeed! I've been gleaning knowledge from your comments here for a couple years. I'm looking forward to a full harvest now.

ASM826 said...


You know me from Random Acts of Patriotism.


Mike Brahier said...

Fun story. Looking forward to more. :)