I love guns. I really, really love them. I love the look of them, the way they feel and balance in the hands. The way they work and how simple or complicated they are. Their power or their lack of power, letting you enjoy them as soft shooting tools. I love knowing I am holding in my hands a part of history. When it comes from one of Americas oldest gun makers or a rifle that was used in one of the wars by them men we all admire. I love that they will do as they are asked as long as you have the ability and as long as the gun is quality, you have no one to blame but your own lousy ability. And I love that they are works of art, much like the samurai sword. You can buy them made the way you want, or in some cases, you can put them together and build them with your own hands depending on your own skill. You can even make the ammunition for them by yourself, at any quality level you want.
The most valuable memories I have always include guns. Guns used during hunting trips with my Dad and Grandafather, vets of WW2 and the war in Vietnam. Learning hot to work on them with my Dad or friends and the feelings of elation that came with making a shot I had been practicing months for, with my best friends around and watching them do the same. Making a 500 yard rifle shot on a turkey as a friend spots for me and calls out “hit”! Jumping up two deer and knocking one down on a dead run and having my Dad pat me on the shoulder and tell me what a great shot it was. Listening to one of my two best friends tell me the history on vintage SWISS military rifles late into the night and going to gun shows after a late night dinner at a sushi bar. And the tired feeling of accomplishment on the ride home from a carbine course with a friend who is closer then my brother. I would not have these memories and experiences if not for my beloveds.
I can not imagine them not being in my life. I could say they define me and that would probably be not too far from the truth. To me, they are not just some toy, or a collectible, or a hobby as some people seem to think of it. Others think of them as valuable or something to have and play with for a bit and maybe show off, then become bored with them and sell them off for another little distraction or something else to brag about, all the while they never mastered what it takes to use a gun or why it is important to have them.
I have always been baffled by those people. I understand the anti-gun people. I think they are wrong, but I understand why they think the way they do. What I do not understand are those among us who call themselves gun people, or the idiotic term “gun nuts” or shooters. They have one or two, maybe a few more, but they never really use them. They have no skill with them, they have no idea of the history behind them or what it is. Most of the time they can not even take them apart for a simple cleaning and they sure as hell can not zero the sights. They may have one entire box of ammo, but more likely its a box, minus whatever amount the magazine held, after they got it home and shot it a few times. They more likely fired it two or three times then let a friend or a family member blast a round into the dirt or a pop can( which they miss) then all parties nod their heads and agree what a good ‘un it is. A few months later after showing it off to everyone they know, they grow bored with it and sell it for some new gun they will not use, or a TV. What a waste, I think to myself. I wonder what the point is because they sure have no intention of learning the skill and they sure do not ever let it cross their mind they may need it to save a life. I dare say, I have no respect for these types of gun owners. They are a step up from the gun ban people, but not really by much because they really would not care. I could never understand this type of person.
My life with guns is who I am. A lot of the good in my life has grown from my love of firearms. I do have other interests, but guns eclipses them. I don’t like sports( except the shooting sports) I find them boring and watching them doesn’t give me a skill I can use on my own. To me, there is nothing to be admired about any of the ball players. You can not save your kids life with a football. You can not feed your family by killing a deer with a tennis racket no war was ever won because Nazi Panzers became rendered scrap from a hockey stick or a baseball bat. Even my other interests usually can touch base with the fire arms world or builds skill that would easily blend well with shooting.
Most shooters I know, like their guns because that’s what they need for a few activities. They like to hunt, so they need rifle for deer, or a shotgun for a bird or, whatever. Hunting is a large part of this locally. A few more like guns because they like the history of surplus relics or using something for a match and of course the ones who are just dirt blasters. Sadly almost none of the local people I know understand the point of the gun, to defend themselves from whatever threat may come. They have no interest or desire to learn to use a weapon under stress or threat of life. To them , its a waste of time or crazy. One person made the most idiotic statement I ever heard come from some one who is pro gun. He told me “mounting a flashlight on a rifle or pistol is the dumbest most useless thing I ever heard of.” I guess he can see in the dark and can ID his wife in pitch black at 300Am with bleary eyes under extreme stress. Most of us who use common sense however, will stick to the “dumb” method of using a flashlight. But that shows the general attitude.
My attitude of always thinking of the fire arms as a martial/defensive tool has caused me great annoyance over the years when dealing with this kind of head in the sand willful ignorance, but I can always find common ground with most shooters. The reason is that my interest in guns and love of everything about them has given me a very large range of knowledge in them in every way.
I grew up shooting .22LRs like everyone and the odd shotgun and of course my beloved 1911, of which I began my life with at age 9. After moving up to target bolt action rifles for everything from match to meat I started a sort of scholarly interest in guns. I have a huge library for guns and their history and everything else about them. Not only that, but book by about the men who made them, used them and wrote about them. During the mid 90s I spent 3 years learning the more obscure info on guns, ammo, reloading and shooting. I learned of long forgotten subjects like frontal ignition. I learned how the Japanese bolt gun from WW2 was the strongest of all WW II actions and how it rates on the hardness scale. I learned why low number Springfield 1903s are dangerous and what made them dangerous. I learned why some case designs are more accurate then other and who Harry Pope was. I spent a long time reading about snipers and sniping and all the men who perfected the art. I loved every second of it.
I spent years hunting big and small game, shooting for the smallest groups possible during bench rest shooting. I made a 1 mile shot with a 300 Rem Ultra Mag and a 1,000 yard shot using a AR15A2 with nothing more then iron sights, a leather sling and my own hand-loads. I even was able to shoot aspirin taped to cardboard at 300 yards using an unlimited BR rifle with a 36x Unertl scope, chambered in .223×35 and 6mmPPC.
I am almost 37 years old now and I have owned close to 350 guns in my life. I do not regret going through so many guns because I learned a lot from each one. I just did not shoot them and see how they shot. I learned the history of each one and every technical fact about how it worked, how it was made and the ammo it used along with who made it and what it was meant to be used for. I thoroughly worked them over to attain my best with them while learning how to tune them if they needed it.
Because of such a wide range of niche interests in all these guns, I made a lot of life long friends. All of my best friends are a gift from the guns we both love. All of my life long and most trusted friends became so, because of the gun. You can trust gun people. Gun people understand loyalty and being honest and the skill it requires to be good with, and be safe with fire arms. Not all gun owners are this way of course, but most really are. Any friends I have that is not a result of guns, are co workers from some job or another and I was forced to be close to them from working together day after day. But it is not the same.
Growing up, all of my heroes were gun people. Movies in the 80s had mountains of gun fights and heroes who used them to save the day. TV was full of M16s and Mini 14s and uzis and the ever present 1911. My Dad was in the Vietnam war and carried an M16 and a 1911. Both Colt, and learned he could trust his life with them. This was past on to me very early in my life and it has stayed with me. Dad has always been a gun lover and he certainly passed it on to me. Not only the love of guns, but our country’s history of our gun heroes. Dad has always been a lover of history , the same as me. And I heard stories of Audie Murphy and old west gun fighters ( those heroic sociopaths ) and SGT. York.
This is another large part of the gun. The history and the nostalgia of the gun. When I pick up a vintage gun, like a 1885 highwall with a varmint barrel, I think of all of the work that went into making it. Of the pioneers of accuracy who wanted to perfect our favorite tools, like Harvey Donaldson and Col. Whelan. I think of open fields in the autumn with some old shooter picking off ground hogs. Or I hold a M1 garand and think of some tired G.I saving Europe’s ass. It makes me think of the skill it took to build the gun and the skill it took to use it. the history and nostalgia of guns are a lot of fun. But its not the point. A lot of peope today would be a lot better off if they could remember that.
The gun takes skill to use despite what the media says. If you read this site you know its not just point and pull the trigger to make 100 bullets a second come out and kill every one within a 10 mile radius, set houses on fire and kill flowers while the power goes off, the milk spoils and kids cry. It takes practice. But its more then just practice. You have to understand a lot of technical points if you truly want to master the fire arm. Shooting at paper at 25 yards 1,000 times a day for 10 years will not let you make a hit at 1,000 yards. You have to learn to read and adjust for wind, elevation adjustments and so many things I am not going to bother with. Then being able to do this on demand any time under any conditions and with alacrity, takes skill.
A maddeningly large amount of American gun owners think they are born with the skill to use a fire arm. That they can use it under threat of life when they need to because they shot a pop can once or a deer or play video games. This is a sorry state for shooters but it is the truth. So, even with as many shooters as we have now, few really have the skill and mindset to use them. Shooting really is the American martial art. It is not as easy as most think and the ability to use the efficiently gives me pride. Everyone is proud of any skill they have =, but for some reason, shooting is the one skill a lot of shooters will brag about, when they actually have zero to no ability! Few will lie and say they can hit home runs every time or can dunk a basketball or whatever utterly useless talent they also admire. But they lie their ass and say they can hit anything, any distance. To be able to do this is hard and takes a lot of time, practice and ammo. To be able to do this shows to me, a serious shooter. More importantly though is the mindset to understand what it pointless shooting or shooting that will not help you if your life depends on it. I have always made this my number one priority when it comes to guns, because that is why they exist.
Of course it is not all about the skill when it comes to guns. there is something else there I think. To use one, you are deciding to take control of your own life as soon as you pick one up. When you have a fire arm, and the skill to use it, you take the responsibility of defending your own life, in your hands. Realizing that shooting IS a martial at, and taking it as serious as any other, you understand the mental aspect that goes with it. You have to decide if you are going to train yourself to become a helpful part of society if thinks go terribly wrong or just a dirt blaster. Any one can be a dirt shooter, or one of the gun club boys who plants his elbows into the gun club bench and bang away at 25 yards , but it takes dedication and serious purpose to learn to use the gun in ways to save people in a fight.
This takes all the practice and commitment to the skill as any martial art. The basics of firing a weapon are the same for the dirt blaster as any one else. But it is not that simple. To learn the gun in a way that will help you in a life threatening situation is another matter. A different skill, altogether. Enough has been said on this by others , so I am not going to go on and on about it this time. But, in my opinion, that of all the disciplines of shooting that we see in this country, none are as important or should demand the pride and respect as the skill to use the gun to stop a fight and save a life, even if it is your own.