Lessons learned with a gun

Discussion in 'Anything Else' started by Netfotoj, Apr 28, 2007.

  1. Netfotoj

    Netfotoj Premium Member

    I learned my first lesson with a gun before I ever owned my first one. I grew up on a tobacco and cotton farm in central North Carolina at the head of Drowning Creek, near the little town of Candor. The woods began just outside our back door.

    I tagged along behind my dad and older brother George when they went hunting from the time I was knee high to a tadpole, long before I was old enough to be trusted with my own gun.

    One day I was tagging along with my dad, older brother and a few others during rabbit season when rain forced us to take shelter for a while under the roof of one of my dad's tobacco barns.

    I was no more than 7 or 8 at most. As we stood under the shelter waiting for the rain to stop, I was standing next to one of my dad's friends, who was showing off his brand-new Browning 12 gauge semi-auto shotgun. She was a beauty and I was all eyes.

    The man saw my look of wonder and asked me, “Son, would you like to shoot it?” I imagine he expected me to say no, but I didn't. “Sure,” I said, hardly believing he was serious.

    Maybe he was serious and maybe he wasn't, but when I agreed, he showed me how to hold it, pointed up to a clump of mistletoe in the top of a tree and said “Shoot that.” Then he flipped the safety off.

    I raised up the shotgun to aim and found my arms were too short to put the butt to my shoulder. So I just tucked the butt under my armpit, sighted and pulled the trigger. “Boom!”

    Next thing I know, the shotgun butt is on the ground and I'm holding the barrel in both hands.

    My dad's friend gingerly took the still loaded-and-ready-to-fire-again shotgun from my hands and flipped the safety back on. Then everybody had a good laugh, including me. He didn't ask me if I wanted to shoot it again, but I would have. I didn't have enough sense to know that 12 gauge auto was more gun than my little jaybird behind could handle.

    No. 1 Lesson Learned With A Gun: Don't shoot more gun than you can handle. (Or as Clint Eastwood said in one of his Dirty Harry movies, “A man's got to know his limitations.”)

    What lessons have you learned with a gun?

    I'll add more of mine later. Let's hear some of yours.
  2. Syntax360

    Syntax360 Premium Member

    Today I learned to make sure your safety glasses have a good weld to your head - my M9A1 through a piece of brass into them and now I feel like I have a god-awful sunburn on the corner of my right eye. :x


    SELFDEFENSE Premium Member

  4. Netfotoj

    Netfotoj Premium Member

    One of the many indignities us left-handed shooters have to put up with, as I'm sure you know well, Southpaw Syntax.

    Holding a right-hand ejection pistol on the left side is guaranteed to get you a round or two on top of the noggin or in the face when you shoot. Just keep them safety glasses on tight and wear a cap. My M357-A1 hasn't tossed a hot empty into my face yet, but she probably will sooner or later. And my S&W 669 tossed a few on my noggin the first time I shot her. I've seen a few left-handed revolvers (mighty few) but no left-hand ejection auto pistols.

    Living as a lefty in a right-handed world does create its own peculiar challenges, even if you're amphibious like me.
  5. Netfotoj

    Netfotoj Premium Member

    No. 2 Lesson Learned With A Gun

    Maybe my foolish bravado with a borrowed 12 gauge Browning auto convinced my dad I was finally ready for my first gun. For whatever reason, I started the next hunting season with my very first firearm, a .410 bolt-action, single-shot shotgun.

    Whatever happened to that beautiful little gun I haven't a clue. My dad's gone now, and all the firearms he left included an old double-barrel 12 gauge Stevens and a Winchester .22 semi-auto rifle that I've got and a 20 gauge Winchester semi-auto that my older brother has.

    But I learned from that .410 that if you aim true and don't shoot too quick, you can hit what you're shooting at. It took a pretty good while, but I finally learned how to hit a rabbit on the run.

    It's one of those skills you have to learn by trial and error, mostly error. My dad told me how to do it, but saying it and doing it are two different things. I missed a lot before I finally figured out how to lead a running rabbit, not too little, not too much, but just enough. Easy to say, much harder to do.

    I also learned that two .410 shotguns loads will pretty much ruin a rabbit. My younger brother James was born five years after me, but he got his first shotgun, also a .410, a couple of years earlier than I did.

    (He was always daddy's favorite, the baby of us five kids. Just one of those facts of life you learn to live with in a large family. And as it turned out, James was more like daddy than either my older brother George or me in more ways than one.)

    Anyway, on opening day of James' first rabbit season with a gun, we both spotted the same cottontail at the same time.

    “Boom-da-Boom!” He claimed he shot first and I claimed I did. But we both hit that poor rabbit. When we skinned that poor critter, he had so much lead in him that he fell apart. We cleaned him anyway and ate him along with the other rabbits killed that day.

    But we had to chew even more gingerly than usual or we'd bite down on one of those several lead shots still hidden in the meat of our double-dead rabbit.

    But I just couldn't let my little brother beat me to the shot and he felt exactly the same way.

    No. 2 Lesson Learned With A Gun: Two loads of .410 shot is one too many for one rabbit. (Or, if you shoot in haste, be prepared to eat the consequences.)
  6. Netfotoj

    Netfotoj Premium Member

    No. 3 Lesson Learned With A Gun

    My next gun was a 16 gauge Remington pump. I could never get off but one shot with the .410 when bird hunting and at least for me, one shot at a rising covey of quail always resulted in one miss.

    So daddy took pity on his poor-shooting middle son and got me the pump.

    I had already learned the hard way that shooting an automatic shotgun from the left side meant getting a face full of burnt and still-burning powder. A pump is the answer for the problem with powder burns for a lefty.

    Now if I could only learn how to hit a quail. At least for me, it is much harder than a rabbit on the run. And rabbits don't explode from under your feet with an always surprisingly loud thunderous beating of little wings. No matter how many times I'd heard it, it always scared me half to death.

    Even with a bird dog frozen on point and hunters walking slowly abreast in a line to flush the birds, I was never ready and always surprised when the covey burst into the air with that familiar fluttering roar.

    Shotgun up to shoulder, flick off safety, pick out one bird and draw a bead, “Boom!” Miss. Jack another shell in the chamber, “Boom!” Another miss. Jack another shell. “Boom!”

    First bird I ever hit was the third shot and I never got much better though I hunted for 30 years.

    My older brother George was a bit better at hitting quail than me, but not a whole lot. But if Mr. Bob White wanted to die that day, all he had to do was get up in front of my dad or my little brother.

    They both shared the same dead-eye-Dick shooting skills with a shotgun and the same deep love of the outdoors. George and I both loved to hunt and fish. But James really lived to hunt and fish, just as my daddy did as long as he was able.

    And almost from the beginning of James' bird hunting, he and daddy would almost always get a bird on the first shot and often would bring down a second on the same covey rise. Seldom did either ever fire a third shot, while George and me were emptying our guns with no results most of the time.

    No. 3 Lesson Learned With A Gun: Some shooters have got it, some don't. Do what you're good at and don't waste a lot of time worrying about what you can't do. But don't quit trying.
  7. Netfotoj

    Netfotoj Premium Member

    No. 4 Lesson Learned With A Gun

    I never did get very good with a shotgun, though I kept trying to hunt with one for 30 years or more. But I took to a rifle better and fairly quickly got to where I figured I could hit anything I could see. At least with a rifle, I could shoot better than my little brother.

    My first rifle was a Winchester .22 bolt-action single-shot. A box of 50 Long Rifle .22 shells was less than 50 cents way back then, so having enough shells was not a problem.

    But with a single-shot rifle I learned to hit what I shot at the first time, because there seldom ever was enough time to reload and get a second shot.

    So I learned to “still hunt” for squirrels. Pick a good spot at the trunk of a tree with a good view of trees where squirrels are likely to hang out. Sit down and shut up. Don't move. Don't even blink. Wait.

    Then wait a while longer. Don't twitch. Don't fidget. Don't move nothing but your eyeballs. After slightly longer than forever, the birds will start chirping again. After another forever, the squirrels will come out again. But don't shoot at the first one you see. Wait for a good shot. It's probably the only shot you're going to get, maybe for all day.

    And while you're sitting there seemingly doing nothing, waiting on a squirrel, you learn that God really does know what He's doing in this big old world. You can think deep thoughts, even for a kid.

    Many long years before I ever became a Christian, I learned to “Be still and know that I am God.”

    And if you sit there long enough, and are patient enough to wait for a good shot, you might just also learn the value and the rewards of patience, which is worth infinitely more than a squirrel stew.

    But while you're thinking deep thoughts, don't forget to keep your eye on the ball. Daydreaming when the SHTF can get you in a whole lot of trouble, the least of which is no squirrel for supper.

    No. 4 Lesson Learned With A Gun: Be ready for whatever comes at you. Far better to surprise what you're shooting at, than to be surprised when you're shot at. Squirrels, rabbits and quail don't shoot back. But as I learned in later lessons with a gun, bad guys do shoot back, and will shoot first, if you're not ready. So hit what you aim at the first time. You might not get a second shot. That lesson learned in the woods with a gun paid off for many a good ol' country boy in the Vietnam War, including this one.
  8. DocChronos

    DocChronos Premium Member

    Around age 16 a friend and I were tooling around the countryside in his 1951 Mercury 2-door with a flat head V8, cherry-soaked cigars stuck in our mouths, and feeling pretty good about our prospects in life. He moved the cigar to one side and asked whether I would like to see his new gun. I said I would, so he reached under the seat, pulled out a .22 caliber, chrome-plated revolver, and handed it to me.

    I had been handling guns since around age 5, mostly hunting small game, and had a careless familiarity with them, so I took the gun from him and began to absent-mindedly inspect it. At one point I rested the muzzle against my thigh with my finger on the trigger. My buddy mumbled something, but with the stogie in his mouth I couldn’t understand him. I lifted the muzzle from my leg and pulled the trigger. Luckily I was pointing toward the front, because when I pulled the trigger, I blew out the front windshield. Although windshields in those days were laminated, I can tell you from first-hand experience, they still shattered pretty well when hit by something.

    My buddy pulled off the road, and yanked the cigar from his mouth. Over the ringing in my ears, I heard him shout, “I was trying to tell you the gun is loaded!”

    Lesson learned: All Guns Are Loaded.
  9. Wulf

    Wulf Premium Member

    Dayam, *foto* :shock:

    You can read minds? :shock:

    Wulf <-- wants to be amphibious, too
  10. Seven

    Seven Premium Member

    Mighty fine!

    Excellent series, Net! Thank you!

  11. bigtaco

    bigtaco Active Member

    i wasn't there, cause i wasn't born yet...

    but apparently, if you head over to your neighbor's duck pond and shoot dinner from inside the cab of a pickup truck, you can't hear your wife yell at you for a week.

    which apparently makes duck a pretty good meal!!!!
  12. babj615

    babj615 Premium Member


    I SHALL have to try that sometime!!!



    SELFDEFENSE Premium Member

    "Wulf <-- wants to be amphibious, too"
    Me too. I'm only ambidexterous.

    SELFDEFENSE Premium Member

    Lesson: Carry as big a gun as you can. (Corollary: Things which are good for concealment and comfort can be bad for actual use of the gun)

    Long story short. Picking up my car at the repair shop. Two guys get out of a car and walk in. Third guy in the car with the motor running pointed across the street to the highway entrance 2 stops from the Wash., D.C. line. Two guys ask guy behind the counter if there is a place nearby that sells ice cream. :? Counter guy says no. 2 guys pause for about 10 seconds (seems like 3 months to SD). Then ask another lame question, get no for an answer and pause again. At this point I'm sure these jokers are deciding whether to hit the joint. I slowly start to back up to get behind and beside them. Also hook my thumb on my belt and slowly start to slide it back to the 2:30 position where my Glock 26 sits in my Sparks IWB. Jokers ask a third lame question, get answer no again and pause again. During this sequence my heart is pounding, I am starting to sweat, and my fingers feel like ten blocks of lead that couldn't pick up metal spoon with an industrial magnet. The Glock 26 is a nice little gun with a small grip which tucks nicely under my ribs and is a joy to carry and conceal.
    But I now realize, as I am waiting the long seconds for the STHTF, that things that can make a gun an optimal concealor can work against you if you have to actually pull the gun. I had trepidation that if I had to draw fast under those conditions I might fumble the draw by not getting a good grip on the small gun butt.
    Luckily, the jokers moseyed back out to the waiting car and left (they might have received bad vibes from me and the counter guy whose right shoulder seemed to dip a little bit after the second lame question).
    That was the last day I ever carried the little G26; and the M9 or G19 are just barely big enough for comfort after that experience.
  15. FlaChef

    FlaChef Guest

    don"t put all your guns in the trunk after going to the range. Even if it is a cold range on a match day. Two different gas station stops after a monday night match when things start to get ugly (1 fistfight and one guy screaming bloody murder at the cashier while I'm in line). Luckily nothing ever happened, but those are the two times i wish i had a gun and didn't because they were in the bag in the trunk and things could have gonebadly.
    Fast forward about a year and i never walk out of the range without at least a loaded j frame in my pocket when there is a string of robberies involving some thugs following people home from an indoor range (not one i go to) and holding them up at gunpoint for their range bags when they get home.
  16. ThaiBoxer

    ThaiBoxer Active Member

    As a 10 y.o. I kid a had a small Crosman carbine, maybe a 766, I forget the model. It was a BB only repeater, 10 pumps for max power. We lived in the sticks in Lake of The Ozarks, Missouri. I spent a lot of time with that carbine, and it was a shooter.

    One day as I am on our dock, working off some late summer boredom by shooting at bluegills, I see a large, brown gull or skimmer of some sort. Not a bird I had seen before. A long, elegant neck. It is at the top of a tree, probably 30 yards away. I take a shot at the gull's head, not really thinking much of it. This large gull crashes down. I am exhilirated at the shot, and surprised I hit it. I run over, and the gull is opening and closing it's beak, as it slowly dies. I tagged it in the neck, severed spinal chord, and I expect it was suffocating, able to move mouth and head, but not power its lungs. It was a good-loocking bird, a kind of miniature pelican as I recall. I was devastated and very ashamed.

    It wasn't the first thing I'd shot and killed, and it wasn't the last. But it was the first and last thing I shot at that I didn't intend to kill.

    Lesson #1 Don't shoot at it if you don't want to kill it.

    When I was a senior in High School, my dad had to travel out of town, my sisters were both staying overnight somewhere else, and I was alone. I woke at sometime late, and heard the front door open, then catch on the chain. I slipped out of bed. I then heard the door open and a some scratching, then the chain fell loose. I had a 20 gauge pump shot gun with bird shot in my closet and I pulled that out and quietly chambered a round. My bedroom was right at the the top of the stairs. The front door was right at the base of the stairs. I put the muzzle around the corner. My heart was pounding hands sweaty, all that.

    Slow, quiet footsteps up the stairs. I was pretty scared. I remember thinking I'll center on the head and shoot if I have to. Then I was thinking/feeling 2 things

    a) I really did NOT want to shoot and kill anybody
    b) That wasn't going to stop me

    A head popped up and I centered on the head, safety was off and I slipped my finger inside the trigger guard, pressing it hard against the guard, away from the trigger. I really, really didn't want to fuck up.

    Then a voice says, "Ben?".

    It was my sister. She'd had a disagreement of some kind and decided to come home. Picked open the chain simply by pushy her scrawny arm inside and using a pen to reach the part she couldn't. Then she had a premonition or intuition of some sort and decided to announce herself.

    It was a close one. I was ready, but don't know what would have happened had she not announced herself. I was careful the whole time so as not to make a mistake. But it was dern close. I should have racked that slide loud and bellowed out something, but at the time I guess I didn't want to give myself away.

    Lesson #2 Make sure of your target before you fire. Most especially if your target is human.