Gun Culture

Blog Post
You can run, but you’ll just die tired.

LL age about 7
This photo was taken at about the time that I killed my first deer – medium sized buck, shot on the Mogollon Rim in Eastern Arizona. 
As a young man I was prohibited from owning a BB gun. My grandfather (who raised me) said that it would teach me to shoot indiscriminately and that wasn’t part of the code that he – and I, by default, ascribed to. He wasn’t fond of handguns because he felt that a precise shot at range was an art form that could only be accomplished with a rifle. He also taught me not to shoot anything that I wasn’t prepared to properly clean, cook and eat. 
Old LL
I was raised with the doctrine that shooting was an act of deliberation and that putting ordnance on target needed to be considered circumspectly. It’s never a small thing, is it? The animal or bird that you kill in jest dies in earnest.
Now I have a grandson who is 7 and should be shooting, but his mother/my daughter balks at the thought. She has been raised in California and even though she has a police officer husband there is a different dynamic at work.
When she was in the police academy, she beat all of the men at pull-ups, having been a gymnast, she is an aggressive daughter…but my efforts to raise her in a proper gun culture fell short. Maybe it’s the age we live in? Maybe it’s simply the place she was raised and the people she grew up around.
I’m not suggesting that it’s wrong of her not to want her oldest son following the family tradition of shooting from the time you’re old enough to shoulder and sight the weapon. However, when you deny young men the discipline and focus necessary, are you doing them favors? 
Something happened to me, growing up and shooting, putting ordnance on target – when I gravitated to hunting human game in the military and in my professional life, spent doing that legally. Much of my interest shifted to black powder hunting – one shot, primitive weapon.  It changes how you hunt, and the mindset of your hunt. A flintlock musket or rifle is not much good in the rain… I have an 85 lbs pull Kodiak recurve bow, but prefer the 42 lbs. bow — compound bows are much better, but there is an earthiness to hunting with something not quite so precise, not quite so much of a sure thing.

26 thoughts on “Gun Culture

  1. Like you, I started off shooting at around 7 years old, thanks to relatives in Texas, and carried that on. And I'd say it's an important discipline and skill to pass on, especially to boys. Mine like to shoot ARs, they're less keen on cleaning the weapon, heh…

    And for sure, there's definitely something about killing, cleaning and eating an animal. Not to be taken lightly, even if it is good sport.

    Now lets see if I can find that snake…

  2. The guns and other tools were just a part of the whole dynamic when I was growing up. We were taught early on that you never shot anything that you weren't going to utilize or needed protection from.

  3. Dad bought me a lever-action .22 at about that age. Also taught me how to handle the Ruger Bearcat at about the same time. I wish I still had them 'cuz it's getting to be time to start teaching my grandkids. I like to teach little ones using guns that require a very deliberate process to get the next shot ready but most of my guns nowadays are semi-auto and in calibers that aren't really kid-friendly.

  4. Grew up in a subsistence poacher family. As a toddler my mother said I called deer, "Bang bang cows". Other than pests, we never killed anything we weren't going to eat. Safety was taught at a very early age. In our house there were always loaded firearms close at hand. They were tools, no different than the misery whips in the wood shed.

  5. My rifle was a bolt-action .22. You can still buy them but to get them right for children they need to be cut down (don't forget to crown the barrel) to a size that allows for their use.

  6. My first deer was poached. (shot it during turkey season) Grandpa handed me his pocket knife and helped me clean it.

  7. My kids where taught the same way, though they appear to be in a bit of denial about their roots, thankfully the grandkids are proving me right.

  8. My senior year in high school was the first time I bought a license. First deer at age 8, Gore Canyon (downstream from Kremmling, CO) on the railroad right of way. At the time my father was a Section Foreman for the Denver and Rio Grande. His two section hands each got a quarter. First elk at 13 with an axe as he climbed on the hay wagon while I was feeding livestock.

  9. "He also taught me not to shoot anything that I wasn't prepared to properly clean, cook and eat. "
    I never learned to dress a tin can or paper target.
    My sons learned, and I was concerned about my grandson whom I don't get enough time with.
    He seemed uninterested in shooting when he hit his teens, but his dad and I took him to the range a couple weeks ago and when I handed him my newly acquired Luger, he stood and placed a perfect bullseye first shot.
    It made my heart well.

  10. Bad move by the elk, but they graze like cattle. Deer browse, as you know. It's a way of growing up that you don't see in the lower 48 states much anymore, but Alaska may be different?

  11. How many dings and slashes have you given yourself wood working? Same thing, right? They too are how you learn.

  12. That is sad to hear… Thankfully, I was able to start my grandson down the right road at age 10… sigh

  13. My dad gave my his single shot 22 rifle when I turned 13. The gun is over a 100 years old and I still love hearing the crack of the firing. My daughter goes to the range with me when she can, too. She was raised around hunting and fishing. But my granddaughter has no desire to shoot.

  14. Outstanding post and subject, LL. Makes me want to go watch Second Hand Lions again!

  15. Bows and arrows for me. Never killed a deer in my life. I think I'd cry and think of Bambi. Teach your grandson to write. The pen is mightier than the ..erm… gun..yeah.

  16. More deer have been killed with arrows than bullets. An arrow with a broad head tip on it is lethal in the extreme. When you serve Bambi, don't forget the Yorkshire pudding and the brown gravy…

Comments are closed.

Scroll to top