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Rico's Childhood Gun Experiences, Terrifying

Please join us in welcoming a new contributor to the ArmedCandy team!! Rico enjoys many outdoor activities and shooting guns, is just one of them. His point of view, unlike the rest of us, is southern born and raised. He is also our first writer who is also a parent. Rico's perspective will further ArmedCandy's goal of rendering a complete picture of American gun owners and we look forward to his contributions.

By Rico

targets hanging at Charlie Elliot Wildlife Center in Georgia for shooting by ArmedCandy
Eastbound on I-20…something as familiar to me as the back of my hand. The destination? Charlie Elliot Wildlife Center, which resembles state parks I frequented as a youngster. Today I am copiloting, a role that is new for me. My mother received that distinct pleasure, when father would take us camping. Lately, when headed out with my son, I do all the driving. This is a different trip, though.

Gabby has invited me to an outdoor range, something confusing to me in a different way than you might imagine. I grew up with two military fathers, my mother’s husband being an avid hunter whose father was elected Treasurer of his hunting club. While shooting and guns have been as much a part of growing up for me as training wheels and the ice cream truck. However, the real confusion came not in the lessons learned, but the lessons that were not experienced.

Several hundred yards before Gabby and I turned into the range, I hear blasts from the skeet range and am reminded of many early mornings in the late 80’s, driving beagles back in South Carolina. I was in the Little Pee Dee River swamp hoping a deer would jump in between my Grandfather and the nearest hunter, behind or in front of his 83’ Dodge Ram. It is truly astonishing no one ever was killed.
"It is truly astonishing no one ever was killed."[tweet this]

We spent our afternoons eating wild game Perlot , and changing out chokes for dove hunting. We confirmed our pattern on some cardboard that was stabbed into a severed limb of a tree on a dirt road. We were only certain no one was coming down the road before shooting, because we looked as far as we could see first. It was not unusual for tracer rounds, from the local military base, to be shot into the air at night... because it “looked cool”.

These were the people and the situations in which firearms were introduced to me as a youngster. You can imagine how foreign an explanation of rules of an outdoor range seemed to me in my 36 year old brain. Charlie Elliot's range staff go over an extensive list of rules with ever first-time visitor so I listened, patiently. After a short time I realized, my haphazard “training” was exactly why this procedure was followed.

During the few hours I was there, both the patrons and staff exhibited a first class attitude toward safety for one another. The staff would check cold ranges to ensure that the firearms were properly unloaded and no patrons were handling weapons/ ammo. Furthermore, members of the staff were quick to question a nonstandard target*, Gabby and I were shooting with pistols. Even after agreeing to the chosen target, we had to shoot from a seated position for fear the shots would not strike the back stop. After the range went hot the staff continued to keep a watchful eye.

Realizing that my lessons or even worse were likely shared by others, perhaps those next to me at the range, it was very settling to know that there was some form of standardization in place for the day at least. Who knows where Gabby and I will be next week…maybe in the Little Pee Dee teaching Grandpa a thing or two about gun safety.

Anyone have a similar experience?

* Smoke on a Rope by Smok'em Targets, Review to come
Flower targets courtesy of Miss Pistol (see image)

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