My First Gun

This is a guest post by Scott Sylvester

A Trip Down Memory Lane with My First Gun

The other night my 13 year old daughter and I sat down to clean some guns we had shot during our recent trip to the range. We had three my first guntotal to clean up, and she was going to clean her shotgun first. From out of the safe we took our old Iver Johnson 410 gauge shotgun. I have no idea how old this shotgun is and to be honest, I’m not even sure if Iver Johnson is still in the business of making firearms. This one however has endured and was passed down from my father, who got it from his grandmother. This beat up old gun is now owned by my daughter, four generations later.

It’s Not a Pretty Gun

It’s not a pretty gun. The original wood stock is splitting slightly, and there are a few chips missing from the fore stock as well. The steel has a few flecks of rust from sitting in a closet at my uncle’s house for two decades before my dad got it from his brother and it was passed to me. This is the first gun my daughter learned to shoot.

Every time she cocks back the hammer on this old break open, single shot 410, I imagine my great grandma smiling down with approval from above, thinking about the times she fired it as a little girl and all the rabbits she hunted back in those days she fed her family with. Now, about 100 years later my little girl is carrying on a long tradition of firearms in our family. She can’t wait to bag her first rabbit with great, great grandma’s gun to.

My middle son recently attended an NRA Basic Pistol course and took with him a Ruger Single Six, that was my father’s first handgun. After I inherited it and trained my son on how to operate it, this 40 year old .22 single action revolver is now the pistol he is training with. This is mostly due to a healthy interest in cowboys and the old west. Perhaps I have a cowboy action shooter on my hands waiting to blossom. On days at the family ranch, my middle son now carries this revolver chambered with snake shot to defend against rattlesnakes.

In my personal collection I have taken a fancy to battle rifles from the greatest generation. In my collection I have well preserved rifles from the Eastern Front, and even the American icon, the M1 Garand. More than the smooth action, consistent accuracy and joy to shoot, they are a piece of history. Every time I pick up that old Mosin Nagant I can’t help but feel a touch of nostalgia. I wonder who held it before me, and how immense the suffering must have been on the Russian Steppes. I wonder how it got those dents in the wood and how many German soldiers were silhouetted by those sights. If only the rifle could relay it’s experiences to us all.

Fast forward back to modern day, Christmas 2013. After spending the year shooting great, great, grandma’s 410 Iver Johnson, I bought my kids their very own Ruger 10/22 rifles. This is another American icon that almost every shooter owns, has owned or has fired. As we clean the old shotgun I wonder if 20, 30 or 40 years from now if my sons and daughters will be leaning over the table with that old 10/22 watching their children lovingly scrub and polish their heirloom.

One of the great things about being a gun owner and collector is that each firearm integrates into your family in a unique way. Firearms are investments, tools, and heirlooms and part of the American Heritage pre-dating the founding of our great nation. Every ding, chip or dent has a story and is part of the unique character of the firearm. Someday, I hope my kids pass on the shooting tradition, their firearms and I get to see my great grandkids opening up the rifle they will pass on long after I am gone.

Well, thanks for taking a trip down memory lane with me. I hope as you read, you took a mental inventory of your first firearms, the important people who taught you to shoot them, and the guns you and your children cherish now. It’s never too late to build a new tradition with your family or acquire an heirloom. So go shooting, be safe and remember: Your mind is the weapon, everything else is just a tool.

Scott S – One Weapon Any Tool, Follow him on Facebook & Twitter @1weaponanytool

What as your first gun and what memories do you have of it. Let us know in the comments.

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