I was one of those kids who was always interested in projectiles of any sort. Throwing rocks at moving branches in the river, the injustice of my confiscated shanghai, marble cannons on the floor – if it flew and went thump or fell down at the end I was into it.
Dad had obviously picked up on this interest and took me to a rifle range in McLeans Island, out the back of Christchurch airport. My first shot was through a black powder rifle. The heavy overcast feel of that long, lazy Saturday afternoon viewed through the swaying open sights of the rifle, its heft, the gentle recoil and smell of powder are all distinct in my memory. It was a mystery where the shot went, and it established a tradition of not being able to hit a damned thing over 25 yards from a standing position. I’ll always remember the enthusiasm and kindness of that ‘first shot benefactor’. His generosity, enthusiasm and kindness helped to build one individual future for our sport. And the ripples continue. There might be something in that?
Adventures with urban air rifle duck hunting, compliments of my Dad’s good friend Kel continued my education. Christchurch, being a former swamp was criss-crossed by drainage streams, with any number of sticks, cans and town detritus floating by for target practise. After an air rifle session in the channel behind his house, he would let me clean his small but immaculate collection while he worked on RC aircraft. In my memory, the smell of gun oil and Van Hartog cigar smoke mingles with the deliberate weight and presence of walnut and steel. His hard but fair lessons on gun safety have stuck with me too. And good lessons they were too.
Life intervened and the bug was suppressed. Years passed; a suburban South Island upbringing. High school, English degree, a shift to Melbourne, teaching diploma and arrival in the Wimmera in Western Victoria followed. At a loose end one Saturday afternoon, a chance encounter with a soon to be life long friend, an afternoon with a .22-250 ensued and I was born again – the worst kind of zealot!
For me shooting is a much misunderstood pass time. The gentleness and precision of a rifle shot; the patience and stillness of hunting; the ‘no thought’ detachment and swing of shotgun shooting; the obsession for collecting, disassembling, reloading … the problem solving and process of finding and fixing faults. Ruger #1s and Martini Henry occupy too many of my thoughts, but I find something to love in all guns – just call me a hopeless romantic in that regard.
Outside of shooting, young Asher (pictured at right), is a source of great humour and
joy; fatherhood and marriage continue to amaze in ways I could never have imagined. He has about 3 ‘first guns’ at first count, and an endless curiosity and observant nature. He’s not mad on shooting yet, but is always watching parachutists close to his nanny’s place in this instance. In any case, I’m passionate about guns, shooting, life and helping you out, at least with the firearms part…