I had the most amazing thing happen this past weekend. I had a reader/follower of the site take me shooting.
We had tried to set this up last month, but it fell through due to all the snow and ice. Last Saturday, the weather was perfect and we made good on our promise.
I’ll be honest though… When the offer was made, I tried to decline. After all, I have very few guns now, having been forced to sell most of them to keep the newspaper going back when it was in its start up phase and not making any money.
Additionally, I hadn’t shot a rifle in in seven or nine years. (Truthfully, I can’t remember the last time, and trying to remember based on the life-landmarks of divorces, near bankruptcies, and practically being homeless just isn’t much fun, so let’s just say it’s been a hell of a long time since I have shot a rifle.)
So I was worried to death I’d embarrass myself, and figured stating the truth — that the only rifle I still own is an ole’ lever action given to me from a deceased relative, and that I hadn’t shot in forever — might be enough of a reason to politely decline an incredible offer from a fellow veteran.
But, this veteran came back with the even more absurdly generous offer to bring his M14 (or the civilian version, the M1A) and all the gear we needed, PLUS ammo, AND he’d even come to Oak Ridge (where I live).
At that point, I just couldn’t say “no.” Not to mention, I’ve always dreamed of shooting an M14.
Thus, we made the shoot happen this past Saturday. It was truly an incredible day and since we shot from 200 and 300 yards with iron sights, complete with raised and lowered targets, it really took me back to my Marine Corps days.
Two things stand out from the day.
First, I had forgotten that real shooting is work. Sure, plinking at cans or stumps is fun. But when you back up to 200 or 300 yards, you’re going to be in very uncomfortable positions and you’re going to be concentrating at Zen-like levels. Additionally, if your arm’s not numb from a sling cutting it in half and your back’s not killing you from being bent over in the sitting position for thirteen minutes, then you’re probably not doing it right.
Secondly, it was incredible how giving many of the instructors were that day. It was an open shoot for mostly new shooters and there were many super experienced shooters there, who seemed happy to be teaching a bunch of newbies. Four or five of them, who I won’t name, were ranked national shooters, i.e. the best in the country who shoot in ferocious competitions at Camp Perry. These included several “Distinguished Riflemen,” “President’s 100” shooters, and at least one former National Champion.
The way these near legends just gave and gave last Saturday was nothing short of remarkable — and I found out afterward that it’s not out of the norm; they do this regularly.
So, to wrap up, I want to send out a huge word of thanks to Old Gyrene, who let me borrow his rifle and reminded me how a Marine should shoot, as well as all the instructors who helped make it happen that day.
It was truly an incredible day for a prior Marine who hadn’t shot in such a serious way for FAR TOO LONG, and it was really a remarkable feeling to have as an author. I mean, some guy I had never met found me on the internet, subscribed as a follower, enjoyed my books, and eventually wanted to meet me.
Is that not every author’s dream? (Add in that he’s a two-tour Vietnam vet, who earned a Purple Heart, and it’s just impossible to describe how honored and humbled I am by the entire experience.)
Again, thanks Old Gyrene, and all involved.
Keep the faith,
Stan R. Mitchell
About me: I’m a full-time, action-fiction author with books similar to Vince Flynn, Stephen Hunter, and Tom Clancy. I’m also a prior infantry Marine with Combat Action Ribbon, and a guy who spent 10+ years writing every day in the newspaper business. Please consider subscribing for email alerts — I mostly post about things that either motivate you, inspire you, or make you laugh.