I am sure many of the readers of The Shooter’s Log started out with a Daisy Red Ryder. Most will remember little Ralphie opening his Red Ryder on Christmas morning in A Christmas Story—or at least his mother’s warning about shooting his eye out with it. Others, such as myself, started with something owning a little more pep such as a Winchester Model 69A .22 Long Rifle—a bolt-action .22 LR that quickly taught me to make every shot count small game such as rabbits and squirrel. Fortunately, a few years after that, I got the Daisy and while Black Bart never crossed my path, I thoroughly enjoyed torturing my little green plastic army men in mock wars for months afterward. .22s were for live game and hunting, BB guns were for target practice and all around fun.
Of course, that was many years ago. Times were different then I suppose, and allowing my kids to shoot plastic army men today would likely be frowned upon by some advocacy group or another. However, some things still remain the same. While my children did not start out on little green plastic army men, air rifles and plastic guns shooting a laser pulse were standard fare before the doors were opened on the safe, and they had the opportunity to pick the gun or guns for their first trip to the sportsmen’s club with dad.
The same lessons of gun safety that my dad taught me were passed down to my children and few of their friends—along with a few extras for good measure. Thankfully, I believe we are overall much more conscious, or at least organized about the teaching of gun safety these days. Fortunately, or unfortunately for some, the same tears streamed down my children’s faces as they did mine. Some lessons were deemed so important as to warrant a sharp bark to engrain the gravity and importance, the fact that a bullet cannot be taken back, and “sorry” or a few days of punishment would not suffice as a remedy for carelessness with a firearm.
While my memories of learning to shoot, and those of teaching my children gun safety, are not quite the same as this video from Daisy, the enjoyment of the time spent afield and satisfaction in knowing my children were taught a proper respect and safety for firearms is much the same.
I suppose in the world of karma, I owe hundreds—more likely thousands—of little green army men an apology. However, to be honest, I still giggle, deep inside, at the thought of them cartwheeling through the air after a firecracker embedded in a small dirt mound exploded, or a line of them fell to a boy’s imagination powered by a trusty Daisy Red Ryder. I’ll bet some of you do too…
Share your story of your first rifle or introducing the next generation to the shooting sports and gun safety with other readers in the comment section.
Growing up in Pennsylvanias game-rich Allegany region, Dave Dolbee was introduced to whitetail hunting at a young age. At age 19 he bought his first bow while serving in the U.S. Navy, and began bowhunting after returning from Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm. Dave was a sponsored Pro Staff Shooter for several top archery companies during the 1990s and an Olympic hopeful holding up to 16 archery records at one point. During Daves writing career, he has written for several smaller publications as well as many major content providers such as Guns & Ammo, Shooting Times, Outdoor Life, Petersens Hunting, Rifle Shooter, Petersens Bowhunting, Bowhunter, Game & Fish magazines, Handguns, F.O.P Fraternal Order of Police, Archery Business, SHOT Business, OutdoorRoadmap.com, TheGearExpert.com and others. Dave is currently a staff writer for Cheaper Than Dirt!
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