When I did finally get that rifle I had been longing for, I bought it myself. It was a single shot Western Field (mossberg made ’em for Monkey Wards) and it shot like crazy- I regularly shot it at 100 yards right down to 2001. Had a pretty heavy barrel, not out of any desire to make it more accurate, I think, but out of cheapness. Wards basically took a piece of bar stock, drilled it, reamed it, and machined the receiver directly into the same stock. The trigger was quite good, for a gun I bought at a flea market for $20, and I had a good time. I was nearly seventeen when I got it, and i had quite a good time shooting it. At the time, the hot round was a CCI stinger. I used to stop on my way home from work, buy two boxes of them and a pack of smokes, and go shoot the crows off of old man Mose’s barbed wire fence, where they sat waiting for the raccoons to tear down ears of corn.

I would make little deals with myself, I’d light another smoke when I hit twelve crows, or I’d drop five crows before I finished this smoke I had on the go. Sitting under the edge of the porch with a gallon of iced tea, old jeans and stained teeshirt, hundreds of crows dropped between the buckhorns of that back sight. I barely made a dent, and there were often as many as nine of us trying to keep the crows out of mose’s corn, and we still barely made a dent.

Those were my evenings for nearly a summer. Partner’s dad had a nice levergun, and he would occasionally let me shoot that, and I fell in love- but I did my best shooting with my own gun, because I shot it the most.

That fall as we went back to the farm for the family reunion, I took the rifle along- we were allowed to have 22’s and shotguns because there were always vermin that needed dealing with. We were sitting in the backyard when we heard commotion in the coop, so (anxious to show off my carefully acquired skills), I grabbed the 22 and sprinted to the coop (I could sprint in those days. Really!) just in time to see the fox ducking under the wire where he’d dug under. His head popped up the other side of the chicken wire, and quick as a wink, I popped him.

Pop was flabbergasted. Gramma was happy none of her chickens were harmed. I glowed with unabashed pride for the rest of the weekend. I don’t think anyone thought i had it in me. SO today’s lesson is simple: Shoot a lot. It pays off when it counts