I was thinking a few days ago about what Christmas movies I needed to watch over the next couple weeks and of course “A Christmas Story” came to mind (just a couple seconds before "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation" and "Die Hard").
I’ve always been able to identify with Ralphie and his obsession with having a Daisy Red Rider BB gun. “You’ll put your eye out!” was everyone’s response including the mall Santa because they thought it was just too dangerous for a child to have. Everyone except his father of course. He knew what it meant to get your first gun even if it was only capable of killing cans or putting holes in a few paper targets. He understood that it was a rite of passage and much more than a toy. Your Red Rider allowed you to imagine hunting Alaska, the Rocky Mountains, or even deepest darkest Africa. It was capable of handling everything from viscious squirrels to the most dangerous Cape Buffalo and Kodiak Bear.
I still have my first BB gun and it sits alongside all my other firearms in the cabinet just like it should. I can almost remember when my brother and I got our new guns for Christmas over 35 years ago. Those gifts were the greatest things ever and I’m quite sure we slept with them the first few nights. They were much loved and used to the point of near being worn out. So much so that I’m sure my parents were driven nearly insane from the sound of “Click…..Creeeeeeek… Clack……..Pffft…Ping” of my brother and I shooting in the basement. We had a miniature shooting range set up down there with boxes semi –full of newspaper for backstops that we could retrieve BB’s from rather than having to replenish our supply every week. We went through reams of targets while growing up and practicing our shooting skills; and spent hours competing against each other for pretend titles and imaginary trophies.
Those first guns stoked our desire to get into the woods and fields in search of bigger game and greater challenges, while at the same time, teaching us how to take care of our possessions and of course, practice safe gun handling. Whether it was a BB gun or the high powered rifles that came later, we were taught to treat them with equal care and respect. We never came close to putting our eyes out (as far as anyone knows…).
The Daisy Red Rider is still on the wish list of many youngsters across the country and I can ‘t think of a better way to bring a smile to the face of a budding outdoorsman. You might even discover the next Olympic champion shooter in your family. Just be sure to pick up a healthy supply of BB’s and a lot of targets….You’re going to need them!
Brian “Beastman” Eastman