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Fear & Loading: Father’s Day

Fear & Loading: Father’s Day

The odds good it was under the unblinking eyes of your dad when you the essentials of safety, staying focused on your target, concentration and the understanding that past failures don’t determine the success of your next shot—in fact, learning from them can build a solid foundation toward reaching your goals. It’s amazing the life’s lessons learned, one shot at a time at the range.

Whether your education came while you were behind a trigger—and commanding his undivided attention—or firearms weren’t part of your family tradition at all, good fathers always find a way to teach those skills required to excel. Make sure he hears a “thank you” on Sunday.

My father (he still has his eyes on me above) died a few years ago, so I won’t get to say it in person, but I’ll sure be thinking about the time we spent out of doors. There were lots of fishing, camping, hiking and rock-collecting trips, but hunting and shooting were special occasions.

The old single-shot, .22 Remington I learned on is still hanging my wall, as it did in his house. I was taught very young that guns were not to be touched unless an adult was present and permission was granted. Ammunition and the bolts were stored in a different room, just in case I guess. The fact they were not toys was reinforced early and often. Even when friends visited, they received the same lecture until dad knew the message was received, loud and clear.

Mom worked, guns were visible, and kids my age were coming over after school. Today child protective services would probably be called, but I shot that .22 at an early age and understood the reasons it commanded respect and utmost safety.  

Nearly all of my friends’ parents—some of whom went to their graves never touching a gun—never complained, I surmise because the rules were strictly enforced and openly shared with any adult who asked. We were allowed to look, but it wasn’t until dad came home from work that we could touch, and even then we had to wait until he checked it was unloaded, explained how to do so and then each of us would follow the same procedure before it was in our hands.

One mother did pay my parents a visit to “inquire” about the guns, expressing concern that her son was often over after school. If there was anything impolite in the conversation, I didn’t hear it. She was pleasant, friendly and when she left understood how to check a gun’s status—that much I did hear. My friend was over the next day and many more.

No one ever got hurt and somewhere along the line, I learned safety comes first in everything, each shot demands complete concentration and the best bet for success, in anything, is to stay focused on the target—and so did my friends.

A big “thank you” goes out to dad, and all the other fathers out there who continue to provide life lessons—oftentimes behind a trigger—that are impossible to teach in school.

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