I was a teenager when my dad and I bought my first firearm. He worked at Sears & Roebuck, so we purchased the Winchester Model 200 Ted Williams edition 12-ga. pump-action that they sold there. I was thrilled with the gun, and my dad promptly enrolled me in a hunter safety course. He took me pheasant hunting in Iowa one winter with my uncle and cousins, a great memory. I didn’t shoot my shotgun much in college, and after graduating from West Point I got busy with the Army and my own family, so I didn’t shoot for years—except, of course, for mandatory military weapons qualifications.
I went downrange to Iraq for a year in 2010 and then to Afghanistan in 2014, and my dad passed away during my deployment to Afghanistan. After two combat tours, I started into recreational shooting again because it seemed to be therapeutic for me. I enjoyed trap and skeet so much that I would even go to the local gun range over lunch breaks just to shoot a couple of shells. I have subsequently purchased several other shotguns, and I alternate shooting all of them—but, even today, nothing shoots as well for me on the trap range as that first 12-ga. Model 200.
Every time I pick up my Winchester shotgun, I think of my dad and wish he was still with us. I feel bad that we didn’t spend more time together at the shooting range, and I worry that he didn’t know just how much I loved the shotgun that we purchased together all those years ago. Isn’t it strange how firearms are one of the few things that last for decades, creating remembrances that bind generations together?
My advice is this: Spend time with your loved ones, enjoying the outdoors, hunting and shooting, and celebrating the Second Amendment that allows us to create so many unique and special memories. And, to quote the old song, “Do it in the living years.” Robert Moore, Texas