In 1941, when I was just 8, my father purchased a tract of land with a pond, and one day we were walking old paths on the property to learn the land. Our trek ended at an old fence just short of a marshy area with a large patch of cattails. Dad just had to take a shot at one with his Smith & Wesson K-22 Masterpiece revolver, and he slowly squeezed off three rounds at the cattails, but to no avail.
Comfortable around firearms, I asked for a try at the cattail. After a short lecture on the improbabilities of such an attempt, at mom’s insistence my father handed me the revolver. It’s difficult to explain the emotions of that moment, but I cocked the hammer and raised the .22 into position. A heavy gun for an 8-year-old, I had to lower the K-22 to gain fresh strength, and Dad, seeking to encourage me said, “OK, son. If you hit it, the revolver is yours.”
I pulled the gun back up and, when the barrel drifted across the cattail, I pulled the trigger. I remember how quiet it got as all eyes went to the cattail. It just stood there as if mocking me. Reluctantly I handed the S&W back to my father. Then suddenly, in movie-like slow motion, the cattail went down and hung by a sliver of its stalk.
After a few seconds my bewildered parents expressed their pride with pats and hugs, but my hands went out in anticipation of my prize. Shaking his head, dad unloaded the revolver and let me carry it back to the car. He warehoused it for me until I was old enough to keep it on my own. I’ve pulled many triggers since then, but no other firearm has ever had the feel of that K-22 and my first shot with it 79 years ago.