A few years later when I entered Junior High a man down the street sponsored a NRA Junior gun club at the school. A friend and I called him and he invited us to come try it out. They met every Friday at the National Guard Armory. I went the very next Friday night. I was instantly hooked. As the club leader said, "any one can learn to shoot. All it takes is time and a car (rail road car) full of ammunition."
The club owned a number of single shot bolt action .22's with target sights They did the job. But some of the slightly older kids had some really nice target rifles. One evening one of the members who worked at a local gun shop called and said he knew of a nice rifle for sale if I was interested. The following weekend we took it to an outdoor range and on a windy Oklahoma day but a box of shells through a whole you could cover with a dime (ok, yes, used a bench vice). That night Dad wrote the owner a check for $125 for a gently used Winchester 52 D Target model with bull barrel and accessory rail. I found the canceled check just the other day.
Over the next several years I shot a few thousand rounds through it, earned various NRA marksmanship awards and attended a few matches. How did I do? "Old men forget and all shall be forgotten but he will remember with advantages the feats he had on that day... " That's Shakespeare.
When I was eight years old all my neighborhood friends were getting BB guns. I wanted one too.... REAL bad! Christmas was coming soon so I asked my dad if I could get a BB gun for Christmas.
He thought long and hard and finally said "No" BB guns get used as toys, kids shoot porch lights, neighbors' cats and all too often, each other, he explained. I've heard enough stories from friends to know he was right. His solution was to promise me that on my net birthday, still a number of months away, he would get me a .22. There would be no mistake, this was not a toy. It was a real gun, to be handled and shot only under his supervision.
Christmas came and went. Even more of my friends got BB guns. My friends were jealous of my promise of a real gun in my future and I was jealous of their BB guns in their possession. It was a long time to my birthday in the middle of summer.
Dad was observant. He saw how now, since Christmas every boy on our block had a BB gun. In two or three months he asked if I'd like a late Christmas present. That evening we went to Andy Anderson's Sporting Goods on 39th Street (for all my Oklahoma City friends).
For months I had been drooling over pictures of the Browning semi-auto .22 and thought I had my mind made up. The salesman showed us one of those. Then he said, "Let me show you something new that we just started carrying," and he brought out a Ruger 10/22 carbine. I was only eight years old and never have been big. The 10/22 was a perfect fit. I fell in love with it and we took it home.
I still have that gun and I still love it. In spite of a few thousand rounds, hours in the brush plinking and hunting rabbits and even my son dropping it (sorry... had to tell.. .no blood no foul) it still looks and shoots like it's brand new.
Recently I did a little research on the Ruger 10/22 in general and mine specifically, calling Ruger with the serial number to find out when it was made.
Ruger introduced the 10/22 in August 1964. Mine was manufactured in February 1965. Dad paid around $60 bucks for it. Ah those were the days. Now if I could just find some .22 LR ammo to shoot...
"I have more guns than I need but not as many as I want." Fmr Sen. Phil Graham, R, TX
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