Passing Down the Legacy of Firearms
There can be little doubt we live in a trying age, where the actions of a few mentally deranged individuals threaten an entire way of life for some of the more law-abiding citizens in the populous. Firearms are an incredible responsibility, one that must be taken seriously. Although we may practice the four safety rules religiously, there is a greater responsibility that is not always discussed, the legacy of firearms.
I grew up around guns, it was part of my heritage. I did not marvel or paw at the rifles and shotguns which were racked on the wall because there was no mystery to me—my natural curiosity had been satisfied with trips in the field. I knew what the guns could do and did not have to wonder.
I entered the field of law enforcement at an early age and my knowledge and skills with firearms went from recreational to professional. This caused me to think about my upbringing and that of my own children. How would I address the complex issues (especially these days) surrounding firearms with them?
START THEM OFF RIGHT
Henry has some amazing options to start young shooters out so the method was a simple answer. One of the first parts about creating a legacy is starting with quality components, things that will last. Properly maintained Henry rifles will provide service for lifetimes, allowing my children to pass on their guns to their children. In addition, they will pass on the associated knowledge and responsibility.
Getting kids to put down their screens for a few minutes is a daunting task these days, I understand. But if you consider the goal-oriented nature of what is happening in their electronic endeavors you soon find they are craving accomplishments through adversity. The digital medium they are using is simply keeping this fire alive. It is our responsibility to return them to the analog, show them how careful aim, trigger control, and breathing can result in a successful shot.
As a firearms instructor I have learned to not overwhelm new students with too much gun. Bad experiences can stick with new shooters for a long time. When we set out to take our 5-year-old daughter out to shoot we got her a Henry Single Shot .22 in pink and purple Muddy Girl camouflage. It was love at first sight. For my 12-year-old son, we picked up a beautiful Golden Boy Youth, also in .22. My son had shot before but his most recent memory was the sound and recoil of a .308 rifle. He proceeded with trepidation despite assurances all would be well.
Because of videogames my children had advanced information on what firearms did. My son likely has millions of rounds downrange in various digital settings, but that does not translate to the real experience of the crack of a bullet, the gun bucking in your hands, the whiff of gunpowder, or the ring of a steel target. It also doesn’t teach them the critical firearms safety rules.
Using an empty, lever-action BB gun my wife and I talked about and demonstrated the four hallowed rules and had the children practice good muzzle discipline. It was a great analog to the Henrys and we could see both children warming to the idea. Children need structure, discipline, and this is a wonderful opportunity to impart both. Once everyone demonstrated good understanding, we headed to the range.
Starting with a small splatter target at a short distance, my daughter sat in my lap when it was time for the first live round. There, I was able to see and control every little detail. I helped her load, aim, and then fire. A smile crept across her face despite the cold wind that was blowing. Her pink nails matched her gun and her gun also matched her purple glasses. The identical Muddy Girl ear pro were the final touch. Understanding these things were important to her, I was all too happy to encourage.
With my son, I showed him how to load, then demonstrated firing his Golden Boy before handing it to him. When he charged the weapon and fired, I could tell he was nervous. After the shot rang out, he looked at me and asked if that was it. I smiled and said yes. He was so relieved, he began to enjoy himself immensely, firing the entire magazine and wanting to shoot more.
We also brought along a classic .22 Lever Action Henry and my wife fired it (happy wife=happy life), quickly growing accustomed to working the lever and enjoying the light recoil of the small rimfire. Thankfully, I got to play too and I patterened a Henry single shot .410 shotgun with gorgeous woodwork on the buttstock. In my mind, time froze briefly and I realized we were all enjoying the same activity, outdoors—together, and having a lot of fun! No one was downstairs on a console, no one was playing with the tablet on the couch. We were all there in the real world enjoying our Henrys and not distracted by devices.
The legacy of firearms includes a responsibility to teach our children about them. They need the comfort with guns that can only come from knowledge. Their education will bolster them when people with ignorant arguments try to pursue anti-gun agendas. Our children may not grow up to be like us. They may never become IPSC shooters, hunters, police officers or gun collectors and this is okay, but we need them to at least understand this way of life.
A few of our children will become legislators. Most of our children will be voting and they need to have enough comprehensive information about guns to not be swayed by fear-mongering. I have seen bills pass into law that were clearly written by people with a lot of passion, but no knowledge of firearms. With enough good representatives of firearms owning citizens, the shady comparison with the criminal element cannot easily be made.
For my family, the first step was getting some Henrys to introduce my children to this way of life. The guns will become a part of our tradition, creating a long-lasting legacy that starts with them and continues through the generations. Each descendant who passes the gun down will also pass on the responsibility that comes with gun ownership thus ensuring this way of life—a legacy. Heraclitus believed character is destiny. Which traits will you pass on to your children?
I’d like to thank Liberty Firearms Institute for being my local Henry dealer as well as handling transfers. In addition, I owe thanks to Pawnee Sportsmen Center and Aguila ammo for making this family fun possible. Finally, special thanks to Henry for making heirloom-worthy firearms to begin the legacy in my family.