Le Morte d'Barbie
My elder daughter looked out the window at the early spring sun shining on the remnants of snow in the corners of the yard yesterday afternoon, and said, "You need to take me shooting."
Damn. She's right.
59 degrees. Good sun (but with clouds on the horizon). I had no excuse. Time to take the kid shooting.
First, a trip to Hell, to acquire better ear protection, better eye protection, and more ammo.
Then, I put together targets for the range.
Old vegetables? Check.
Paper plates marked with different letters of the alphabet in different colors?* Check.
My nine year-old hollered as we started out the door: "Wait! One more target!"
She came to me displaying an older, more coarse, female doll, naturally denuded of her Mattel-supplied couture. "I have to shoot this Barbie," she said.
I looked to her mother. "Please," she said. "I've been telling her to throw that doll away for weeks. She hates it. The hair never looks right. She pulled its head off the other night."
Off to the range.
_ _ _
"What are the four rules of gun safety?" I asked as I stopped the car and turned off the ignition. We were at the range. "In any order."
"Uh..." my daughter began. Fine. I'd give her five seconds, and then start the car again. No skin off my nose.
3. . .
2. . .
"'All guns are always loaded!'" she blurted out triumphantly.
"And?" I asked.
"'Never point a gun at anything you're not ready to immediately destroy!" she shouted.
"Next!" I commanded.
"'Always be certain of your target and its backstop'," she quoted, confidently now. I knew she remembered the last one, so I didn't push her.
"And finally, 'Never put your finger in the trigger guard until the moment that you're ready to fire,'" she said.
"Why are these rules important?" I demanded.
"Because they prevent tragedies," she said simply.
"Good enough. Let's get out of the car," I said.
_ _ _
I took out the biggest .22 I had. I put foam plugs in her ears, and put electronic earmuffs over those, turned up full blast. If I had something to say to her, she damned well better hear me.
I put on youth-dimensioned eye protection over her eyes.
I had her load the magazine with some CB caps that I'd bought for warm-up, and had her shoot some soft drink cans that I tossed out on the ground.
Oops. CB caps, out of a full-sized rifle, with doubled hearing protection, meant that she had NO feedback. After a magazine of her asking me if it had gone off while she perforated a Big K can, I switched to Long Rifle rounds, and a smaller rifle.
The smaller rifle is an old Marlin Model 80G that was my mom's father's, and was used to dispatch many a skunk that was on its way into his hen house in Alamogordo, NM. It's got the old brass bead front sight and a shallow notch rear sight, which were de rigueur in the 1950s and 1960s, but doesn't yield the best of sight pictures. It requires that I re-explain sight pictures to my daughter. This particular copy was unfortunately mistreated by someone, between its purchase sometime around 1960 and the time that my great uncle passed it on to my mother and me in the late 1980s. The bluing on the barrel has largely been replaced by what would charitably be called "patina," and the stock gives witness to treatment one might behind the seat of a pickup. But it's handy, and light, and my daughter likes it for that reason. She merrily began slapping the swinging plates and cans as I called them out for her.
Then the rain came. Not much, but the sprinkling turned to a thin drizzle, and you could see that it was going to get heavier. (It did-- we got about 2 inches last night.)
"Time to go, sweetie," I said. "I'm sorry."
"Daddy, can I please shoot the doll? PLEASE?!?" she begged.
Well, I'm not one to be pestered, but I had said that she could bring a reactive target with her to shoot. I had brought a rather tired potato that had a bad hoe mark on it. Last time we came, my daughter made applesauce of an old mealy apple that was getting wrinkly. Reactive targets make shooting fun, and while fathers have for many years traditionally shot up items of produce "to show what happens," --supposedly in an important lesson into understanding the power of a firearm and the responsibility that entails (which is a good and noble goal, and I'm not knocking that)-- mostly, we just like to shoot things, too.
So, in the rain, my daughter put up the unfortunately doomed Barbie doll.
She backed up about 15 yards, and shoots the doll. The hair moved. She shot again. The hair moved. "Are you shooting for the head?" I asked.
"Yeah, I wanted to see it fly off," she grinned.
"We're getting wet," I said. "Shoot it in the middle."
Sigh. "Okay," she said, and put a bullet through the abdomen of the Chinese-made, nude doll. In her haste to smack it again, she didn't set the bead into the shallow notch, and shot over it, as seen in this crappy MP4 video that my obsolete camera recorded without sound.
She shot it again, making pieces fall out of the sky. She went to one significant piece that had landed to the side, and laughed as sherealized that the piece that she was picking up was the plastic doll's butt.
"Pick 'em all up," I said. "Leave no pieces out here."
She wanted to shoot it again, so I handed her my mother's Model 36 that I had picked up her house last week, to clean for her. My daughter put 5 rounds of .38 Special 110g Winchester Silvertips into the mess that had once been the doll. Given that she had never fired a double action revolver before, I thought that she did fairly well. I squeezed off a round or two as well, and we picked up and left as the sky really opened up.
It was destructive.
It was questionable.
It was fun.
I think she's hooked.
_ _ _
*"Red!" "A!" "Blue!" "C!" Call out a number, and have the shooter put a hole through it. It's a fun divided attention game.