Better And Better

If you don't draw yours, I won't draw mine. A police officer, working in the small town that he lives in, focusing on family and shooting and coffee, and occasionally putting some people in jail.

Monday, March 10, 2008

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.

Cans? 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.

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At Monday, March 10, 2008 5:27:00 PM, Blogger Ted said...

Out-freaking-standing. I wish my dad had spent more time doing this with me when I was young.

Heck, I wish more parents would do this with their kids, period.

At Monday, March 10, 2008 5:31:00 PM, Blogger Bonnie said...

Yeah. That's awesome.

At Monday, March 10, 2008 6:14:00 PM, Blogger Assrot said...

I got the biggest ass whoopin' of my life when I was about 11 years old for "borrowing" several of my sisters' Barbies. (I'm equal opportunity. I took one from each sister so that gave me 5 dolls.)

My friends and I leaned them up against the pumphouse and had a good old time putting about 50 rounds apiece of .22 into them.

Unfortunately just as we were finishing off the last box of ammo, my Granny and my sisters all pulled in the driveway.

Of course all my friends hauled ass and left me standing there amidst 5 rifles, 5 very dead barbies and a pump house full of holes with a couple of the holes through the tank and one through the pump.

My Granny made me go cut my own hickory switch and tore my ass up right there in the yard for the whole world to see.

I took it like a man though. I was not going to cry in front of my sisters no matter how bad it hurt.

I spent the entire summer working with my papaw in the fields to pay for the dolls and the repairs to the pump, tank and pumphouse.

None of my friends came around for about 6 months after that. I kept their rifles until they paid me their share of the damages.

We do some dumb stuff as kids. I sure enjoyed the heck out of it though even if it did cost me 3 months work and a behind I couldn't sit on for a week.

Cute kid you got there Matt. She reminds me of my grand daughter. She is about to turn 10. I think its high time I got her out to the range.

Her brother is 13 and I've had him shooting since he was 9. He has a nice little gun collection already started thanks to his papaw. (That'd be me.)

I bought my daughter a nice safe to keep the guns in so nobody gets mischievous like I did.

My grandson is a good kid and very safe with guns but kids are kids. He is not allowed to handle his guns without an adult around to keep an eye on him.

Things down here aren't like they used to be. The whining gun banners even see a gun and they start calling the cops and writing the newspaper, waving thier arms and the spittle starts flying and on and on, ad nauseaum. If they had their way I'd be in jail for buying the guns for him.

I actually bought them, gave them to my daughter with the stipulation that they become his property when he is old enough to legally own them and does not have anything against him that would make me not want him to have guns.

I taught my daughters well. One is a cop. The other was military but got out of the service just about a year before 9/11. I'm sure they will teach my grandchildren the same way I taught them.

So far they are all great kids that have never given me cause to worry.

We need to keep the American way alive and teach our children well. Looks like to me you're doing a fine job of it too. Seems to me your parents did a great job as well.

Molon Labe Buddy,


At Monday, March 10, 2008 6:35:00 PM, Blogger breda said...

Oh my gosh - I am laughing so hard at Blown-up Barbie!!!

Thank you for posting this (& thanks for producing another fine chick with a gun!)

At Monday, March 10, 2008 6:43:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your daughter had the right idea. With Barbie, it's important to go for the head shot. Otherwise she rises from the grave three days later. Why else do you think the head can spin a full 360 degrees? Where ELSE have we seen that little trick before?

I've started my girls on a .22 as well. Elder can barely handle a 10/22 but it's too big for Younger. So I went out an bought one of those bright pink Crickett rifles.

Younger still had a problem acquiring a sight picture, so I ordered the scope mount and then slapped a Tasco $x on it. After I finished zeroing the scope I handed Younger the rifle. Her forst shot at about seven yards was less than an inch away from the bullseye. Not bad for her first cordite experience!

I use an indoor range so reactive targets like vanilla wafers and soft produce are contra-indicated. Your setup sounds like a lot of fun.

At Monday, March 10, 2008 8:44:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Two points, Matt.

1. I KNEW where "Hell" was and clicked on it anyway. Shame on me. ;-)
2. That was really good to read about how both of you approach both the safety and the enjoyment of it all.

Thanks for sharing that one.

At Monday, March 10, 2008 9:08:00 PM, Blogger Zdogk9 said...

You done good

At Monday, March 10, 2008 9:12:00 PM, Blogger HollyB said...

She DEFINITELY takes after her Daddy!;wantin' to go for the head shot.

I seem to remember a certain day at some range...a target with all these holes at the following me here?

At Monday, March 10, 2008 9:46:00 PM, Blogger J.R.Shirley said...

Good on ya. I wish my dad had known to have me use ear pro.

At Monday, March 10, 2008 10:14:00 PM, Blogger Old NFO said...

Excellent! You made a 'game' out of the 4 rules, taught her right and let her splatter a veggie or two in addition to the doll... I am always glad to see parents taking children to the range and training them correctly!

At Tuesday, March 11, 2008 8:24:00 AM, Blogger phlegmfatale said...

imho, females never look lovelier than when they're having a grand time. She's beautiful!

At Tuesday, March 11, 2008 10:24:00 AM, Blogger Yuri Orlov said...

Just fantastic! My two daughters are already begging me to take them to the range and the younger is only four.

At Tuesday, March 11, 2008 5:32:00 PM, Blogger CrankyProf said...

If I send you a Barney doll that a relative got us, will you give it the same treatment?

At Tuesday, March 11, 2008 5:43:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Nice placement on that head shot!

Later, when it's time, make sure that all 'first dates' are range trips - even if you're not along.

At Tuesday, March 11, 2008 7:22:00 PM, Blogger Ride Fast said...

Outstanding. Carry on.

At Wednesday, March 12, 2008 4:18:00 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

That's awesome.

I hope I'll be able to post something similar when Lyra's old enough for the Four Rules and a junior-stocked .22 bolt-action.

At Wednesday, March 12, 2008 8:10:00 AM, Blogger JPG said...

It's nice when a parent sees his/her teaching bearing fruit. When Matt's younger brother was yet quite young we three were watching a movie one evening. After some notably poor onscreen firearms manipulation, David muttered, "There's a violation of Rule Four." He wasn't even showing off, merely commenting on someone else's lack of knowledge.

Makes an auld da' proud.

At Wednesday, March 12, 2008 1:16:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, I thought it was a joke when I heard that everyone in Texas owns a gun! Guess I was wrong.

At Wednesday, March 12, 2008 9:00:00 PM, Blogger mdmnm said...

"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....

My very, very favorite part! A young lady with a future in marksmanship!

At Thursday, March 13, 2008 10:47:00 PM, Blogger EE said...


Seriously awesome.

The head shot comment was great.

My future children are going to start shooting as soon as they're old enough...or rather, mature if I could just get my husband to the range. Haha.

At Tuesday, March 18, 2008 12:54:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love it! We just bought our daughter a pink (yes, pink, I couldn't help myself) .22 youth rifle to put back for her because it was on sale. (she's only 14 months, but hey? why not? It's in the gun safe for the big day) my question old was she when you first decided to teach her? I was taught young but neither my father or I can remember what age. Thanks!


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