By Don McDougall
United States -(AmmoLand.com)- At the time, I was instructing rifle for the local Marine JROTC program.
The local school district was opposed to anything military so while even as a formalized group they received zero in the way of support from their district. A dozen donated “springers” from another program, and some targets got them started.
They took their safety tests and basic instruction and began their practice. In Southern California, these kids were mostly “dreamers” though they would never call themselves that; and while the school district had a graduation rate of less than 30% this group was in the 90’s. I can honestly say these kids wanted to be Americans, they were then and are now the finest group of young patriots I’ve ever met.
One afternoon after we were done for the day a young man walked up to me, saluted and said, “Sir! I have studied the manuals for every firearm used by the USMC in WWII and feel I am proficient with them Sir!” He looked exhausted. Confessing this took it all out of him.
“Ah. No saluting and no Sir,” I said. “We’re just here to learn to shoot.” He responded quickly… “Yes Sir, but I have studied.” I cut him off, “Would you like to shoot a 1911 made by Colt and used in WWII?”
So to his credit he didn’t faint, he just kind of stood there jaw open and nodded his head. 20+ years ago I bought an old BTS 1911. It needed a lot of work, but it was cheap. (The slide was cracked for one thing.) Well, slides can be replaced, and it was only after I brought her home that I notice the U.S. Army and 1942 date on the frame. The gun got a new slide, Bomar Sights, trigger job and a Wilson Barrel and was my spare combat gun for a few decades. Now I use it to amaze and mesmerize children!
So with only ONE in the gun and a PERFECT isosceles stance, our young master raised the gun … nothing happens. So I asked – “Did you release the safety?”… click…Ok, that was good. So again: Inhale brings the firearm up, relax, focus on the front sight. Still nothing. “Are you squeezing the trigger?” Yes, he replies, I’m pulling as hard as I can! Gently I reach over and add pressure to his trigger finger. BANG! Or Pew! Whatever image you want, and the round actually hit a gong out at the 50-meter mark. “But I pulled the trigger hard and..” “Don’t worry about it what you had was called Trigger inhibition, your trying so hard you send mixed messages to your muscles… You’ll need to watch that in “other things” when you get older” I thought it was a funny line … Then I hear giggling behind me. Two of the girls are there, both about 15 snickering and having eased dropped.
There is only one response to this conversation; I had them take a lap around the parking lot.
As for Mr. I’ve studied every gun; I had him take a drink, do some stretching and a few dry fires. Then once relaxed he put seven rounds on the gong at 50 meters like a champ. The girls hooted and hollered and cheered him on. 15-year-old girls can run like the wind when they want to.
All three of the kids involved are off to college this year. They are all fine young Americans.
The obvious lesson here is to be careful about what you say and what kids can overhear. More importantly this shows how little it takes to get a shooting program off the ground. The School District originally opposed this program, but after it was underway and the results started to show up (over a few years) that changed.
“Write what you know. That should leave you with a lot of free time.” ― Howard Nemerov
About Don McDougall:
Don McDougall is an NRA instructor and member of the Los Padres “Friends of the NRA” committee. If he’s not at the range you will find him setting the record straight with on gun issues and gun safety on AmmoLand Shooting Sports News.