Posted on October 18, 2022

Recreational Shooting - Gebo's

Some of my fondest memories of my childhood center around hunting and recreational shooting. As a child, my family lived about 30 miles from some sandhills in southeastern New Mexico and we would go out there on Saturdays regularly to play in the dunes, cook hotdogs and shoot my dad’s single-shot .22 rifle. It was during those fun times of target practice that my dad instilled in my sisters and I the key elements of firearm safety and respect that I’ve carried with me throughout my life.

For each outing, we would gather up any empty cans or bottles we could find and combine those with the ones we emptied while playing to use for targets. We would then proceed in a somewhat orderly fashion taking turns with the rifle.

I say “somewhat” because there was one outing where things kind of went off the rail. On that particular summer evening my older sister and I were joined by three cousins who were visiting, and who had never been around firearms. As usual, we got to our normal picnic spot and the five of us headed off to play in the sand for a while. When we got tired of that, we came back and set up the targets for some shooting.

We had decided that we would go in order according to age which meant that one of my cousins would go first. My dad went through his safety lesson, explained to her how to load the rifle and handed it to her, along with a bullet. She followed all of his directions, loaded up, took aim and fired.

Up to that point, everything had gone smoothly. Unfortunately, with the pulling of the trigger, chaos ensued, because on her very first shot, she hit a can . . . and went nuts.

“I hit it!” she screamed and promptly used the gun to help herself jump up by jamming it barrel first into the sand. As she ran to retrieve the can (which some 50 years later she still has) we pulled the .22 out of the sand. Just like that, the evening’s recreational shooting was over as a plug of sand at least an inch long clogged the barrel.

After that, my dad made an addition to his “this is how we handle a gun” speech. Don’t use your rifle for leverage to get up off the ground after you’ve made an impressive shot. 

Written by: Richard Porter

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