Another guest blog by our friend in the U.S Joshua Hicks, I’m sure many UK shooters can relate to Josh’s post and share similar memories of their first experiences of safe shooting with our family from a young age. We are always a little envious when we hear about the freedom and choice our US brothers have when it comes to firearms. Joshua also mentions his support for our .22 pistol petition. Surely all UK shooters support the principles of the petition and ensuring future generations can enjoy shooting in all its forms and create memories!
Gunpowder and Smiles
Joshua Hicks Certified Firearms Instructor
I remember like yesterday the first time I fired a gun. It was my dad’s Ithaca Model 600 over and under 12 gauge shotgun. I must have been about 13 years old, and I remember the sheer weight of the thing was tremendous. Lastly I remember the kick of it, nearly knocking me over when I pulled the trigger. Although it frightened me, it was a bonding experience I shared with my father that I wouldn’t trade for anything.
Soon after I turned 16 years old I fell in love with a Savage Mark II .22 caliber bolt-action rifle. As soon as I saw it in my local gun shop I knew I wanted it. Of course I couldn’t buy it myself so I talked my uncle into buying it for me. The walnut stock felt natural in my hands, like an extension of my own body. I took it up on the mountain behind our house and shot that rifle every day. Ammunition was far more plentiful, and far less expensive than today. I would easily shoot 250 rounds a day, some days I would shoot over 500. That rifle and I spent more time together than any of my friends. On my 18th birthday I bought myself a Savage Mark II semi-automatic rifle. My ammunition consumption nearly tripled, then I bought my first shotgun, an H&R 20 gauge single shot. I started spending most of my time on my cousin’s land and would easily burn through 500 rounds of .22 and 100 rounds of 20 gauge a day.
Times were good, this was of course prior to the economic recession, and the arms scare that made guns and ammo nearly impossible to get. When I turned 21 I started shooting pistols in addition to my rifles and shotguns. My first pistol was a Colt 1911a1, which was fun to shoot, but even then .45 ammunition was expensive. So I bought a Ruger p89 9mm that I absolutely loved. Eventually upgrading to a Glock 19 that I carried for over a year.
The truth is I love to shoot, having put over 70,000 rounds down range. Nothing compares to the feeling of seeing rounds hit a target. With competitive shooting comes the added thrill of pitting your skill against the skill others. When I was 26 I decided to go to Pistol Instructor School, in order to qualify I had to score 90% twice on a 10 inch (25.4cm) diameter target at 15 yards. There was really only one choice when it came to which gun to use, a Ruger MKIII .22 Bull Barrel. I trained for weeks, and scored 95%.
All this to say some of my greatest memories I had a gun in my hand, and I wouldn’t trade them for anything. That is why I support Firearms UK, and the right of UK citizens to have .22 caliber handguns for target shooting.