.22 Ways To Having Fun

“A Remembrance”

Sometimes, our blessings can be a curse in disguise. With an accumulation of iron, stainless steel, wood and a touch of polymer stuffed in our safes, choosing what gun to shoot can be challenging. Throw in the numerous calibers, with a mixture of handloaded and factory fodder, it makes grabbing something for a day at the range near impossible as we start debating what we’re going to shoot.

Here’s Terry with a young Ethan Barranti showing him his custom Bowen .22 rimfire.

Terry Murbach

Sadly, this past Christmas season, I learned of the death of a dear friend, Terry Murbach. For those who didn’t know Terry, he was a character, and that’s an understatement! He would’ve been the perfect sidekick for the TV westerns, a hybrid of Chester, Festus, Gabby Hayes, mad scientist and Tasmanian devil, Terry was unique to say the least. He was also a “Gun Writer,” expert ballistician and factory rep for Corbon ammunition.

Beneath his curmudgeon-like, crusty ways beat a heart of gold, and I’m fortunate to have experienced it. I’d shoot with Terry on a yearly basis, and watching him, I leaned a lot from this experienced shooter. One of Terry’s favorite calibers was the humble .22 rimfire.

There’s no question, the .22’s are vast, different and fun!

.22’s And The Cycle Of Life

Most of us cut our shooting teeth with a .22 of some sort. For me, it was a Harrington & Richardson “Plainsman” bolt-action rifle for my 8th Birthday. Be it single-shot, bolt-action, semi-auto, pistol, revolver, or rifle, a .22 rimfire was chambered in all.

As kids, we’d go through buckets of .22 ammo. By shooting garden pests and vermin, we learned about trajectory and just how deadly the humble .22 was.

Most of us graduated to center-fire cartridges and bigger guns, sometimes forgetting about our meek, mild mannered mentor, sometimes for years. Then we’d be knocked back into reality seeing someone like Terry Murbach, sitting in his camp chair, elbows resting on his crossed left leg, shooting a favored Ruger Bearcat or maybe a custom Bowen Ruger Single-Six.

Taking in the scene of this experienced shooter and ballistician, who loaded for over 135 cartridges, Terry had the look of serenity and serious fun plastered on his face, resembling an 8-year old kid shooting for the first time. That’s the kind of power the .22 has.

Why beat yourself up with recoil and muzzle-blast, when you can sit all day in a favorite chair, leaning over and grabbing a handful of cartridges, enthusiastically loading your shooter. Each ejected piece of fired brass kicks out another present-day problem, taking us back to the days of our trouble-free youth.

Terry knew this, yet didn’t tout it, he just did it, as many savvy, experienced shooters do. What could be simpler? As Terry’s bulk box of Federal .22 ammo dwindled down, his perpetual frown started to disappear and an actual snaggle-toothed grin appeared beneath his matted beard. Funny how .22’s make that happen.

An Awakening

I must have learned something from Terry, as my paltry pile of .22’s is well diverse. A slew of single-sixes, both 3-screw and new models, followed by double-action shooters and a bearcat or two are in my pile. In fact, one of my fanciest .22’s is an engraved, color case-hardened Bearcat Shopkeeper. It’s a beauty of a gun, showcasing the skill of Bobby Tyler and Dale Bass. I’m proud as punch to own such a piece, and have decided to call it my “Murbach” gun, in honor of Terry.

I think Terry would be humbled by such an act, but deep down, I’d hope he’d know it was out of respect, admiration and fondness I had for the crazy coot with a heart of gold.

Childhood Fun

So if you haven’t been enjoying your .22’s, why don’t you dust off your guns and take them out for a spin. You just might shake up a memory or two and remember just how fun shooting the .22’s are. But keep it to yourself, now that .22 ammo is appearing on the shelves once again, we don’t want to cause a shortage by all the fun we’re having, or do we?

Here’s Tank’s newly named “Murbach” gun.

So Long, Ol’ Pard

Next year, at the Whittington Center, where a yearly rendezvous of sorts takes place in Raton, NM, there will be an empty spot forever on the firing line. Missing, will be an old fold-up camp chair with an old, folded up sourpuss, wearing a canvas vest, cowboy hat and boots, shooting a beloved .22 revolver.

Also missing will be shots and clangs of steel, followed by laughter, while shots and misses brought a wrath of cuss words. I smile and laugh, thinking of Terry, many will sorely miss him. And in the end, isn’t that how we all want to be remembered? Every outfit needs a sidekick and Terry was ours!

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