Being the Middleman Has Always Been Advantageous

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By Tank Hoover

Too old to be young and too young to be considered old, the middleman reaps all the advantages of both. The “old” guys have a “been there and done that,” attitude. Something that is important to me is their firsthand knowledge and expertise. No classroom theory here. Experience is earned and cannot be bought!

The old guys know! Most are willing to share their knowledge. I always enjoy being around the “old” guys who still have a smile on their face, enjoy cracking jokes and “ragging” on someone to keep the mood light.

My uncle Jerry was probably my first “older” guy. When I was about seven, he taught me to shoot, hunt groundhogs, the skillful art of tastefully teasing — firsthand — to both toughen me up and teach me sarcastic humor, and how to dish it back. He was one of the best hunters I ever knew. He took his numerous nephews under his wing, mentoring, teasing and showing us how to become men.

He died at the age of 50, while hunting the mountains of WVA with three nephews in tow, one of which was me. Even to the end, he taught us something. Do what you love, when you can. You aren’t promised any tomorrows.

Listening to “old” guys can save you a lot of trouble if you just take the time to do it. Take advantage of it. I consider “old” guys like classic books, with built-in stories. Just take the time to read them and absorb their words of wisdom. These lovable, sore-headed grumps can be trying at times, but once you understand what makes them tick, the’re worth more than their weight in lead.

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Younger?

The younger guys have something to offer too, beyond muscle to help you lift heavy things into the truck. These generation “Y” (why?) guys grew up on, and think anything worthwhile, runs on some sort of power source. Everything interesting them is electronic. My own 17-year old daughter is a case in point. When visiting one of my “older” friends in Idaho a few years back, good friend Dick Thompson had a 10-shot S&W model 617 with a red dot sight on it for one of his competition guns. Samantha thought this was the coolest thing since her iPhone! She had never seen electronic sights before and was smitten at first sight. We shot till well after dark that night, as Samantha was having too much fun to stop shooting.

Speaking of smart phones, some younger friends of mine introduced something of interest to me. We were shooting long range at the NRA Whittington center High Power rifle range. There is a white buffalo silhouette target with a 16″ swinger 1,123 yards away. Using an APP from their smart phone, doping in the trajectory was child’s play. The program allowed you to plug in specific bullet, by weight, style, brand and model. Velocity was plugged in, while the GPS function took into account elevation, temperature and relative humidity. All this was calculated to figure out how many “clicks” were needed to be on-target. Pretty amazing stuff, and the impetus of this subject — I was impressed!

The younger guys are more prone to try out the newest, latest, greatest products that come out. I like to Tom Sawyer the “younger” guys to try ‘em out, spend their money and then get a report on it. If it sounds good, I may mention it to an “older” friend and get his feedback. After cogitating, I will make the decision to buy it and try it out, myself.

I love the history and roots of our past. It’s fun to relive how the Grand ol’ men of our sport did things, experience firsthand their findings, while at the same time experiencing some of the new ground-breaking products, techniques, and styles out there now. It’s a great time to be a handgunner today!

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Your Turn Too

And don’t fret when it’s your turn to be the “old” guy! By the time this transformation takes place, unbeknownst to you, you will have experienced and tried out a bunch of new stuff by being the middleman for so long. You will be the lovable, old curmudgeon everyone flocks to, to be “their” favorite “old” guy when you’re down at the range — and know something about everything. And if you don’t know it, it wasn’t worth knowing about in the first place. Or, you simply forgot, which might be the case too.

After all, you’re the ancient sourpuss everyone loves, and you have to, least sorta’, keep up the façade, eh?

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