When “Too Much” Is Just Right …


Who says “stock” can’t be stunning? This is a vintage Korth showcased
by a rayskin portfolio. Let your expectations grow beyond the safe full of
high-cap auto pistols you might have now.

Roy’s wife, Suzi, owns this stunner of a Model 65. She shoots it
and simply enjoys it each and every time she does.

When I learned to SCUBA dive in the middle ’80s, my first “real” dive was in a training pool. Before we went in, the instructor said, “Okay, so once you get over the fact you’re actually breathing underwater, start to think about what’s happening, what you’re doing, how to handle emergencies and actually look around you and appreciate what you see.”

Sure enough, the first five minutes, all I could think about was, “Holy cow, I’m breathing underwater! Hey, look at me, I’m breathing underwater! Look at all those bubbles! Gosh!”

But as time passed, the novelty wore off, and I began to really learn about being a diver. The skills I learned paid off to help me get a slot in our agency’s Harbor Unit, where I became one of our department divers. But the ability to get past that initial astonishment was important.

So why does this matter to us? A shooter’s life journey usually goes along similarly. They shoot a gun for the first time, or buy a first gun, shoot it, then can’t help thinking, “Heck, this is great! What fun! I can’t believe I’m shooting a real gun! This is more fun than I thought. I want to shoot it a whole lot more too!” Remember?

Now comes the important part of the process though. Many people stop there. They have one gun, they shoot it, they repeat, “Gosh, I’m shooting a gun!” but don’t really ever get past that. It’s the same experience simply repeated over and over again. The key is to look down the road and figure out where it might lead. Learn to get better, to reload, learn history, to question ideas and simply to be interested beyond making empty brass.

Get past the polymer and go for it, like this engraved 1911. Even a modest —
but still personal gun — helps you to push the envelope on your taste,
skills and the sheer fun of shooting.

This is the first Damascus slide 1911 ever built, created by Tussey Custom for
Roy in 1998. It was the March cover gun that year for GUNS Magazine. Keep pushing
yourself to grow, learn and participate in outside-of-the-box thinking. It’s often surprisingly
affordable and always satisfying.

Messing With Boats

The term comes from The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame. They’re a great line of books for adults, sneakily masquerading as children’s books. If you keep your mind open, there are life lessons galore. If you don’t know the books, they are about small animals in the woods, but these animals talk and are as sophisticated as anyone you’ll ever meet. Maybe more.

In one part, Mole and Rat are rowing up a river in Rat’s boat. They are chatting about things in general and nautical things in particular, prompting Rat to say:

“Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing — absolutely nothing — half so much worth doing as simply messing around in boats. Simply messing … about in boats — or with boats. In or out of ’em, it doesn’t matter. Nothing seems really to matter, that’s the charm of it. Whether you get away, or whether you don’t; whether you arrive at your destination or whether you reach somewhere else, or whether you never get anywhere at all, you’re always busy, and you never do anything in particular; and when you’ve done it there’s always something else to do, and you can do it if you like, but you’d much better not.”

To me, Mr. Rat is talking about shooting too. Once you get your feet real and truly wet shooting and decide it’s going to be part of your life, you’ll soon find “messing about” with shooting to be satisfying, enjoyable, sociable and rewarding. The freedom to putter, guess, explore, find limits, discover no limits and learn to hone your tastes can be some of the most gratifying experiences you might have.

The key here, at least to me, is once you’re past the “I’m breathing underwater” stage, is to grow, learn and discover the hidden secrets behind the guns and gear we all love. When you find yourself wishing beyond that first polymer pistol, you’ll know the real journey is beginning. As your tastes broaden, become more sophisticated, and your yearning for knowledge grows, the bars for your expectations will rise accordingly. If you’re always on your tip-toes reaching for the next bar, you’ll find your enthusiasm for all things guns to continue to remain fresh, undeniable and fulfilling.

Just don’t stop at that first single-shot .22 — or plastic pistol. Enjoy them, yes, learn from them, indeed, but never think it stops there — because it doesn’t. When you find yourself eyeing the Bowen Classic Arms website, passing a surprising amount of time clicking on gun photos on the Turnbull Restorations site, or when you find yourself far down the rabbit hole of looking at “Just one more picture of engraved guns” — you’ll know you’re headed in the right direction.

“Working” guns are one thing, but the sublime satisfaction of owning something
like this single action from Bowen Classic Arms ramps the game up!

There comes a time for an all-out swing for the fence project and this
Ted Yost boxed set of gun and tools epitomizes it. Don’t lower your
expectations — strive toward them.

What Is Too Much?

I haven’t found it quite yet. It seems with every custom gun project (“No, really, this is the last one, I promise …”) I find new doors opening, new ideas flooding my dreams. When a satisfying group appears as if by magic on my target, it makes me wonder the how’s and why’s behind it — and if it can be better. That leads me to further exploration with reloading ideas, calls to fellows who know more than I do, talks with barrel makers, wondering why one rifle stock shoots better than another.

The key here is to “keep messing about with boats.” And always — always — continue to aim high with your dreams. Never accept adequate as the final word. And by all means, enjoy!

For more info: TurnbullRestoration.com, NighthawkCustom.com, BowenClassicArms.com

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