Letter Re: Practice, Cub Scouts, BB Guns, and the Old Guy

Dear Jim and Readers,
I want to start out with a little bit of pre-history. About five weeks ago I had my first heart attack, and the doc installed a stint. That was a wake-up call! Wow. Of course the subject by the doc was diet, lose the lard, get exercise. I started losing by cutting back, but I needed a bit more help. Work would be nice, it would help with my activity level plus I needed some extra finances to come in as some big bills were hitting all at once. So when all these things begin to get out of control I prayed. “Hey Lord, I need to lose all this fat, and I need enough money to pay my bills. YOU have never ever failed me, could you help me out on this one please”? Less than an hour later I got a phone call from our troops Boy Scout Master, who just happens to be our Scout Camp Ranger at Camp McLaughlin in the Crater Lake Council. “Hey Dave, are you free for the next four weeks? I got a job that pays a thousand dollars, ya want it?” Immediately I thought – Hmmmmm, that was sure quick Lord thanks! And answered – “Yes I will take it! What is it? (I really didn’t much care even if it was cleaning toilets, they get really messy there.) He said “You’re an ol’ sarg, could you help run the BB gun range, it would be a lot of fun?” ” Let me see– hold on a minute”. A short pause and short question to my dear loving wife, “Can I go away for a month and help run a BB gun range at the scout camp?” Her response, “I’ll help you pack!”. Back to the Camp ranger. “Yes she wants me to get some exercise, and start recovering from the heart attack, and doesn’t want me to get shot, when do I start?” “Be here tomorrow morning at seven and meet the boss and staff. And bring enough stuff to last you at least 4 days. You’ll be on 4 and off 3 days during the month.“ A few thoughts like “ Hmmm 0700, I haven’t gotten up that early in months, ahh I guess I can do that.” “Sure I’ll be there.” At 0500 I got up, showered, packed, and was out the door by 0545 with a cup of coffee. My go bag had most of my stuff, so the packing was easy.

It was a beautiful drive down the highway, with the sun coming up the drive across to the Crater Lake Highway. Up and across the valley to West Side Road was absolutely gorgeous. What a beautiful day to be on the flower side of the roots. It could have very well been the other way around. I was very thankful to our loving God. The time with Him and His beautiful creation was a real treat. “Thanks again, Lord”. Sixteen miles on West Side Road, to the 140 road to Medford, up the mountain about nine more miles and a mile south to the scout camp. The camp sits on the beautiful Lake of the Woods. Sixty one miles on the button, and ten minutes to spare. Hmmm, a bit over 55, but not much. I met my Scout Troop Master and my new boss, hmmmm younger than my 33 year old son. They were very appreciative that I would even consider the job.” Glad to do it, if it’s for the boys. They need good guidance and this helps me to get out from under my wife’s feet.” A bit later I met my new mentor, a fine retired Master Chief also named Dave. A bit older than me, and we hit it off quickly. I was his new shadow. We discovered we had something in common – we both had heart attacks within days of each other and both shared the same doctor.

We went to the range to prepare for the next group of cub scouts and almost an
equal number of parents. More groups started coming down a couple of hours later. Dave sat me down to read the Boy Scout BB gun range master chapter, and all the rules, etc. Not difficult, but it was sure hard to not call the BB gun a weapon, a BB a round and change from open the breach or chamber. The boy scout terminology is OPEN THE ACTION, BB gun, or rifle. But it’s not rifled. So BB gun works nice. After passing a test that was actually pretty easy for me once I learned the terminology of the Boy Scouts. I was issued a BB gun range officer certification. Wow, an ol’ retired guy, an expert marksman from my military days with the M-60, M-16, M-79, Ma duce, and not so expert at the time with the 1911A1, but now I am, and can add the SKS to it too. And now a BB gun. The first day was the safety spiel, the following two days was practice, competition and when possible chatting and shooting a bit with some real marksmen, and moms of the boys when time permitted.

I struck up some new friendships with some dads who had some of our readers common interests. There were several who were of like mind. In the evening after retreat, a few of us had time to talk. One told me it was really hard for the boys to correlate the big board we had with the sites and site picture painted on it to the actual site picture. So I said I would bring it up to other Dave, and we put our heads together. Our idea, was to take a BB gun and line the sites up on the target on the range exactly where the gun would hit the target for the bull. We did this with the sand bags. Then we took Dave’s cell phone and took about a dozen pictures trying to get just the right sight picture. When we finally got it, he went home and made copies of the best one and we laminated them so they could be handled over and over. We did enough for each firing position.

Next we presented the idea to a large group of scouts and their dads. There were two police officers in the group. Their eyes lit up, and one hollered WHAT A GREAT IDEA! He looked at the picture and wondered why no one had ever done that before. My past life I worked in a research lab as an engineering development tech, and helped develop lots of really great ideas ( like our automatic blood pressure cuffs), so my little synapses still work now and then, especially when I think something could be improved on.

Our first day with the photographs made our day so much easier. We used the picture before the first BB was ever fired and had the parents or ourselves hold the picture up in front of the barrel aligned with the sites. The boys would look and see what they were supposed to see in the picture and it worked great for the boys to find the correct site picture when they were aiming the rifle. Our day was very long but extremely satisfying. Our kids had a great time. We gave out tootsie rolls for ever hit in the X or that broke the line. By the end of two full sessions, three days each, we ran out of tootsie rolls. The candy chewers were really making our job easier. Of course we had to sit down with many boys to help them in learning how to hold the BB gun, get their breathing right, their cheek and shoulder weld the same each time, and squeeze the trigger, instead of jerking it. LOTS OF FUN for us old guys teaching these skills. I really enjoyed it.

All of our guns, and bows and arrows are all provided by grants from the NRA (a little plug for them). Even though I’m not a member, I’m now considering it. We also beg for grants from anyone who will help. There is a great need for positive role models to work with our youth.

OK, now to the meat of what I want to talk about. I had a lot of time to sit down at the table and check sites and put a lot of BB’s down range at about 31 feet. It gave me lots of time to practice. PRACTICE. I can’t afford to get 22 ammo right now at a cheap enough price that I want to blow money practicing my marksmanship. The thought came to me that this would be a good subject for Survivalblog. I was able to work on my breathing, concentration, site picture, sighting with all of the rifles, and most of all my trigger pull. These little guns can be used in almost any back yard, with a low hanging clothes line, a piece of old tent canvas to catch the BB’s and some good targets hung with cloths pins. Hmmm, my wife still uses them. Mom’s do you remember how to hang a shirt on the line? I was surprised how many kids that had never seen a cloths pin and the response was usually. ‘Nah! my mom uses a dryer.’ Well folks break out the cloths pins, line and start drying out side again. Oh you don’t need starch when you hang clothes on the line either. BB’s are cheap. The guns we used were about $50 dollars. You can copy targets off on your own printer.

I started cleaning out the bulls eye in 10 to 15 shots.

Another thing, add clothes pins to your trading larder for when the SHTF. All those boys moms are going to need them. I wonder how many. 22 rounds you could get for a pack of them.
I have really enjoyed having time to shoot, and enhance my skills, and cleaning up some bad habits. The boys were all a real blessing to work with. They were all great youngsters. They are our future leadership. If you ever get the chance to work with youngsters take it. The pay is very low, accommodations rustic (minus 5 stars) and food, worse than a bad GI mess hall, but that’s the FDA’s fault. Oh it is also a good way to meet like-minded people. I made several new friends who need some help with communications, my usual subjects. Looks like new opportunities are just around the corner.
Thank you Lord for the help and fun, I left 15 pounds and 4 inches behind too. Blessings to you all, – Dave of Oregon