The Siren Song of the Shooting Range
In Mythology, the Sirens were beautiful creatures that would lull sailors into a trance with their music, enticing the ships to sail closer to shore. Once the sailors were fully engaged in listening, they would not realize how close they were to the rocks until it was too late, thus crashing the ship. The term “Siren Song” usually denotes a negative outcome from being beguiled with something. In the context here, it is not necessarily negative, but definitely involves being “beguiled”.
Think of the lead slinging friends you have that started down the path of “It will be cheaper to reload my own ammunition” only to realize two years later they have a room in their house dedicated to reloading supplies, a powder magazine and thousands of dollars’ worth of brass, bullets and assorted gadgets, not to mention a couple different reloading presses that look like machinery from Willy Wonka’s factory. The grass needs cutting, the refrigerator is almost empty and where is Dad? He is at the shooting range, testing his newest load. THIS is “The Siren Song of the Shooting Range”.
I am not saying that becoming a “Sportsman” will get you shipwrecked or that getting into shooting will bankrupt your family, because that is not really the case. What I am suggesting is that if you are not careful, you will find yourself with a pallet of Linotype in your driveway. You see the journey from “I want to cast my own bullets” to “I need another hundred pounds of lead…I’ll just polish my shoes and glue the sole back on with shoe goo” is a very short distance. Once you hear the music of the cartridge and smell the burning powder it is all downhill from there. Next thing you know, you are pawing through buckets of used brass at the range looking for cartridge cases that need to be put back into use. These things are “The Siren Song of the Shooting Range”.
“The Siren Song of the Shooting Range” is also the magnetism that shooting has, pulling you and drawing you to shoot, begging you to shoot. Thinking about shooting, hearing gun shots, the smell of gun powder, the thrill of pulling the trigger and feeling the pulse from the charge going off, these are all “The Siren Song of the Shooting Range”. I started shooting when I was 12. My Grandfather and my uncle were both members of a sportsman club and had been avid skeet shooters. My uncle took me sporadically and started teaching me to shoot, and then once I had the shooting bug, he took me every other week for a few years. The stories I have are long and varied, and if I live long enough and write often enough, I will share them. The end result is I became a “gun guy” but really a “rifle guy” by the time I was 13. When I was 14 and 15, I shot a borrowed M1 Garand a lot and loved it.
Sadly the days at the club ended when my uncle moved away. My Grandfather had passed away, and I had the privilege of showing him some great groups on targets before he passed away. Eventually my uncle passed away too. I grew up, got married and moved with my wife into a house in a new area. One day, while outside doing yard work, I heard the distinct crack/boom of a rifle. Then I heard it again. A short time later, I heard distant pistol fire and then more rifle fire. I could not believe it. I lived within hearing distance of a shooting range. “It must be pretty close” I thought. I needed to go find it. The Siren Song was calling me in. I drove around and found it. The club was a private range with skeet, pistol and rifle ranges. You had to know a member to apply for membership. I did not live far away but had just bought a home and did not know any members. I wanted to join and hoped someday I would.
Years went by, I would be outside and I would hear the Siren Song calling me, but still I was not a member of the club. So I found other public places to shoot and bought guns over the years and kept shooting once in a while but not consistently.
One day I got a call from a friend who wondered if I could bring an elderly man from our church to the gun range. He was a member of two shooting clubs and just needed someone to drive him and help him at the range. I agreed and contacted the man directly. This was the start a beautiful friendship and come to find out; my new shooting buddy was a LIFE MEMBER of the gun club near my house. The Siren Song was drawing me in once again, and this time I had a way to become a member of the club.
It has been a few years since I joined the private club, and I must admit I have enjoyed it immensely. I started reloading a few years ago, bullet casting after that, and now have a greater knowledge and love of shooting than I ever did before. I am a blessed man and thankful for the great people I have had in my life that kept me from crashing on the rocks, but still support me sailing on the sea. My elderly friend does not shoot as much anymore, but he is still my shooting buddy sometimes. My kids have started shooting and now my boys hear the Siren Song of the Shooting Range and ask to go shooting.
I try to keep a good balance to my life and make the most of every day. I am glad to have experiences to share and a perspective to make light of our idiosyncrasies. I hope you enjoyed my tale, and I would love to tell you more sometime. I need to stop writing now and go move a pallet out of my driveway so my wife can park her car.
John has been shooting since he was a kid and is now a middle aged man. He likes shooting rifles and handguns, reloading, bullet casting and the outdoors. He believes in God, freedom and a good sense of humor.