Wednesday, January 26, 2011

You'll shoot your eye out kid

I had a BB gun at an early age. Not sure how young I was when I got one but it was definitely in elementary school. The standard Daisy model. I don't know if it was a Red Rider model and it definitely didn't have a compass in the stock. When BB guns are new they work well, not lethal to anything but small birds when they are new, but they quickly wear out to a point when the firepower becomes a joke and a boy begins to get creative.

When I first got it, had to be a christmas present, I read in the instructions that you could make a suitable target for practice out of a cardboard box that was filled with crumpled newspaper. It was a great idea and I had soon built my very own super duper target practice box to shoot at. The bonus part of it was that the box would capture the BB's and I could retrieve them and use them over and over again. The instruction expressly forbade this practice but I figured it was just a marketing ploy to make me buy new BB's all the time. Now it gets weird for the first time. It was the middle of winter and there was nowhere to shoot. So I set the target in the hallway between the kitchen and my room. And I shot at it. Over and over and over and over till it was shredded. Pump. Click. Whooomp. Whap. Repeat. My parents were home. They allowed it. They had to listen to it long into the night. What an amazing display of poor parental decision making and loving tolerance. Maybe listening to the BB gun go off over and over again was better than listening to my mouth going off over and over again. That's probably the real answer.

I shot my first little bird the next day. I cried and buried my first little bird the same day. Lesson learned.

I would gather large acorns from around the yard and would line them up on a raised concrete walkway that went around the front of our house. I would stand at one end and shoot the acorns off the walkway on the other end. I would do this for hours inspecting each and every acorn for accuracy and inspecting the damage I had caused. I would save up my money and would get my granddad to take me to OTASCO where I would buy big boxes of BB's to use.

After a while I moved my way up to shooting at little plastic cowboys and indians. They were like the little green army men but were bright red and blue and yellow, not green like the army men. In the woods, little green army men would all be lost in a day. I would create elaborate gun battles between the cowboys and the indians with me playing fulltime quarterback for both sides. I would take a shot from the cowboys side then would switch and shoot from the indians side. I would set them up all over the woods and would run and shoot and entertain myself for hours and days and weeks on end.

Eventually the BB gun would lose it's power to where you would have to aim at a fortyfive degree angle to get a BB to travel ten feet. So I made up my own game of chicken. I would go into a clear area where there were no trees overhead and I would pile up crunchy dead leave all over the place. I would put on a cowboy hat and I would aim straight up in the air and shoot. Immediately I would drop my head forward so the brim of my hat protected my head and shoulders and would put my hands at my side and I would wait and listen to where the BB would land, of course trying to hit myself on the head. I would listen intently and the BB would land in the leaves near me and I would hear it and then I would recalculated my aiming angles and the wind and would try again over and over. It was like playing solitaire. Chicken solitaire.

My weirdest and darkest moment with my BB gun was right before it died completely. A BB would barely even come out of the gun so I got the idea to see what else would shoot out of it. And wouldn't you know it, dry spaghetti worked perfect. I would put a stick of spaghetti down the barrel of the gun, cock it and shoot and the spaghetti would come rocketing out the end. It was a load of fun to play with but spaghetti has awful aerodynamic qualities. I was limited to very short range shooting. So I went off in to the woods armed with a bag of spaghetti looking for a target. Oddly enough I happened upon a small clearing that was absolutely full of tree frogs. They jumped every which way when I walked thru them and then the idea hit me. I loaded. Aimed. Shot. The spaghetti went right thru the frog and into the soft ground. Meanwhile the poor frog would still be alive jumping up and down on this stick of spaghetti till the insides of the frog got the spaghetti moist and then it would fall over. I don't think I ever shot any other living things with the BB gun but frogs held my attention at least for a couple of days.

My world was always about being outdoors and about searching for answers and about experimenting and testing boundaries. But spaghetti in a BB gun? That was out there, even for me.


  1. In trying to think up ideas to suggest you write about, using BB guns to impale frogs was very near the top of my list. Also, crashing a bike through your grandparents' screen door.

  2. Welcome to my demented world! You, of all people, dominated many of my elementary and middle school years and memories and experiences. You know I cleaned up and shortened the frog impaling story to sanitize it a bit. My daughters absolutely love to hear that story. I haven't even begun the split-rock stories or any of a zillion others. If you think of something send it my way! Thanks for looking in on me.