Grace, I had all the confidence in the world that you’d ace your Tennessee Hunter Education course.
Grandfatherly pride told me so, even if Grandma was trying to be supportive by cautioning that it’d be no big deal if you didn’t pass your 100-question test on your first try. Grandmas tend to worry about things like that.
I wasn’t concerned, at least not enough to show, anyway. You’ve always illustrated a keen aptitude toward book learning and have always inhaled information to the point where you both amaze and amuse me.
But to score a 92 was a feat well worthy of high praise.
Grandpa especially got a chuckle when after each night’s instructional installment you’d call and tell me what you learned.
Knowing the parts of a firearm and the kinds of fireams’ actions out there is pretty neat. But what set apart those conversations were your quotations of the 10 Commandments of Firearms Safety.
No one is ever too old to be reminded of those rules, either. Not even us grumpy grandfathers, and I appreciated the way you sounded off on some of them.
I could tell that you were pretty nervous, though, about taking the final exam.
That’s to be expected. Grandpa and Grandma had similar butterflies when we took our hunter education course many years ago - as did your mother.
Remember, too, Grace, that your mom had to take the course twice in order to pass the exam - and she was way older than your nine years.
The rules, ethics and information you were given by your instructors will serve you well, too, even if you don’t ever hunt. (Which I hope that you will).
Such guidance demonstrates an understanding that a firearm is not a toy.
That is why I had no qualms about visiting the local Gander Mountain store the day after you passed your exam and buying your first-ever firearm; a Rossi combination .22-caliber rifle and .410-guage shotgun. The take-down firearm features a barrel for each.
It’s nothing fancy but it will get the job done whether you’re just plinking away at empty soda cans, clay targets or a squirrel.
And when your sisters and brothers take and pass their hunter education courses, then Grandma and I will buy each of them their own firearm, too.
Grace, using a firearm is tasked with a heavy responsibility. It carries with it the full measure of taking into account everything that surrounds you when you’re about to shoot.
I’m sure your instructors mentioned that once you squeeze the trigger you can’t call back the bullet or load of shotgun pellets. Once those projectiles are released they will charge forward, for good or for ill.
That’s why I expect that you’ll pay close attention to what your father says when you’re on the range and ready to shoot your new firearm.
It’s also why your dad will keep the firearm under lock and key until you go to the range.
And once you are there don’t forget to wear your safety shooting glasses and hearing protection, which Grandma and I bought for you as well. Both are important tools for protecting your health and likewise demonstrate your admittance to the family of firearms ownership.
Grace, you’re old enough and mature enough, Grandpa believes, to handle this level of trust. The fact that you did so well on your test and memorized the rules just reinforces my confidence in you.
Just how you’ll use your new-found instruction and new firearm is for you to decide.
But you’ve taken yet another step on the road to adulthood and I hope that I can join you at some juncture on your journey. Maybe we can even take Berry hunting together.
That’s what all grandpas always wish for anyway.
I’m so proud of you, Grace, and so lucky that you are my granddaughter.
Your Loving Grandfather
- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn