Guns of Our Fathers: My first gun, the bolt-action single-shot .22

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Article and photos by Bob Shell

Like many youngsters during that period of time, my first real gun was a bolt action single shot 22. In fact not only did I have to work the bolt I had to cock it each time it was shot. Prior to that I had a Daisy BB gun which saw much use. Even at the tender age of 11 I was hooked on guns and shooting.

This was during the 1950’s and we didn’t have a lot of money to support my shooting habit. We lived out in the country so finding a place to shoot wasn’t a problem. My dad liked to hunt so I frequently had an opportunity to go with him on various trips. Getting the money didn’t turn out to be a major issue either as I wasn’t adverse to work. We lived across the highway from a country club so I would go over there daily and find soda bottles and good golf balls to turn in for a little cash. In addition, my grandmother and a few of her friends did a lot of canning of various fruits and vegetables. Since they made jellies, I went around picking various berries for them. That included currents, gooseberries and wild strawberries. In addition, we had a raspberry patch. I would pick these berries and get a few cents a quart which went to the store to buy a box or two of 22’s.

Back in those days we didn’t whine about lack of money but rather figured out a way to earn a little if we wanted to shoot. Then as now I wanted to shoot as much as possible. I just never saw a problem with earning my shooting money and I learned a few life’s lessons by doing that. With my BB gun, I shot mice at my neighbor’s chicken coops for which he gave me a few cents. A .22 was too dangerous in the coops hence the use of the Daisy. Not only did all of that practice keep me occupied it improved my marksmanship making me a good shot. When I turned 12 or 13 I was given a bolt-action 12-gauge shotgun for my birthday. Early on I found that shotgun shells were more expensive but that didn’t deter me from shooting it whenever possible.

Bob Shell is a writer for international magazines, whose areas of expertise are old guns, reloading and various product reviews and similar topics. He owns a small ammunition business which specializes in hard-to-get and obsolete ammo.

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