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Well, I took the S&W Model 18 .22LR out for the first time today…

I went to the local conservation club to shoot, they have a very nice pistol range with covered shooting benches and rests, and dirt banks set up at 15, 25, and 50 yards. When I got to the range there was a nice wooden sign out front that said “Welcome Jakes!” As I pulled in I quickly figured out that the range was closed for Jakes Day, put on by the NWTF to encourage younger shooters. I stopped at the club house to make sure that the lower pistol range was closed too, and talked to a one of the fine volunteers that was helping to make this possible for the kids. He gave me a tour of what they were doing. They had a spot for the kids to shoot muzzle-loaders, .22’s, bow and arrows, load they’re own 20 gauge shell, and take a shot at a clay pigeon from the trap house, Safari Club Int. had a walk in trailer setup so the kids could go inside and see mounts from all over the world, and a big old ice cream wagon (that seemed to be the most popular stop) for the kids to get a treat.

Anyway the range was closed. As I still wanted to shoot, and try this gun out, it was time to move on to less occupied ground. I could have shot at home, but its Saturday, and I wanted to shoot at least a couple hundred rounds, and didn’t feel like putting the neighbors though all that. As I thought about where I could shoot, I remembered this little clearing way back in the state forest where I could drive back too. It takes a 4-wheel drive to get there as the road is not much more than a sandy goat path and is a little far back for the casual hiker. So I went down the road, turned off on the little two- track and put my Colorado in 4-wheel drive.

I got back to the clearing just as the day was starting to warm up a little. It was about 75 and sunny with just a few high fluffy clouds and little breeze that makes things as comfortable as you can be. I walked out into the field with my range bag, and target stand and set them up underneath a huge old oak tree in the middle of the clearing; might as well have a little shade to shoot this old Smith. I set my target up, stapled on a couple sheet, paced off 7 yards and rubbed a good line in the dirt to use as a marker. I figured I might as well get used to this gun before I stepped back to 10 and 15 yards to see what she would really do. Time to finally shoot my new gun…

I brought her up cocked the hammer, and was totally surprised at how light the single action trigger pull was. The shot went low by about two inches, as I really wasn’t even on target when she went off. So I steadied my aim, lightened my touch, and put the next 5 rounds in a neat little one inch circle just left of the bull…and then a smile spread across my face. Oh boy, now that is fun. I loaded the gun back up, and squeezed off six in DA and put them in a nice little circle just below the bull. I’m now as happy as the proverbial pig in poo.

I ran through a bunch more rounds, dropping the brass smartly into my hand, and putting all the little empty cases into my vest pocket. This isn’t the range, and I’m not about to throw my empties on the ground. I backed up to 15 yards, and ran through a bunch more ammo. Oh how this gun can shoot, she points like a shotgun, and comes up to the eye like a dream…

I am in love.

After an hour or so of firing some bulk ammo and smiling like those kids at the Jake’s day shoot, I decided that it was time to head back. I took the long way back down the goat path with the radio off, and the windows rolled down. I watched the scenery go slowly by and I thought a lot about this little .22 revolver.

I thought about how when I was around 12 or so, and dad had an old .22 Marlin tube feeder he always let me shoot (you know the one, with the cheap wood with the squirrel carved into the stock). Dad kept me in .22 ammo almost all the time growing up, and if he didn’t have the money at the end of the week for more, I would ride my bike picking up soda and beer bottles to turn in for deposit (They’re worth 10 cents here), and it didn’t take many to buy 50 rounds of .22 shells back then. I would ride my bike the 5 miles into town picking up bottles along the way. I would stop by the grocery store turn in the bottles, and then head to the hard ware store to buy what I could. Mr. Dorgan who ran it was a mean old cuss, but he had a soft spot for kids, and was always nice to us. If we were a few cents short on the ammo, he’s just tell us, that’s OK, just pay it back next time. With the ammo in my pocket, I’d ride back home, all set to take that old beat up Marlin out in the morning.

I shot with my buddy Josh most of the time when we were kids. He lived about 2 miles down the road, but if you took the trail we had through the woods it was probably only a mile. We’d walk out into the woods and shoot tin cans all summer long. I can remember phrases from a long time ago like, I bet you can’t shoot that knot hole in that old maple tree, or, what-a you give me, if I can put 10 in a row in that old soup can. Or my favorite, hey John, how come when ever Ms. Miller calls on you in English class your ears always turn red? I never could shoot all that well after he teased me about Ms. Miller.

In late summer, the black birds would start to gather, and we would shoot the little buggers by the hundreds. We always figured the farmers were happy as we did our best to keep the little thieves from eating all that fallen grain. We had lofty ambitions even in those days. As summer turned to fall, it was time to start hunting squirrels. We would get up before dark and meet half way on that old trail, and wait for sunrise. First thing in the morning the grays and foxes like to bark a little and it makes them easy to find when they’re high up in the maples, oaks, and walnuts that dominated our little portion of Michigan. We could shoot our limit each, walk home our separate ways, and start cleaning squirrels. Mom was good at cooking those little buggers, and whatever we couldn’t eat the elderly neighbors were always happy to get. What a fine meal we had from those tree rats, a beat up old Marlin, and a pocket full of .22 shells. Last I heard Josh is living in Turkey teaching English to business men.

I thought about the ammo we used to get, didn’t have bulk packs back then. You got 50 round boxes from Peters, Winchester, Remington, and if you had enough money (to be used only for squirrel hunting) CCI Mini Mags. They also sold a cheap Chinese brand called Clayco, but dad always told me not to buy them as they shot so dirty they looked like little black powder rounds going off. Those little boxes could just slide in your pocket, and held just the right amount to get you through a day or so of shooting black birds. I may just have to stop buying .22’s in bulk.

Then I thought about Jeremy who was in my grade, and how when we were 13 he shot a burglar trying to get into his house with a little .22, and sent him running for his car. There had been a rash of break-ins in the area we lived in, and Jeremy like most of us, went out after school every day when they got home and hunted with our .22’s. Well he just got around the back of his house next to a big stand of blue spruce, when this old car pulled into his driveway. Not knowing who it was, he crawled underneath one of those old pines, and lay down to watch. That feller walked up to the house, knocked on the door, and when no one answered let himself right in, nobody locked their doors then. When the feller came back out carrying their TV Jeremy took aim with his .22 and shot him right in the back side. Well he dropped that TV, screamed like a woman, and got in his car and drove away down that old dirt road as fast as he could…we never had another break-in. Jeremy parents called the police when they got home, he told the officer what he did, and when the police man asked him why he shot him in the butt, Jeremy bravely said, “I didn’t want to kill him, just teach him that it ain’t right to go around stealing TV’s”. The cop shook his hand, told him he was very brave, and they left it at that. Rural justice I guess. That story still floats around town.

On the drive out, as I picked my way down that two-track I thought about some of the other guns I own, my P89 in stainless that shoots like a dream, and the GP100 with its 6” barrel and full lug. They’re great guns, and will do everything I could ever want them too. But plinking away with a 15 round clips of 9mm just isn’t the same (it feels to much like practice, and reminds me to much why it’s important to be prepared), and shooting a couple hundred.357’s or .38’s is too darn expensive, and will give me a head ache to boot. Nope this old .22 with it’s simple wooden stocks, and 4” barrel is just about perfect for taking out to the woods, and remembering the all the things we used to do with our beat up old guns.

I hope all the Jakes at the gun club get to shoot the barrels out of their own Marlins and Rugers. I doubt it though, not with all those parents standing around, and the safety squads making sure everything goes as planned. Maybe those days are gone for kids now, and that’s too bad, because there’s nothing like it. Guns like these don’t need covered ranges, and dirt back stops, just a little room to shoot…and remember.

As for how it shoots, well, I can hit an old tin can at 25 yards with it just about every time, so I think it shoots absolutely perfect. I think I’ll call her Judy in honor of Ms. Miller.

Betch-ya can’t hit that can with all six shots…Bet I can.

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Great read John. Thanks for taking me along.

Molon Labe


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6,115 Posts
good read..........
wish more places had a "Jake Day" as we would all benefit..............

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2,093 Posts
I appreciate the good read and thanks to the schooling you had to write so well. You've brought back a lot of memories I've had of times gone bye. Like sitting in the lawn chairs with some good friends trying to best each other with out shootin' skills. Bouncing cans off the fence and down the road. Even that time we shot a bag fill of fireworks with a M1 Garand and confiscated tracers :roll: .
Thanks for bringing back some long repressed memories. I'm sitting here with a smile on my face that I'm sure will last the afternoon.
Somebody get Ms Natalie over here to read this. Maybe it'll let her see what we like so much about this hobby.
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