Despite the fact that my father is getting old and frail, he is still fearless and tough as nails. He always says exactly what he means because he figures he doesn’t have time for beating around the bush. When I picked up my new Smith & Wesson J-Frame, my father pretty much demanded that I take him to shoot it. It had been years since we had been to the range together. We determined the best position for him to shoot from was sitting using a sand bag as a rest. It had been literally a couple of decades since he had fired a handgun. His frail hands gripped the revolver as best he could with fingers contorted by arthritis. His first shot was a bad pull. I noticed his hands shaking and put my hand on his shoulder. “Just like you taught me” I coached. I could hear him begin to regulate his breathing. He was remembering how to do this. His second shot was on the paper. His third, fourth and fifth shots were in the silhouette. I loaded several more cylinders for him. With each shot, a little more muscle memory returned and his groups got smaller. Standing over him coaching him brought back a memory from roughly 40 years earlier when he taught me how to shoot a revolver. I remember being terrified by the size of the gun, as I was a small kid. I was resting on a phone book he had given me when he saw I was having trouble holding the gun steady. With some instruction, I was eventually hitting bowling pins. The click of the hammer on an empty cylinder brought me back to the present. “I think I’m done,” my father said as he handed me back the revolver. He was getting tired. As we made our way back to my car I found myself almost overcome with a sense of gratitude. I was grateful that my 77-year-old father could still come to the range with me. It’s far more than that though. He is still present in my life. His wisdom and “pull no punches” style of advice can still help prevent me from making bad decisions. I’m so grateful that my dad is here for me. I think it’s difficult for a child not to take a parent for granted. I think we’re built that way.
– Andy Merciers