"Well a few folks think I do," I replied.
"You know, I got me a little pistol in case some yahoo breaks in on Gertie and me.
"How do you like it?" I asked.
"Well, I haven't shot it yet. Gertie don't know about it."
"Then let's make plans to go shoot the thing Doc. You know what caliber it is?"
"38 I think."
"You bought it new, right?"
"OK, I'll bring the ammo, you just bring yourself and your gun."
So it was that Doc's old maroon Delta 88 followed me to the range today. He carried his Taurus revolver in a plastic briefcase wrapped in an oily rag. Doc was no high speed low drag operator, but he had made the choice to do what was necessary to defend himself and his bride.
My main thrust for Doc was simple safety and familiarization with the gun. We discussed the range rules and the Four Rules before going on the firing line. Once there, we shot at seven and ten yards. I stuck some high visibility targets up to help Doc's aging eyes see what he was aiming at.
Even though I encouraged double action shooting, Doc really preferred to shoot single action. His arthritic fingers lacked the strength to reliably pull the trigger without tremors. Doc could use some work on widening his stance, and a critique of his targets had to take into account that he might have been saving the ten rings for later. He did manage to stay on the cardboard, and there were times that he made the ten ring shiver with fear. All in all, I was happy with Doc's performance. The main thing is he has taken the step towards no longer being a potential victim.
Once Doc was on his way back home (with a stop on the way to pick up some bread, aspirin and a bouquet for Gertie) I turned my attention to my own guns. I took the new to me nickel Model 10 out of my range bag, along with my Gold Cup.
The Model 10 shot well, although I could not live up to it's potential today. The magna grips are not my choice when it comes to a "shootin' Smith" but I will probably keep them on the gun anyway. The Gold Cup, on the other hand, would likely shoot a smaller single hole if it were in more competent hands. Even so, it consistently amazes me when I shoot it.
I thought about Doc as I shot. Like many older people, the world he once knew had changed into something unrecognizable, something fearful. Unwilling to simply acquiesce to the inevitability of time, Doc decided to continue living, but to fortify himself against the dangers inherent in becoming old and frail. By choosing to arm himself, he chose to refuse frailty and again become the master of his fate. He would not be prey.
I would not want to be at the other end of Doc's revolver. He is a man of conviction, purpose and uncommon wisdom. Although the bulls eye laughed at him today, I have no doubt that Doc would not go down without a fight if he or his Gertie were threatened. Such is often the case with old men who have lived and loved long. They are the last victim a criminal would want to tangle with once the playing field is leveled with a gun. They are ready to accept death.
On the way home, I stopped to purchase my own bride a bouquet.