September 26th…“DID YOU EVER FIRE A PISTOL ON YOUR FARM IN MINNESOTA? WHAT WAS IT LIKE THE FIRST TIME?”
Blazing fire spewed from the muzzle of the 45 caliber Colt revolver that my hero, Roy Rogers, fired at those outlaws. Roy’s muscled arm held that powerful pistol steady as a rock as he’d “pour the lead” to those dastardly dudes hiding behind boulders as they cowered from the realization that their time was up and they’d better surrender. As this eager beaver fan, namely me, idolized Roy’s every move, I was amazed at how easy Roy Rogers made it look whenever he’d rip that pistol out of his holster and fire away without hardly any effort on his part to hold the gun in check and control.
A public school teacher was one of my local heroes, back in 1965. Even though he was not a cowboy, he had always impressed me with his handsome good looks (much like Roy Rogers). Mr. Larry Fosness was his name and I appreciated his smiling ways towards this impressionable 11 year old. Instead of riding a Palomino Stallion to our farm, this young man drove a sparkling 1965 Chevrolet Impala.
The cornfields surrounding our farm place were a haven for lots of Ring-Necked Pheasants…..especially towards Fall season. Somehow the word had gotten around town about this bounty and Mr. Fosness had contacted our farmer father for permission to hunt on our property. My dad granted that blessing to this man, so on one of his hunting excursions, he pulled into our yard and had something with him besides his shotgun. Larry pulled out a snub-nosed 22 caliber pistol. I was completely entranced by this firearm. It was the first time I had ever seen a handgun in real life. My teacher friend saw that I was mesmerized by his small caliber weapon, so he went into the safety aspects of how to hold it, aim it, load it, respect its power,etc..
It was as if I was gonna become an instant cowboy, right then and there!! Keep in mind, now, how Roy Rogers made this shooting thing look effortless. For me?….NOT! One thing Larry Fosness did NOT tell me about was what was going to happen the second I fully pulled back that trigger to fire the pistol. It was a phenomenon called “recoil”, also termed as the “kick” or “kickback”. In my gullible innocence, I imagined that this firearm experience was gonna be a “piece of cake” just as I had seen “my boy Roy” do a hundred times in the Western movies and TV shows. Right? WRONG!!!
There I was, about to take my first shot ever with a pistol. I was the consummate “Mr. Clueless” as I raised the pistol up and straight in front of me to take aim at some insignificant tree out in our woods. I slowly squeezed the trigger, and then BANG!!! In a nanosecond, that pistol, attached to the end of my arm, is now straight UP in the air above my head!!! I’m aghast in disbelief as I look up to see the pistol ABOVE my head and wondering, “How in the heck did it get up there?……Roy Roger’s gun never did that!!!” A belly laugh poured out of Mr. Fosness as he enjoyed the naive ways of this little boy in front of him. He then explained what’s called “recoil” and how the short barrel of this gun “kicks away” as the bullet leaves the weapon. I think Roy Rogers would’ve had a good laugh, too, at this inexperienced novice who remains an ever-learning Norwegian Farmer’s Son. 😉