Monday, April 30, 2012

Flight of the Silver Pigeon

by Rick Chisholm -- guest contributor

    It was a fine, late summer’s day when the phone rang at my parents residence. I was staying with them at the time, as I worked to pay-off some student debt. On the phone was a gentleman from a gun store in a nearby city who wished to speak with me. After the oft-occurring  confusion caused by my father and I sharing first names, we got the correct Rick on the phone. The man quickly informed me that I had entered a contest and subsequently won. At the time I could not recall entering a contest, but the prospect of winning anything from a gun shop was rather thrilling. The voice on the phone rattled off quite a few details, which I immediately forgot. The call ended and I stood there with my father looking at me,

    “Well?” He said.

    “I won a gun.”

    “Really?” He seemed almost dubious. “What kind?”

    “The guy said Silver-something, Silver Pigeon maybe.” I advised.

    “Never heard of it.”

    “Me neither, I think he said it’s a Beretta.” I explained excitedly.

    My father frowned.

    My head was filled with images of Martin Riggs gunning down bad guys with a 92FS, in the blockbuster Lethal Weapon series, perhaps the Silver Pigeon was a special version of the iconic Beretta pistol. I had high hopes. My father, however was likely secretly praying that it was not a pistol.

    My Dad and I arranged a little trip to the city to collect my new gun. As soon as the salesman brought out the large box, my hopes of a free pistol were immediately dashed.  Dad seemed pleasantly surprised though. The salesman explained it was a 12 gauge over/under, yadda, yadda, yadda -- I think my lack of enthusiasm was evident, and he saw an opportunity to make me a deal. While Dad watched quietly from the sidelines, the salesman courted me with tantalizing samples of “equivalent” firearms he was willing to substitute for the Beretta. A parade of “cool” rifles and shotguns proceeded, with each came a subtle but disapproving look from my Dad. I begrudgingly conceded to his experience and wisdom and eventually left the store with the Beretta box under my arm and a scowl on my face.

    On the trip home, my Dad advised me that if I wished to sell the gun, I would do best to do so privately and to maximize my price I would have to leave it in the box and not shoot it.

    Not shoot it! I was floored, it was bad enough to leave the store without some kind of black semi-auto, paramilitary rifle, but to arrive home with nothing more than a box that I dare not open was too much to bear.

    In the end though, the decision was mine and I opened the box and stood in awe at the beauty it contained. The Silver Pigeon was a magnificent shotgun, gorgeous wood and intricate engraving, right then I understood that my Dad was again right. I assembled the Silver Pigeon and fondly caressed that gun for the next few hours, taking in every last detail. I carried it around like a new baby, in fact, the gun barely left my side for the next few days.

The Silver Pigeon III

     I am truly of the belief that a gun needs to be fired to be fully appreciated, and although I was not certain if I would keep the Silver Pigeon or not, I took it outside and fired a few rounds. I marveled at how good the gun felt in my hand and how naturally it came up to my shoulder, I imagined pheasants rising from tall, brown grass and being taken cleanly on the wing.

    A couple weeks later I disembarked on a journey, first crewing a yacht on a 2000 mile cruise, followed by a cross Canada trip which drained my resources. I called my Dad from the West Coast and asked him to sell my new shotgun, at the time the need to eat and pay for lodging superseded my need for having a fine shotgun in my collection.

    To this day, selling the Beretta is one of my biggest regrets, and to be honest, I regret selling practically all the guns I have offloaded over the years. Yet, that Beretta was exceptional, I think partially due to the fact that I acquired it during a time of upheaval in my life and partially because it represents a rare but special instance of camaraderie between my late father and me. Now that I am older with a family of my own, I realize just how right he was about a great many things, and how his subtle guidance was so important as I grew up. Someday I will replace the Beretta I let slip away, and I will share it with my son, and whether we journey to the field or the range, I know my Dad will be there with us, looking down with that wry grin that says,

    “I told you so.”

Rick Chisholm is an IT Security Officer and guest contributor for the Beretta Blog. He can be reached on Twitter under the handle @rickchisholm

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This post and its contents are the views and opinions of the author only, and do not represent those of Beretta.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Passing the Torch: Freedom to Fire Part 2

By Austin Selph –Guest Contributor

(Part 2 of 4)
As I mentioned in part one of the Freedom to Fire series, I didn’t grow up with guns in my household (a tragedy, to say the least). Luckily I had some outside influences in the form of extended family and friends to help push me in the right direction.

Generally (and hopefully), most people don’t just stumble upon a firearm and try to “figure things out.” At some point in time, the majority of us have had a specific person or group of people to mentor us in to the world of firearms.

So, let’s talk about being a mentor. This is the guy or gal who teaches you the dos and don’ts of what being a gun owner and operator is all about. Almost every gun owner had a mentor at some point, and most have or are in the process of passing along their tips, tricks, and experience to someone else.

So here’s my story:

I grew up in the concrete jungle of suburban Dallas. Believe it or not, the cul-de-sac is not the most appropriate location for a kid trying to squeeze off a few rounds. Go figure! My parents weren’t gun owners and the few friends I knew, who grew up with guns, didn’t have parents willing to put a firearm in my hands. Can you say rough life?

My mentor, cousin Jeff
Then, one fateful day, my family took a trip to Arkansas to visit a few extended family members. This is where my journey begins. My cousin Jeff (well, second cousin if we’re getting technical) took me out to some family land to do some shooting. I truly felt the freedom that comes with a single pull of the trigger. It was an experience like none other that left me hungry for more. Since then I have taken every opportunity to hit the range or get in the deer stand, even when other activities should probably take priority!

Over the last 15 years, Jeff has mentored me in areas of gun safety and protocol and continues to pass on the multi-generational firearm and hunting experience that his father passed on to him.

The mentor/mentee relationship builds a lifelong bond through a passion for firearms. It almost sounds silly to say that guns bring people together but, trust me, it works!

And... one question: who mentored you? Or who are you mentoring? Remember your skills are only one generation away from extinction if you don’t pass it on. Find someone to mentor!

Austin Selph is a guest contributor for the Beretta Blog. He can be reached on Twitter or Facebook.

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This post and its contents are the views and opinions of the author only, and do not represent those of Beretta.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Hello, Texas? You can have your star back…

by Phil Mcnaughton- Guest Contributor
This is a Texas Star target. 
It is a common array at practical and steel shooting events.  The 5 plates at the points of the star are the actual targets.  Shoot a plate, it falls to the ground. 
I know, it sounds pretty simple.  Until you factor in the axle.  Yes, an axle, in the center of the star.  With all the plates in place, the star is balanced.  Knock one plate off, the balance is gone, and the star spins, eventually swinging back and forth like a pendulum until all the plates are down.    
It’s typically shot with pistols or shotguns, the latter being a little easier on the nerves if you have the right shot pattern.  Although I have personally never seen it, I suppose you could use rifles on it, if the distance was far enough, and the steel was rated for rifle rounds, although the very thought of trying to clear this thing with a rifle, at distance, gives me nightmares.
There are some wicked variations of the star.  I’ve seen paper targets in place of the steel, with weights added to keep the star in constant motion.  Adding strategically-placed no-shoot targets (the ones you don’t want to put holes in), anywhere near the star tends to result in no-shoots with a lot of holes in them.  Even better: let’s put 2 stars together on the same axle.  We’ll put paper or steel targets on one star, and no-shoots on the other.  Then we’ll make them spin in opposite directions!
Good grief, who thinks of this stuff?
There are some “tricks” to clearing the star.  Start at the top, work your way down.  This keeps the center of gravity near the bottom, which limits the swinging.  It also helps to pick a spot and wait for the plate.  When it passes, hose it.  A good place to hold your sight is the point where the plates pause to change direction.  This works well, unless a devious match director has hidden that magical spot behind a steel wall, or a no-shoot.  Yes, it happens.
I don’t recommend chasing the moving plates with bullets.  That’s a surefire way to burn up rounds.  The crowd will get a good laugh, but in the end you may be left standing there with an empty gun, as those little plates mock you, merrily swinging along, untouched. 
“Ok, but bad guys don’t move like that.”  I’ve heard folks say that the star doesn’t represent any sort of “real world” target, whatever that is.  I view any challenge on the range as something that will make me a better shooter.  Hopefully none of us ever have to use our shooting skills off the range, but if we do, experience with targets like the star might just give us the edge we need to get home that day.
I really don’t know why it’s called a Texas Star.  It is a big star, after all, and Texas is big on stars.  Maybe its origins can be traced to the Lone Star State?  Sometimes I want to send it back to wherever it came from, but deep down I’m glad someone made this thing.  It’s made me a better shooter. 
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This post and its contents are the views and opinions of the author only, and do not necessarily represent those of Beretta.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The “Conversion” Experience: Freedom to Fire (Part 1)

By Austin Selph –Guest Contributor

(Part 1 of 4)
Unfortunately, not everyone grows up with guns. It’s a sad truth that I’ve found myself pondering over the past few days. The truth of the matter is that some people will go their whole lives without pulling a trigger. The way I see it, this is some serious stuff!

It’s sometimes hard for me to imagine my life before guns, but there was a time when my concept of a gun was nothing more than a toy or movie prop. My parents didn’t keep guns in the house when I was growing up. I managed to get a couple of rounds off with my friends or on special occasions with my grandparents, but nothing on a regular basis.

I remember the first shot I ever took: I was six years old, wide-eyed with adrenaline pumping through my veins. Nothing too fancy, just an old Red Ryder BB gun. I used my puny muscles to pump three or four times, raised the gun to my shoulder, and pulled the trigger. I nailed an empty Dr. Pepper can I had propped up on a five-gallon bucket. The ding of a BB passing through an aluminum can still brings a smile to my face even today. From that moment on, I was hooked.

A few years later I took yet another monumental step- I bought my first gun. My grandpa sold me an old shotgun he’d kept in his gun safe for years. It had every kind of nick and scratch imaginable from over a decade of consistent use. It needed some serious maintenance and I tended to it in the same way a mother would her sick child. Needless to say, it wasn’t in great condition, but it was mine.

Photo courtesy of
Like many Americans before me I had crossed in to the realm of gun ownership, a true convert of our second amendment right to bear arms. For many of us it’s a rite of passage, a freedom and right that we have the privilege to exercise in this great country.

While everyone’s story is different, we all have one thing in common: At some point we all took that first shot. My first experience with guns will always hold a special place in my heart. What’s your story?

This blog is the first of a four part series I’m calling “Freedom to Fire.” This series will take a look at the past, getting back to the basics of why we’re where we are today. Check back regularly for updates and new posts.   
Feel free to leave comments, questions, or suggestions! Let’s chat!

Austin Selph is a guest contributor for the Beretta Blog. He can be reached on Twitter or Facebook.

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This post and its contents are the views and opinions of the author only, and do not represent those of Beretta.

Monday, April 16, 2012

The Beginner’s Sporting Clays Guide: Training for A State Shoot

By Beretta Fleur - Guest Contributor

I’ve been shooting clays for 2 years, and have been an NSCA member for a little over a year. I’ve always shot tournaments, many of them recreational shoots lasting a couple of hours. If I’m tired after eight stations and my score is twenty points shy of a win, it’s nothing a beer and a burger won’t fix. But with spring comes the end of the hunting season and the beginning of state shoot season.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


by Carrie Lightfoot - Guest Contributor

You, my friend are an Ambassador. You may not realize it and you may not even wish to be, but you are. The dictionary lists the following definition of an ambassador:

“A person who acts as a representative or promoter of a specified activity.” 

You have joined a very distinguished group of individuals who influence our society and our world. So, now that you know who you are, how well are you doing at your job? 
People are watching you and people are listening to you. They are making decisions and forming opinions based on what you do and say. 

To add even more pressure, do you realize that how well you do your job as Ambassador directly effects millions of gun owners and their ability to protect themselves and enjoy their firearms? This is a lot of pressure, and all you wanted to do was defend yourself and/or enjoy shooting targets or hunt, right?
The day you purchased your first firearm you took on a great responsibility. You knew owning a firearm was a serious decision and that there are laws you must abide by, but did you realize that how you handle and use your firearm, how you speak of it, and your attitude about firearms puts you in such an important position?
Society, the government, your family and your neighbors, who perhaps are not experienced or knowledgeable in firearms, will form their opinions and make voting decisions also based on what they learn from you. Those who currently want to remove our right to own firearms are foaming at the mouth for anything and anyone that can be used to accomplish that goal. We see gun owners who act inappropriately, carelessly and even violently used in this way almost nightly on the news.

So, how are you doing? Are you safe? Do people see you shooting with eye and ear protection and following firearm safety rules? Do they ever see you pointing your gun at anything other than a safe target? Do you tell “off color” jokes or make less-than-tolerant comments involving your gun? Do you store your gun properly? Do you know the laws in your State and know where you cannot legally use your gun? Do you leave your favorite shooting area in the desert or woods clean? Do you realize that anytime we breach any of the above we could, in a moment, become a tool used to further efforts to place all of our rights in jeopardy. 

As I become entrenched in social media with The Well Armed Woman and monitor many, many pages, I regularly see and read such poor representations of what responsible gun ownership is really about. I wonder to myself: “If this is what those outside the gun culture see, it’s no wonder they fight so hard to take this right away. What a bunch of angry lunatics”. I see it at the range, sometimes, too. 

You know, I’m really not a fuddy duddy. I love shooting my guns and nothing means more to me than being able to defend myself, if necessary, and to help women do the same.  I love a cool photo or a funny pro-gun sign or saying,  but I also cherish my right to own and carry my firearm, and am frustrated by those that are reckless and careless and risk becoming ambassadors for those who desire to take my right away or to limit it.

Of course, there are many, many responsible owners and fine reflections of responsible gun ownership, and most of us are pretty good Ambassadors, doing our best to be good examples of safe, responsible gun ownership and handling. I think we can do better though. I know I can do a better job and take my “appointment” as Ambassador more seriously. I need to have the courage to remind my brothers and sisters in arms of their great responsibility and need to be good representatives as well. I need to be more careful and mindful when I don’t even think anyone is watching. 

Safe, respectful, responsible and a gun owner with integrity... That is the Ambassador I want to be.
“The true test of a man’s character is what he does when no one is watching.” 
― John Wooden

As the effort to limit our rights grows, our united work to represent our passion responsibly becomes that much more important.  What do you think we can do individually and collectively to be the best ambassadors possible?

Carrie Lightfoot is owner of The Well Armed Woman and quest contributor for the Beretta Blog. Join the dynamic group of women shooters on Facebook orTwitter and visit 

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This post and its contents are the views and opinions of the author only, and do not necessarily represent Beretta

Monday, April 9, 2012

Things I’ve learned at the range…

by Phil McNaughton- Guest Contributor

A few thoughts and theories from my time on the trigger, in no particular order...
I shoot faster when I slow down. 

Brussels sprouts make great targets.

Your worst day at the range is still better than your best day ....

Monday, April 2, 2012

Love is a many splendored thing...

by Carrie Lightfoot - Guest Contributor

Ahh, a new relationship. The excitement, the long talks, spending as much time together as you possibly can. These things are all part of any new significant relationship. You explore each other, learn everything you can about the other and eventually know everything there is to know.  People begin to say the two of you look alike, act alike, talk alike and, as years pass, even dress alike! I know you know what I am talking about: you have seen couples wearing basically the same outfits, most of them don’t even know they have done it. It just happens. They have grown so much together that they seem to meld into one. 
Yes.... I know I am writing a gun blog and am sure you are wondering “what does this have to do with guns”

Many women and perhaps men, purchase a firearm for self-protection. They want to feel safe and have the means to protect themselves and those they love. So they make the purchase, perhaps even glance through the owner's manual, load it with ammunition and put it in a safe place. Only to be left there, until the day they need it. The honeymoon is over, and so is the relationship.

What’s missing here? Yes: the romance. Every relationship needs attention and some quality time spent together. For a relationship to work, this is required on a regular basis. Otherwise, you will grow apart and become like strangers. 

(photo courtesy of
 Romance with my gun? you ask. Well, sort of.  

Spending some quality time with your firearm is one of the most important things you can do, not only when you first purchase your gun, but on an ongoing basis. This firearm is extremely important to you: this piece of metal (or plastic, in some cases) will become a part of your body. Heaven forbid the time comes when you must rely on it to save your life, you need to know it, really know it. You need to know how to get it to do what you need it to do, under incredible stress I might add. The level with which you and your firearm are “one” in a life threatening situation will seriously contribute to the outcome. 

Hold it, wear it and work it. (UNLOADED OF COURSE). Regular safe dry-fire practice is a great way to get acquainted and stay acquainted. Take your firearm on a date - go to the range and spend some quality time together. Owning a gun is a long term and committed relationship, one you must actively spend time on and invest yourself in. The rewards? A long, healthy happily-ever-after life together.
I expect you will have some interesting comments on this one! In the meantime, I will leave you with some famous love song lyrics. 

“And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.” - The Beatles, The End

“The greatest thing you'll ever learn, is to love and be loved in return.” - Nat King Cole, Nature Boy

Carrie Lightfoot is owner of The Well Armed Woman and guest contributor for the Beretta Blog. She can be reached on Facebook orTwitter    

Make sure you follow Beretta on Facebook, Twitter or YouTube

This post and its contents are the views and opinions of the author only, and do not necessarily represent those of Beretta.