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 Zazzle.com
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.


  1. I'll always remember my first time. It was a sub-freezing December morning out on the Red River, just me and my dad. I'll never forget him asking me if I wanted to shoot his old 12 gauge Remington for the first time. The thing nearly took my shoulder off but I was hooked. It wasn't even about the gun, the ammo, or even the ducks though. I was hooked to the quality time I got to spend with my pops. Guns and our love of hunting bring us together on cold winter mornings every year, and even if we don't see ducks, we still have that time together. Nothing beats the chatter in the blind as ducks circle above and hail calls reign thunder over the lake in front. Those talks over a warm, small town breakfast feast after a chilly morning's hunt can never be forgotten. Every time I am blessed to go on a hunt, I think back to that first time and all the moments my dad and I have shared together. Thanks for the article man. Hit a soft spot for me, can't wait for future posts.

    1. Glad you enjoyed it and thanks for the input Garrett! Glad I could pull on a few of your heart strings.

  2. Good story Austin. Thanks for sharing.

    Mine is a little different. I was raised around guns, although I think I was oblivious to that fact until I was about 6 years old. I don't have a clear memory of the first time I shot a gun, but I'm sure mine was also with a Red Ryder. Ever since, I have also been hooked. I have upgraded my arsenal a bit since those days, but even then, and still today, it is a rush that is irreplaceable when I get the opportunity to shoot.

    I liked your comment that said:
    "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."

    I can relate to that feeling you are speaking of. As soon as I turned 18 (and saved enough the money) I purchaced my first shotgun, and it felt good to finally have one that I could call my own.

    Now that I will be turning 21 in a few days, I am hoping to soon purchase my first handgun and obtain my CHL. I am not paranoid to the point where I feel like I need a gun on me at all times, but for me it is more about doing it just because I have the freedom to do so. Like you said, it feels like a rite of passage; something to be proud of; that I now have the right to purchase a handgun to defend myself from those that wish to harm me.

    Guns in the wrong hands can be harmful, but no amount of gun laws or regulations will ever prevent wrongdoers from obtaining and using them to harm others. That is why I feel it is our right and responsibility to educate ourselves and others about gun use and safety so that we may defend ourselves when we are in danger, and so that others might also get to experience some of the exciting and meaningful hunting and shooting memories that some of us hold so dear.

    Thanks again for sharing your story.



    P.S. Thin'k gon' rain?

    1. Thanks for telling a little of your story! Hope the big 2-1 goes well and the handgun/CHL combo works out!

  3. Replies
    1. What a supportive father... Thanks Pops!

  4. This brings back some good memories to alot of people I can imagine, their first time to shoot, first time to purchase a gun with their own money, and the best part is that we live in a country where we are able to do all these things.Very well written article Austin and look forward to reading the next few parts!

    Dylan Choate

    1. Thanks Dylan! Those are memories that last a lifetime. I know I wouldn't trade mine for the world.

  5. Great article! I personally am terrified of guns. A large black man used to beat me with a shotgun on the way home from the bus stop when I was a kid. I have actually peed my pants just by seeing a gun. Your story has helped me conquer my fear.

    Thank you,

    Cameron Wilson

  6. Growing up with Guns is really a privilege. I've been around them my entire life. They have always been in my house and when I own my own house their will always be a gun. I can't remember the first time I pulled the trigger but I do remember the first deer I killed with it and the feeling of adrenaline that came along during it.

    1. That's a whole different story. As a deer hunter myself I can level with you 100%. Thanks for the input Molly!