Friday, June 21, 2013

Losing a Shooting Friend

I recently lost a shooting friend. He's still alive and he's still a good friend, but he had to surrender his Firearm Owners Identification Card (FOID) card, because, technically he's a felon. Caught up in the 2008 financial implosion with a family to care for, he backed the wrong horse and by the time he discovered the rotten core of the company that he had been fronting, it was too late. Now, he has to spend some time with a couple of governors of Illinois and other bag holders to pay for his sins of a lapse of judgment and a bout of denial.

One of the penalties he must endure is the loss of his FOID card and never being able to shoot in Illinois again. That's where my problem begins. Any shooter knows its hard to find other shooters to spend time with at a range, or walking a hedgerow at a farm, or busting clays to keep your eye sharp. This friend was always up for a trip to Kankakee where I dragged my rifles, pistols and shotguns out of their cement and steel alarm-fitted vault into the light of day for the long drive to the Illinois Rifle Association range.

My friend couldn't have a gun around the house because of his young children, but he loved to shoot. He was a good student and learned fast, tightening his groups and raising his score of busted clays. After a half day of blazing through boxes of bullets and shot shells, we'd head into town for a milkshake and a couple of Steakburgers. It was a long, fun day.

We still go out for cigars and a couple of beers, and can go fishing for bass at a nearby lake, at least until he has to report to his gray-bar vacation retreat, but we will miss the noise, smoke and pleasure of hammering away at the range. Like any solo sport: golf, tennis, car racing, or fishing, you can work at your skills by yourself, but having some whose company you enjoy to share the experience adds some spice to the dish.

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