It wasn't the first trip for Griffin, but he was still excited to go to the Alabama Gun Collectors Show Saturday at the Birmingham Civic Center along with his Carlie and daddy. The fact that we came away with his first real gun will no doubt make it all the more memorable.
Regardless of one's personal beliefs about firearms, there really is nothing like a gun show, and in its own way, represents one of those only-in-America type settings. I have been going since I was 13 or 14, and other than new products and passage of old timers I have seen and met there, this gun show has changed little.
Even for people like me who call themselves being in the know about guns, there is always a dizzying variety of things that go bang that I have not seen before or since. Whether it's historic military weapons that cost as much as a good used car, an antique to show off or invest, a hunting gun to bring home game, a pistol for self-defense or pretending to be an Old West cowboy, or a "featherweight" revolver made for a woman's purse, there really is something for everybody.
But we were there to see about a first real gun for Griffin, a new holster for me and to get my knife sharpened. We made it all of about 100 feet from the door and right there it was: the Chipmunk .22 single shot rifle. Everything in size and weight is diminutive (just like its rodent namesake) and specially made for the beginning shooter. The dinky little rifles have been around for about 30 years, and I think are still being manufactured by a little company in Oregon. The example we found Saturday was in very good condition and was originally bought for the seller's grandson, who has since outgrown it. (so the story went) The price was right, and with some bargaining, got better and included the rifle's original soft case.
After the deal was done the kids surprised me when their attention spans lasted long enough--about an hour--to walk around all the hundreds of tables and get a quick look at what was being shown and sold. Once back in Pell City, we went out to our shooting spot and I began the most manly process of teaching Griffin to shoot a real gun safely. He caught on quick, and even though it will be years before he's allowed to shoot or even handle the rifle alone, I was glad to see that gleam in his eye when he hit our orange painted target spot and popping a glass bottle with the mighty Chipmunk.
It's only a matter of time before he'll make the connection between Chipmunk .22 and rodent chipmunks, or maybe Alvin and the Chipmunks! But that's another talk for another time. First learn to shoot, then learn to hunt, if he is so inclined.