Tag Archives: Ruger

A Religious Experience

Recently I was given the opportunity to go shooting with an author who’s work I’ve enjoyed much over the years. This was quite an experience for me. He and his wife took me into their home as I was traveling through the area and made me feel at home. Browsing through his collection of books, gun leather, mounted trophies and guns was very enjoyable, but when he took me out to his local shooting range the REAL fun began.

He took along a collection of Colt and Smith & Wesson revolvers in .45 Colt and .44 Special calibers. I had along my Ruger Vaquero in .45 Colt. We set up targets at the 25 yard line and the festivities commenced. After trying out my new Vaquero with “Cowboy” loads and some hot Buffalo Bore ammo, he asked if I’d like to try any of his collection. After reminding me to not try any of the Buffalo Bore ammo in his Colts I tried a couple of them out. Then he offered me what he called a “Religious Experience”, to shoot his pre-war “long action” .44 Spl. I took it and a fixed sighted model to the bench with some cast semi wadcutter loads, but somehow it wasn’t the same as he’d described it to me. For me, the real religious experience was in handling the Colt “sixguns” in that most famous caliber, .45 Colt. That’s when I felt how a perfectly tuned sixgun rolls gently in your hand as the hammer falls and got lost in the moment, forgetting to count the shots and seeing the hammer fall on an empty chamber with no perceivable flinch at all. The smell of fresh coffee blended with the odor of bacon frying and the remuda’s smell as the herd was brought up the trail. The fresh smell of sage after a rain blended with the acrid smell of blackpowder and I could hear the bawling of calves at roundup time… yes, I felt transported to another time and another place by simply holding and firing these wonderful pieces of history.

After we finished our shooting, had breakfast and said “Goodbye”, I drove off on my continuing journey. As I drove down the highway, surrounded with fond memories of an enjoyable time, I reflected on the difference between his “religious experience” and mine. As I thought about it, I was reminded of the passage in Hebrews 5 that says:


For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.
Hebrews 5: 12-14


You see, my author friend has been shooting since I was “but a sparkle in my daddy’s eye”, and although the shooting sports are high on my “favorite things to do” list, the truth of the matter is that only rarely am I able to indulge my passion for “things that go ‘bang'”. So the analogy carries over. At my age many men have had the chance to learn to shoot and have indulged themselves in the sport, developing a feeling for “the deeper issues”. But through my inexperience and lack of practice in the matter I have yet much to learn. Elmer Keith began his carreer with black powder and later with the .45 Colt. As he learned he progressed to the .44 special and later to the .44 Magnum, only rarely returning to the “first principles” of the sport.

So, what does this have to do with us as christians? Many are to christianity like I am to the shooting sports. Wildly enthusiastic, but with little real experience. Endlessly curious, but with a small store of personally acquired knowledge. Yes, for me to handle a genuine Colt revolver in .45 Colt caliber was a real thrill. But the joys of the .44 special are still under appreciated by me. As the years pass and my experience in the shooting sports grows, perhaps my appreciation for the .44 will grow too. Yet my true desire is to see christians learn to discern the differance between good and evil as they exercise their faith.

Yes, shooting the old guns was akin to a “religious experience”, but more important yet is seeing my brothers and sisters grow in their faith towards God and in their understanding of His will. If you too wish to grow in Him, you won’t ever be able to do so by sitting there with your Bible closed. Get into His word and learn to know what His will is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

It’s The Heart That Counts

It was a pleasant September day, the kind of day meant to be spent in the company of friends. Several of us had been invited to spend the day at Rob Applegate’s place. Rob and Marilyn opened their home to us and we spent an enjoyable time looking over Rob’s collection of guns and his shop until the ladies called us in for a snack. After having eaten into Rob’s private store of Colby cheese and washing it down with cold beverages the men took off to Rob’s private shooting spot while the ladies went in search of antiques. It promised to be an enjoyable afternoon.

Everyone brought a reasonable collection of guns and copious amounts of ammunition. It was a real pleasure to share this time with fellow shooters. Everyone made me feel welcome and let me try their various pet guns. There were Linebaugh built Rugers, Gary Reeder built Rugers, Smith and Wesson’s and assorted long arms. Rob had a gong set up around 200 yards and one set up at around 25 or 30 yards (if memory serves me) The farther gong soon became the target of choice as we took turns terrorizing it with all manner of calibers and weapons.

In the middle of all the fun and camaraderie I kept ribbing Gary about his “tupperware” gun that he was packing on his hip. Amongst all the custom revolvers, old Smiths, old Rurgers and such, his G-g-g (I can’t even get myself to type the name!) plastic gun seemed out of place. Being a fine Christian gentleman he took the kidding as long as he could, then he did the unthinkable, he made me shoot it! He handed me the pistol with a clip full of nondescript hardball ammo and told me to give it a try. I aimed at the 200 yard gong, squeezed the horrid trigger…..and rang the gong! That didn’t seem right. The horrible trigger, the ugly gun, the cheap ammo, and yet I hit the gong! In fact, as I worked my way through the clip full, I hit the gong more often than I did with any other gun! Life’s not fair!

Later, as I reflected on the experience, I got to thinking about how that g-g-g-gl-glock was a lot like some people. It had nothing attractive at all about it. It was soul less plastic poured into an ugly square mold, and yet it did a fine job of what it was to do. If given the pick of the tailgate of all the guns brought to that shoot, I’d probably never have picked out the g-g-g-gl-glock. In stead my eye would have been attracted to any one of the various “sexy” guns that had been brought along. The Smith 29 with the 10+ inch barrel, the Gary Reeder .475, the Linebaugh .45, the Old Model .357 Ruger – they each had some aesthetic appeal that would have taken my fancy. But the fact remains, the g-g-g-gl-glock shot better for me at that distance than any of the rest.

You see, we as humans, tend to judge things by their outward appearance. Our eyes often deceive us, because we believe that whatever pleases the eye must be good. But God looks upon us differently. When the profet Samuel was searching for a man to replace Saul on the throne of Israel, he went to the house of Jesse like the Lord had told him to. Jesse called his sons before Samuel and Samuel looked on them with human eyes. Here’s what the Bible tells us about what happened that day.

And it came to pass, when they were come, that he looked on Eliab, and said, Surely the LORD’S anointed is before him. But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart. I Samuel 16:6-7
The King James Version

We, too, must learn to discern and to seek the heart, not the appearance. Although I hate to admit it, that Glock of Gary’s is a fine shooting gun. It has a lousy trigger, but despite that, it gets the job done and that’s what counts. May I do the same for my Lord.