While in Phoenix, during the late summer of 1971, while we were out of town, my trusty Winchester, Model 12, twelve gauge pump with a modified barrel, that I had shot for over twenty years, along with all of my other guns, a new Sony TV that I won in a sales manager’s contest and my brand new Buick Electra 225, were stolen. What really upset me was that the thieves took my Dad’s Fox, sixteen, gauge, side by side. Many times I have wished that I had that old one back!
The car was found undamaged the next week, but nothing else was ever recovered. The police told me that my guns went to Mexico and that someone in Arizona (probably) got a real good Sony TV!
My insurance settlement, received in early fall, was quite generous and I headed to Oshman’s in Scottsdale to restock my weapons. Having become interested in trap shooting, my first purchase was a Remington 870, twelve gauge, with a trap barrel and ventilated rib. This shotgun served me very well over the five years that I shot competitive trap and it was also a deadly weapon on ducks and geese! But, if I had been real smart I would have invested in a Perotzzi trap gun! Laughingly, I say that, but I was never a good shot with a trap gun. The stocks high comb, and me being blessed with a short neck and arms, precluded me from getting my head satisfactorily down on the stock. A simple lengthening of my 870’s stock was all it took to give me the correct sight picture for trap shooting.
As soon as we moved to Arizona, we started seeing Gambel quail and our roamings in the foothills and the deserts only showed us more of these remarkable, little runners. This led to my second purchase, a Remington 870, twenty gauge, pump with a ventilated rib and skeet barrel that I shot for over thirty-five years. However, not planning to shoot skeet, this shotgun, shooting “heavy” one ounce, reloads of seven and a halfs or eights, chalked up amazing numbers of quail and doves. One afternoon in Mexico, using the twenty, gauge, pump, I shot one hundred white wings with one hundred twenty-nine shells! On the skeet field it was equally impressive, helping me to shoot many twenty-fives European style. My Son, Randy, has this gun now.
I don’t think that I was a “natural” shooter although in the Army I shot Expert with the M-1 Garand and M-2 Carbine. Probably friendly pasters! But I did learn early on that if you’re going to be a good, competitive shooter, you had to practice regularly. This practice carries over into the field, helps in judging shot distances and reinforces the proper shooting techniques – see the proper sight picture whether you track, lead or swing on the target, keep your head down on the stock, keep swinging after you shoot and pretty soon the hits will really start to add up whether you’re shooting clay or real birds.
In 1975 returning to Arizona on a business trip, I found out what befell the thieves that broke into my house and stole my stuff and how they were finally apprehended. Their “business” was so good they had opened a used furniture store on Indian School Road in east Phoenix and of course much of the stock was stolen goods. They had just committed another home robbery taking a TV and some guns. Of all things, the latest victim showed up in their used furniture store looking for a TV to replace the one these guys had just stolen. Spotting one just like his, he looked a little closer and saw his Social Security number that he had engraved on the back. He left the store without a purchase, went to the police and thus ended the careers of a vicious gang of thieves.
Their store closed too, but I heard they had a get your stuff sale, not a going out of business sale!