It is kind of fitting, I suppose, that our Western America Adventure Tour was “bookended” by a bit of range time at the West End Gun Club.
When our good buddies from China and Colombia arrived in the USA, one of their first requests was for an In-N-Out Burger. We did that the very first night on the way home from LAX. Then it was on to the hotel and a good night’s sleep after a long journey.
We had a spare day before the ride and the next morning I asked our guests what they would like to do.
Their answer was direct: We want to shoot a gun.
I was happy to oblige. I put my Ruger Mini-14 in the van and we were off to the West End Gun Club.
Our guests were fascinated with everything America has to offer, and the freedom guaranteed by our 2nd Amendment was obviously high on that list. After a brief lesson on the rifle, the cartridge, and firearms safety, we set up a target and our guests took turns putting the Ruger through its paces. The smiles were real, and I had brought along plenty of ammo. The guys did well, too. Literally every shot was on target. They told me I was a good teacher. I think they are just good shots.
Now before any of you get your shorts in a knot about guns and shooting, let me tell you that even though I am a strong 2nd Amendment supporter, I can understand why some of you might be opposed the freedoms guaranteed by the US Constitution. When I go to a public range I sometimes see people who I wouldn’t allow to have oxygen (let alone firearms). The problem, as I see it, is that if you restrict our rights in this area, it would be a government pinhead making the call on who gets to have guns and who doesn’t (and that scares me even more than some of the yahoos I see with guns). It’s a tough call, but I’ll come down on the side of the 2nd Amendment every time. The founding fathers knew what they were doing, and they did it before pinheads permeated the government.
Ah, but I digress. Back to the main attraction…my day at the range with our guests.
I didn’t get photos of that event. I was busy teaching, watching, and explaining, and I just didn’t have an opportunity. The Chinese and the Colombians did. They were having a blast (literally and figuratively), and they captured hundreds of photos. When we finished, they all collected their targets. Their next request: Can we go to a gun store?
We have a Bass Pro near where we live, and it’s awesome. Okay, then. Next stop: Bass Pro.
I was already getting a sense of how much our guests liked taking pictures, so I told them when we got to the gun department at Bass Pro we shouldn’t take pictures. Usually there are signs prohibiting photography in these kinds of places. We gun enthusiasts don’t like being photographed by people we don’t know when we are handling firearms (big brother, black helicopters, and all the rest that comes with a healthy case of paranoia and a deep distrust of the government). I told our guests I would ask if we could take photos, but until then, keep the cameras at bay.
The guys were in awe when we reached the gun display area. Speechless, at first. Open mouths. Wide eyes. There isn’t anything like Bass Pro in China or Colombia.
Now, you have to picture this. The Bass Pro gun department. A bunch of guys from China talking excitedly a hundred miles an hour in Chinese. The rest of the customers watching, literally, with dropped jaws, wondering what was going on. We were a sight.
I explained to the gun department manager who we were and why these guys were so excited (thrilled, actually). He smiled. “Would they like to take pictures?” he asked. Hoo boy!
The guys loved it. So did the Bass Pro staff. They were handing the Chinese these monster Smith and Wesson .500 Magnums so they could pose for photos, ala Dirty Harry. It was quite a moment and it made quite an impression. The Chinese were fascinated with the whole concept and what it is like to live in America, and the Bass Pro staff were quite taken with the Chinese. I was pleased. Our guests were getting a first-hand look at American freedoms and American hospitality. It was a theme that would be repeated throughout their entire visit, wherever we went.
For me, a crowning moment was when one of the Chinese told me that while he was growing up, he had been told that Americans were evil and we were their enemy. “That’s just not true,” he said. Mission accomplished, I thought.
You know all about the motorcycle tour that followed. But it all started with that day at the range and a visit to Bass Pro. Freedom, American style.
So, the Chinese are either home now or still in the air as I write this. Our epic ride is over. It was a hell of a thing. Oh, we still get the Internet zanies criticizing us for this or for that. We actually had one dude go off on us for the route we chose. If they only knew…
Baja John is staying at my place for a couple of days before pointing his Jeep east for his ride home, and yesterday, he and I went to the WEGC range again. John has a beautiful new .25-06 Browning A-Bolt rifle with a fiddleback maple stock that he had not fired yet. We aimed to correct that shortfall, and yesterday, we did…
The rifle, like all Brownings, is a tack driver (it is extremely accurate). Browning takes a few extra steps to increase accuracy in their rifles (glass bedding the action and free-floating the barrel, for example). It works. John’s rifle shot beautifully.
I have a Browning in .308 with a walnut stock and I haven’t fired mine yet, either, but I intend to in the near future…
One more thing to add before I saddle up and head to the CSC plant this morning. You may remember the story I told you about San Marino Bill’s grandson seeing us on the freeway near San Luis Obispo and holding up a sign that said “Hi, Joe.” Well, here’s a nice note from Bill and a picture of that very sign!
My grandson gave me the sign he made on a Big Mac bag. He said you had a smile from ear to ear when you saw your name.
I sure did, Bill! Thanks again!