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It's Memorial Day, that long almost-summer weekend where we remember and honor veterans lost, and those family we too have lost. Some of you may know I lost my father this year...I wrote the following about a year or so before he died. My goal today when we went to the range to shoot, was to be sure to take the Enfield. My dad, I miss him.


The Enfield.

I read somewhere that it was a ‘sultry Saturday’ yesterday, and they were right. It was warm in the low 90’s, overcast, and humid enough to cut with a knife--to say nothing of the chance of pop-up thunderstorms…



Not exactly the finest of weather to head out to do something I have wanted/dreamed/longed to do for nigh on 40 years. But it was what was available. We loaded up the kids and our friend SS into the vehicles and took off north. We were bound for Ralph’s place, about an hour NE of home, with plans for lunch afterward, or maybe it was an early dinner?



We got there and got set up. First off, the kids earned some cold hard cash by helping police up the scrap metal and burn off some energy just being kids. I set out a tarp to reduce the chance of fire ants, and the kids were bundled off to safety behind the firing line. See, Ralph has a range, a shooting range, a shooting range open to the public in his back yard! God, I love Texas!



I’d been wanting to shoot lately, and long guns at that…but there was something special going on besides just a trip to the range. Last year my dear aged father, at last gifted me with his old ‘wallhangers’. Both of which, I have loved since I can remember. I have always thought of them as ‘mine’, something my good sister has never desired to contest. They mean nothing to her, and so much to me.



Dad was born English. Dad served in WWII in the Royal Merchant Navy. After the war, Dad became an American. Dad used to tell me of shooting at box kites flying off the stern of the ships with an Enfield rifle. I used to think that would be easy to hit…until I grew up and learned that shooting moving objects was a lot harder than you saw on TV.



I have it now—that wallhanger Enfield. No, it’s not his old service rifle—but it is an Enfield, it is correct for the war and oh my, time has not been cruel to it. I have longed to take it out and shoot it, for as long as I can remember. Dad remembers things too, sometimes. Snippets, a bit of song, or images from a trip across the Pond from before I was even born…but simple things—the crossword puzzle, clothing, a clock, the TV remote, and sometimes people, fail to register true to him now. It tears my heart out.



That old rifle is cared for now, loved in its own way, for what it means to me. I couldn’t wait to shoot it yesterday. It was the first one out. You know, it shot pretty good for an old SMLE! The range is too short to wring out the flip up rear sight, so I made do with the large rear peep sight instead. It was better than minute-of-torso accurate with some factory ammo, and if I had been shooting better, the groups would’ve been tighter. The brass came out in perfect condition too, so there are no chamber or headspace problems. Not that I expected any really, since I doubt it’s been fired since it was FTR in ’49. Not too shabby for a 65 year old battle rifle!



The rest of the day didn’t matter…despite my good scoped rifle being way off target, despite having fits with another rifle, and the downpour that started before we were done for the day... for I had fulfilled a near lifelong dream. I had finally taken Dad’s old wallhanger out shooting. It is a wallhanger no more!




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