When I was four years old, my parents packed me off to the military boarding school which my two older brothers (8 and 10 at the time) already attended. There were reasons for this, some good, others perhaps less so, but that’s not the point.
This was the real deal. By the time I went home for Thanksgiving vacation, I could make a bed with hospital corners and a blanket so taut a quarter would bounce from it, shine shoes, and do close order drill, including most of the manual of arms — port arms, shoulder arms, etc. (we used Daisly BB rifles for arms). I was probably the only four year old in the country who could tie a Windsor knot.
When I was about six, I was allowed to join the “big boys” and go to the rifle range, where we were instructed on the safety, range procedure and firing of live ammunition from a 22 rifle.
That’s right. I’m not talking about a backwoods Kentucky kid learning how to shoot squirrels; I’m talking about an expensive private school sixty miles from LA where kids were taught to shoot 22s as a matter of course. To be fair, kids my age were few — I think there were only about ten of us — but there we were.
As a result — whatever other effects this experience may have had — I learned at an early age how to do something that today would be considered barbaric by most “right-thinking” (okay, left-thinking) folks. I also learned to respect guns and how to handle them, and how to behave in places where guns were present.
I can’t think that this was a bad thing, but imagine if I offered such a program — teaching young kids gun safety and instruction in shooting them — to parents here on West End Avenue in Manhattan.
Come to think of it, I might be swamped with applications. But do you think the city would let me do it?