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Parting shot.

"I've got something to show you," exclaimed Benny as he approached me on the street the other day. Knowing he is a lover of firearms, I had a fair idea of what was coming. So, we were off to his house, then upstairs to his den.

Sure enough, he brought out a rectangular box which at a glance spelled handgun. He unlatched and swung out the big cylinder and handed me the impressive 4-inch barreled Smith & Wesson .44 Magnum, with the comment, "Isn't that beautiful!"

being a lover of firearms, in my mind it was indeed beautiful. The beauty came from the quality of the workmanship but more importantly from its bigness, the cannon size hole in the barrel and the potential blast of power when such a piece is fired.

Objectively, I can see that there are people who would not find the big magnum a thing of beauty. Yet, the same person might, being a plumber, say of a new Stillson wrench, "Ain't that a thing of beauty?"

I wonder, could a painter think of his paint brush as beautiful? I can say without reservation that I don't like to paint. To me the mere sight of a paint brush brings thoughts of the sticky liquid running down my arm, spots of paint on the good rug and messy brushes to clean--and they resist cleaning. To me, a paint brush makes me want to retch, thus further substantiating my allegation that I'm allergic to paint.

"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder," how else would a fellow sit in a blind, cold, miserable and shivering and then look into the teeth of an approaching snow squall and say, "What a beautiful day!" No doubt the fowl weather finds its beauty as a prelude to an oncoming flight of geese honking and hollering while fighting a wind and looking for a quiet place to set down.

The style and elegance of the well groomed show dog is, to say the least, beautiful. But take the same English setter after a couple of weeks in the field and his coat starts to look grungy. Yet, put him on point with a 'wild bird under his nose and backed by a brace of honoring friends, there is beauty even more than when posed and well dressed.

And of canine, consider, if you will, the homely bulldog. That with the pushed-in face is said to have gotten that way by chasing parked cars. To some the only response is, "That is an ugly looking beast." There are bulldog fanciers and to them the more wrinkled and pushed in the face, the more the beauty.

Of all God's creatures, the warthog is unquestionably the homely one. With bumps, protrusions, and distended teeth he looks as if his face was run over by a truck sporting snow tires. What little hair there is seems attacked by mange. Yet, I have a fondness for the warthog. His extreme individuality lends him a different beauty.

No question the warthog is of different beauty from the majesty of the greater kudu or the sable antelope. Theirs is a different kind of beauty, perhaps the beauty of perfection as compared to the beauty of the gross.

I have a special fondness for books, and my library includes books about guns, hunters and hunting adventures. To me there is bountiful beauty in a well written phrase. An inconspicuous drab cover might bind magnificent word pictures. And some books are as beautiful word pictures. And some books are as beautiful outside as in.

Take for instance, one of my favorites called, "The Golden Crescent." It is a collection of stories written by Bob Brister featuring illustrations by Jack Cowan. The fact that the book was presented to me on the occasion of a successful bird hunt in Mexico, by Bob Brister himself, makes it even more important to me.

The Beauty starts with the outside box all shiny golden. Inside the box, covered with textured tissue paper is the leather bound tome. Yet, this package only wraps the equally beautiful adventures of fish, game and people.

I think firearms are beautiful. I have to admit I have no interest in the modern military type multi-shooting instruments. The metal and plastic construction, the high sights--one of which is a handle--and their complete lack of grace and form give them the beauty of an automobile bumper jack.

I carry the quest for beauty to the extreme when I say a 12 gauge double barrel shotgun must have 30-inch barrels in order to preserve the relationship between length to bulk. The 20 gauge with 28-inch tubes looks best. The 28 should have barrels of 26 inches to bring grace to this little gun.

I do find a kind of beauty in the over & under as well as the pump and automatic. But for the epitome of grace and flowing lines, it must be a side-by-side with a splinter forearm. And of course a straight grip. Engraved sidelocks, regardless of their mechanical advantage, tend to slender out the inherent boxy shape of the receiver.

I think, if one looks, one can find beauty everywhere. The blueness of the Heavens on a rain-washed morning, or the jumble of clouds of a summer storm, the fireworks of thunder and lightning, the freshness of a cooling evening breeze while the crickets tell it will be another scorcher tomorrow, the new buds after a hard winter, the first snow of the year; these things are infinitely beautiful.

A moss covered rock, garlanded with tiny orange blossoms, a pure white mushroom in a alpine field of emerald green, or the single flower growing in the efluence of life where no such flower should grow, all portray the splendor of nature.

And who is to set the standard for beauty in people? There is beauty in the devotion of one spouse to the other, grey hair, wrinkles, and eyes sparkling with wisdom; a hunting buddy, now returned after a time away; or the lone mountain man living in concert with nature; these things make people beautiful. Perhaps it is not the beauty of perfection, but it is far more real and lasting.

The beggar might marvel at a fallen leaf, appreciate the buttercup and the wild violet, and these things give him a wealth of pleasure and beauty and he is richer for them.

Pause my friend, and look for beauty and you will find it in all things natural. You will thrill to the lines of the perfect shot-gun and, as thousands do, you will look to the magnum and agree it is a thing of beauty.
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Copyright 1984 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:reflections of a gun lover
Author:Wolff, Dick
Publication:Guns & Ammo
Date:Sep 1, 1984
Words:1109
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