Twelve of Ten

Bryce Angell – The outdoors has always been a large part of my life. My father was an outfitter and guide for 35 years and I was there to shoe and care for the horses and help him do the cooking. We took many great trips into the Yellowstone area. Even now that I’m older, we still ride into the Tetons, Yellowstone and surrounding areas. My poems are mostly of personal experience. I am now retired and enjoying life to the fullest. I plan to do more riding and writing.

My grandson squinted down the barrel, his right eye on the sight. I watched him squeeze the trigger, but he couldn’t get it right.

He’d missed the target by a mile. I’m sure I heard him curse. I said, “It’s time to take a break.” Things couldn’t get much worse.

I poured two mugs of Country Time. That sure brought on a smile. Then said, “I’ve got a story, if you’ll listen for a while.”

I told him back when I was young, I’d say ‘bout twelve or so, I couldn’t hit the target. Didn’t want a soul to know.

But my cousin Jerry knew that I was still a bit gun shy. He’d learned to shoot a rifle even with an injured eye.

A tight door spring had given way and stuck right in his eye. So he learned to shoot left-handed. He was one determined guy.

He told me, “You will learn to shoot but practice paves the way. And each time you hit the bull’s-eye, buy a Snickers bar that day.”

That summer we were camping at a local Scout event. The rifle range came open. Jerry dragged me from my tent.

The rifle range attendant said, “Each Scout will get ten shots.” I was looking for escape. I think I said, “I’ve got the trots.”

Jerry grinned, then gave a nod, I fired my first round. The attendant hollered, “Bull’s-eye!” I could’ve sworn I hit the ground.

And then the lone attendant barked, “Reload and fire at will!” I emptied out the chamber, never felt a bigger thrill!

The attendant raised my target. Hollered, “Bull’s-eye twelve of ten?” He looked a might confused while counting fingers once again.

‘Twas obvious the bull’s-eyes came from Jerry down the line. But twelve of ten could only mean that two of them were mine.

That day I soon discovered with some practice I could shoot. But gained the self-esteem from cousin Jerry, who gave a hoot.

Nearly sixty years have come and gone. I won’t forget that day. And how my cousin taught me in his Jerry Angell way.