Why We Love our Firearms

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While hanging around the clubhouse with four or five club members as a guest at a Grasslands duck club last season, firearms seemed to be the lowest common denominator of our discussion.

Thinking about my firearms in the general sense led me to introspectively consider which firearms were my favorite and then I began to wonder why I have such affection for my shotguns and rifles – nearly all firearms with which I hunt.

I decided to propose a question to the group. The question was this: “Why do we have strong emotions about our firearms? Is it that they are beautiful? Or precise? Or is it something else, less obvious?”

Having sipped down several glasses of red wine each, the discussion was earnest and thoughtful, but not fulfilling and by the time we moved on, nobody had come up with the  answer.

For a day or two, I continued to think about my favorite firearms. My emotions about them were very positive, but they are inanimate objects, unlike most of the things we love. But I had to admit, love was not too strong of a description for the emotion I have for my favorite rifles and shotguns.

I wondered about my best archery equipment and my favorite fly rods. I appreciate their value and practice with them to improve my hunting or fishing effectiveness. For many years I only hunted with bow and arrow. I have spent at least as much time in the woods with my archery equipment as with my rifle. Yet, I do not have the same kind of emotion for the former.

This comparison helped me understand that my love for the firearms I own has nothing to do with their physical makeup, their beauty or their performance. Finally I had discovered where I was going wrong.

The reason I love my firearms has everything to do with self-pride. I am proud that I am permitted to own such a powerful tool. I am humbled by the fact that I am trusted to be the custodian of something that has the ability to do tremendous damage if mishandled.

I use the utmost caution when handling my firearms and I do my best to set a standard for safety that others can follow. I never take safety for granted and I recognize the responsibility and power granted to me, an individual, by our constitution.

My firearms are a symbol of what is great about being an American.

The William Cashmore Double

It was December 1972 and the day of my departure from Idaho Falls en route home in California. After a year of navy nuclear power school, I was done with my education. The temperature at dawn was (something like) 26 below zero. My car was frozen and had to be towed to a local station where they heated it up  (I watched as the mechanic built a little fire under the oil pan) until it could be started.

On the road at about midday, I became terrified at the start of the journey. Eighteen wheelers traveling at 60 MPH on the iced over highway to Pocatello were life threatening. Gradually building up courage, I increased speed until I could keep up with them. Then came the big mistake, I hit the brakes and traveled sideways off the road and skidded to a stop in sagebrush. A friendly guy about my age (at the time) showed mercy and towed me out of the snow and back onto the highway.

The first night of the trip was spent in Jackpot as the highway south was closed just south of the Idaho border. The roads opened about 9 AM the next day and I continued on. After several hours I reached Winnemucca and stopped as I 80 was again closed due to the weather. Undaunted, I found a room and later sat down to play some blackjack. I won a few hands and the next thing I knew, a young lady was cheering me on. I definitely didn’t mind.

We became a gambling team and moved on to a roulette wheel where I continued my winning streak. When it appeared that I should quit while I was ahead, I invited the young lady to dinner. We had a good time.

In the morning, I invited her to breakfast and we discussed how I should spend my winnings. I suggested a dress for her and she accepted. Then we went to a local pawn shop to see what I could purchase for myself. I stopped at the door and immediately spotted a double-barrel shotgun sitting on a ledge just above eye level. For $100, it was mine.

With my winnings spent and time a wasting, I bid farewell to the young lady, sent her on her way home to South Dakota and hit the road again.

After a night of snowstorms and whiteouts (twice running off the road and bypassing a closed I80 at Donner Pass by taking the Tahoe route) I made it to my parent’s house about 1:00 AM in the morning.

The shotgun became an afterthought. Although I made an uninspired investigation, I never figured much out about its history and it has languished in my closet, gun case or gun safe ever since. I fired it with black- powder shells at least once. Because it has Damascus barrels, I’ve been afraid it might blow up.

While flipping TV channels last night, I found Larry Potterfield working on a double barrel shotgun recoil pad. He said something about a “fine William Cashmore,” and it caught my ear. Reminded that the old double was somewhere in my garage, I dug it up and began an internet search for “William Cashmore double barrel shotguns.”

I was pleasantly surprised when I found some info, so rather than belabor that effort, I turned the issue over to my cousin who is currently doing some research, but if you’re interested in old shotguns, you may enjoy viewing the old gun, which has seen better days and was apparently fired many times before landing in the Winnemucca pawn shop.

The gun is quite warn, but has lots of intricate engraving.

Here’s a right side view, very similar to the left side if not identical.

Here’s a top view. Everything works, but it needs an overhaul.

I’m interested in learning more about these barrel markings.

The serial number, 9267, is quite clear.

The fore stock has nice checking and engraving, but once again, overall the gun has deteriorated.

The stock checkering is intricate.

I found the trade mark under the fore stock.

I’ve always wanted to learn more about the old double, so if anybody has info, feel free to pass it on. I’ve had it for forty years now, so it’s about time to figure it out.