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Outdoors

Rondinelli: New column targets gun enthusiasts

| Saturday, Jan. 16, 2016, 6:09 p.m.

You can call me Charles (not Chuck). Gun enthusiast. Life long.

When I was in my early teens, I was allowed to purchase my first gun, a Winchester .22 bolt action. Five bucks a month for six months with paper route money. It was a beauty, and that started my long admiration of the precision instruments that propel accurate globs of metal with gunpowder. Though the rifle was extremely accurate, I had to sell it the next year.

Couldn't help it. I fell for a Mossberg Model 151K, another .22. It wasn't that it was semi-automatic. I could see the beautiful lines of that rifle with a Monte Carlo stock and check piece just as I assume a car collector sees the lines of a four-wheel road vehicle. Besides, it loaded 15 bullets from the stock, not from a tube under the barrel.

With a paper route, you couldn't afford two. So the Winchester went, and I have regretted that since. But I still have the Mossberg.

In those days, guns were not political, not criticized as some devilish instrument. It seems that almost everyone had at least one. Advertisement pictures showed BB guns, shotguns, hunting rifles held by sons with fathers, smiling while teaching the safety process, the responsibility. Hunters in high school brought guns to show their teachers.

Since that time, I have added a shotgun or two and another rifle and a pistol. When I left my hometown of Bluefield, W.Va., I was out of the mountains for decades. I shot some here and there and hunted in several states with buddies. But I never could become a collector, and I never shot or hunted as much as I wanted. Most of my time was taken by the job and family.

Ten years ago I landed in Pittsburgh. It was wonderful and more natural than I thought. Back in the mountains. Magnificent mountains. And added benefits: Hunters walk the land, and gun clubs are sprinkled everywhere. You can shoot at something somewhere on any day.

I'm told the clubs are not anywhere near the glory of yesteryear in the number of people or competitive events, but they are still here, hanging on. And people come and go and shoot.

Perhaps some of you in past years have seen my name in the masthead of the Trib's editorial page. With that night-shift effort of nine-plus years over, I have the time and opportunity to write some about guns and what activities people do with them.

I hope to guide you on stories about people and events, about mostly anything to do with gunpowder and gun metal, perhaps even profile a few old-timers and their stories of how they used to enjoy the shooting sports.

Although I have never written this much about myself, I don't want you to get the idea that I'm going to try to be an expert on anything. I'm not. There are far too many things to know, to learn, to experience for me to imagine that I know more than someone else.

But I have experienced a fair amount of shooting in recent years and expect that to increase. I intend to pass along the flavor of Western Pennsylvania shooters. Some information will be national, some statewide, some just informative. Some may involve reloading, new equipment, manufacturing developments.

I can tell you this young year will have interesting developments. Perhaps some will counter the burdens of political activists. We'll see.

I hope you will come along for the ride.

Charles Rondinelli is a freelance writer. Reach him at straightshooter@tribweb.com.

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