“The beginning is the most important part of the work” Plato
Slowly, one quiet step at a time I stalked my quarry. It was July and it was hot and muggy, common conditions for a muddy riverbank in southern West Virginia. The air was heavy with humidity and riverbank smells. While cicadas and other insects droned in the trees, a trickle of sweat rolled down by back, but I didn’t notice any of it. I was on the hunt and in the zone.
Two more steps in the river sand and I was in range. Easing up the rifle with the front sight on the unsuspecting prey, the shot sequence was as ingrained in me as breathing air. Front sight focus, take a breath and hold it, squeeze the trigger. A muffled report of the rifle and a gentle push of recoil saw the target, a big yellow hornet, go down for the count. I continued to push through the green jungle of the riverbank. I was 10 years old and carrying a Daisy BB gun.
Almost anyone who hunts or does some form of shooting and is in my age group of baby boomers started out on a Daisy BB gun. I suspect many more that came along after this age group also started on one of Daisy’s air guns. Back in the day most parents were OK with letting little Johnny run loose in the woods or on the riverbank with a fully loaded BB gun. For myself, I probably shot thousands of BBs at leaves floating on the Coal River, sycamore seed pods high in the trees, or any one of dozens of other targets I might find. It was all done away from any houses or other buildings, and I cannot remember one incident where anyone or any property was injured.
Adult supervision and careful training in BB gun safety is important so the young shooter may have a safe experience with the air gun. If you ask a shooter or hunter today how they learned to shoot, you’ll discover that most of them took their first shot with a Daisy BB gun. Because air guns have form and function like many firearms, it’s not uncommon to use a BB gun as a training gun. Because Daisy is the leading manufacturer of air guns, the company takes seriously its obligation to emphasize shooting safety.
Daisy began creating educational partnerships with local schools and other organizations as early as 1948. In 1956, established a Training Services Department, working with the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education and Recreation to make target shooting with BB guns a part of schools’ physical education curriculum. In the 1960s, Daisy partnered with the U.S. Junior Chambers (the Jaycees) to establish a nationwide youth shooting education program.
To me, the point is this; crawling around the riverbank and in the woods with a Daisy BB gun is where I and a lot of other hunters leaned the basics of hunting and firearm safety. We learned how to safely carry a gun in the presence others, the importance of muzzle control with the firearm by never pointing it at anything I didn’t intend to shoot, making sure of my target and what was beyond it, and treating all guns as loaded, always. These are the foundations of all gun safety and they were all learned with that little Daisy BB gun.
Along with the safety aspects we learned all the basics on hunting while toting the Daisy. Learning how to sit quietly, stalking game, reading tracks and other sign like what food sources were important in relation to the game we are hunting. One of my fondest memories while hunting was watching my son sneak up on a nice whitetail buck when he was very small. The deer had come into our area while we were sitting listening for turkeys. Jesse was carrying his trusty little Buck Daisy BB gun and he asked if he could stalk the deer and take a shot. I said go ahead and watched in amazement as he proceeded to get much closer to the buck than I ever thought he would. It was hard to tell who was the most surprised, me or the deer when Jesse finally raised the little air gun after a very careful stalk. At the shot the buck threw his head up and left there in high gear.