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Alan Liere: The Kid and the Shooting Instructor

With the Washington State deer season coming up, I have been tinkering with my reloader and sighting in my rifle. I have also been giving a friend’s daughter an opportunity to shoot while checking out how much she has retained from the Hunters’ Safety Course she passed last spring. As I live in the country, I have an excellent spot to do this, firing down from my front lawn into my pasture.

I am confident the young lady now knows what to do and when and how to do it. To allay any fears she might have had as she prepared to shoot her first-ever big game rifle, I told her I would take the first shot. “It won’t kick if it’s tight against your shoulder,” I said. “If it isn’t, though, the scope can come back and hit you in the face.” With that, I laid the rifle across a sandbag and squeezed one off.

“Alan,” she said when I raised my head after the shot, “your eyebrow is bleeding.”

“Yes, I know,” I said bravely. “See what I mean about keeping the stock tight?” Not only was my eyebrow bleeding, but one lens of my shooting glasses was cracked and the frame was askew. Blood trickled along the crease beside my nose.

As I entered the house looking for a Band-Aid I winced, remembering two other similar blood-lettings from my past. The first was because I stupidly tried an off-hand shot at a mule deer that was above me, partially obscured by a column of basalt. I decided I could get a better line if I tilted the rifle to the side. At the report, the deer miraculously dropped, but so did I – with a nasty cut gushing blood.

The second incident was worse because I was not supposed to be hunting. I had called in sick at work, mumbling something to the secretary about Dr. Goodtimes and his recommendation I take a few days off.

At the time of the call, I was 600 miles from home in Montana antelope country. I wasn’t even shooting at an antelope when the accident occurred, though – I was checking the zero of my rifle on a white clump of dirt 300 yards away. At the shot, the scope kicked back, leaving a perfect, red welt that oozed blood all the way around my right eye. I told a lie and I had been chastised.

When I returned to work a few days later, my boss – a hunter – called me into his office. “That’s a nasty welt you have there,” he said.

“Yes, I replied. “A kind of pink eye, I think.”

“Pink eye?” he smirked. “Pink eye?”

“I believe so,” I said.

“Tell me, Liere,” he said. “Do you think I might get it?”

I knew I’d been had and it was best to come clean. “Not anymore, sir. The antelope season ended yesterday.”

“Alan,” my friend’s daughter said when I returned with a Band-Aid over my eyebrow. “Does it hurt?”

“Does what hurt?” I asked innocently.

“That scope thing,” she said.

“Now don’t you worry about it missy,” I smiled. “It’s just a kind of pink eye. Lean against those sandbags … that’s it. Rifle hard against your shoulder … just like that. Now squeeeeeze … Nice shot, kiddo! I’ll bet you get a deer this year for sure.”

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