American Rifleman - August 2017 - 42
got my first firearm on Christmas
Eve 1954 at the age of 12. It's
a Marlin Model 103.18 made for
Sears and Roebuck and sold under the
J.C. Higgins brand. After beginning
my shooting career with a BB gun, the
single-shot bolt-action rifle chambered in .22 Long Rifle was a much
Growing up on a farm presented a
great opportunity to shoot. My dad
had placed a bounty on the pigeons
that had invaded the hayloft of our
barn; they would dirty up the bales
of hay as well as break the windows.
With my underpowered BB gun I could
occasionally knock one down from
where they perched inside the cupola,
and my black lab was always ready
to finish them off. Now, with my new
.22, they had no chance.
Back in the 7th and 8th grades my
teacher would take those students
who owned guns (most did) out to a
remote area and teach us gun safety
and marksmanship. We brought our
guns to school on the bus and stored
them in the cloakroom-quite a
change from today.
The rifle gave me many hours of
enjoyment as a kid, shooting varmints,
pheasants and many hapless tin cans.
Later in life, when I visited the farm
with my own family, my two boys also
got to learn shooting with the same
old Marlin. Eventually, the barn where
my pigeon hunt took place had to be
torn down due to wind damage, but the
cupola was saved. Seeing it up close for
the first time, I got to see how I had
created something that looked like a
strainer because of all the bullet holes.
Today, being a hunter, I have
several firearms-but the first one is
still my favorite. Its well-worn beauty
is proof of all the love I've given
it over the years; it has been wellmaintained, and still shoots well.
I now display it on what I call my
"family heritage" gun rack. I hope
future generations of my family will
not only look at my old rifle, but will
use it as I have, and add to its history with adventures of their own.
TODD HEIMDAHL, MINNESOTA
NRA member photo
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