Remember When: Ralphie and His Red Ryder BB Gun
By Phil Heywood, Briarwood Resident and regular contributor to the monthly residents’ newsletter, News & Notes.
There’s nothing more exciting in a young boy’s life than receiving his first air rifle. This is the storyline of the popular movie “A Christmas Story” in which Ralphie Parker, age nine, wants a BB gun for Christmas more than anything else in the world. His parents are against it, saying in the famous line, “You’ll shoot your eye out!” When he indeed gets his wish, this doesn’t happen but lots of other problems do. On the first shot, the gun ricochets back at Ralphie knocking off his glasses, which he then steps on breaking them. In the movie things go downhill from there but all ends happily with the last scene showing him in bed that night with his treasured new present beside him.
Like Ralphie, my friends and I got our own BB guns at about the same age. Another Briarwood resident relates that fathers in his neighborhood got together and decided that the 10th birthday was the appropriate age for their sons’ first rifle. We spent many hours setting up tin cans and other targets to shoot at from various distances. Sometimes we even let our sisters have a turn! Targets could be set up anywhere as their effective range is fairly short at about 5 to 10 yards after which inaccuracy and low speed makes hitting the target difficult. My Dad nailed targets to our work bench in the basement so that the whole family could participate. The Red Ryder BB Gun is still made today by Daisy Outdoor Products which started as the Plymouth Iron Windmill Co. in 1882. The company is known today as the granddaddy of the air gun industry brands.
The world of play and recreation has vastly changed since we were children. Today even kids age 9 or 10 are into video games, cell phones, texting, Facebook and other forms of social media. Outdoor activities are usually supervised and well organized so the use of BB guns may not be as popular anymore. The next time you’re talking to your grandchildren or kids of that age, ask them if they own a BB gun and when was the last time they shot one for fun.