In a blog post a few days ago titled Jack Was Impressed, I told you how I made a once in a lifetime shot while target shooting with my dad, older brother, and a friend. Today I will tell you about another target shooting experience in the same place at another time.
As I said, when I got out of the Army in 1974, my brother Jack had a farmhouse on some land outside of Toledo, Ohio, where we used to do some informal target shooting. That winter, my old high school buddy Dan Connell and I were out there shooting, even though there was over a foot of snow on the ground. A kid from down the street showed up with a Marlin .22 semi-automatic rifle and asked if he could shoot with us, too. We said fine, as long as he was careful.
If you’re not familiar with firearms, .22 ammunition comes in three sizes – Short, Long, and Long Rifle. They are interchangeable in some firearms, but most semi-automatics require the higher-powered .22 Long Rifle ammunition to make them function properly. The other types of ammunition do not have enough power to make the action work, and they will jam. This kid had some .22 Short bullets, and every time he fired his rifle it would jam and he would have to clear it manually. He was very good about keeping the barrel pointed downrange or at the ground.
After a while, we had knocked over all of the tin cans we were shooting at, and I went up to set them back up. I never heard the shot, but I felt something thump me in the back, and I thought Dan had thrown a snowball at me. When I turned back around to look at him, he was standing there with his mouth hanging open, and the kid was running away. “He shot you,” Dan said. I asked what he meant, and he said the kid had been messing with his rifle and it went off and the bullet hit the ground and came up and hit me. He said he actually saw it hit my jacket. I thought he was joking, but Dan insisted it had happened, and even though I didn’t feel any pain, I stuck my hand up on my back and when I pulled it out there was a small spot of blood on my finger.
Now, a couple of things were in my favor. A .22 Short is a low-powered round. According to Dan, the bullet ricocheted off the ground and came back up to hit me, which meant it had lost a lot of velocity. And due to the cold, I was wearing a heavy Army field jacket, a flannel shirt, and thermal long johns. After I touched the wound, it began to sting a little bit but didn’t really hurt, and I told Dan that I had been shot before and this didn’t feel like being shot at all.
I had known my buddy Dan since I was 13, and even then, he was a big kid. In 6th grade he stood over 6 feet tall and was very husky. His size intimidated a lot of people, but Dan was a gentle giant. And in spite of his size, as it turned out, he couldn’t handle a crisis very well at all. We went up to the house but nobody was home. Dan thought we should break in and call an ambulance but I told him that we weren’t going to break into the house, and I didn’t think I was injured very badly. I suggested he just drive me to the local emergency room.
That might have worked if Dan hadn’t dropped his car keys in the snow and we had to spend 15 minutes or so looking for them. When we found them we got into his car and he was so rattled that he couldn’t start it, and he told me I would have to drive. So we switched places, and then Dan asked me not to lean back against his white seats because he didn’t want to get blood on them. I said a couple of things to him that probably weren’t very nice.
Driving away, I just did not feel like I had been seriously injured and decided that we would stop at my house because we would pass it on our way to the nearest ER. We went inside, and I stripped off my jacket and shirts, and then, standing in front of the big mirror on our bathroom wall, with Dan holding a smaller mirror behind me, I felt around my back and discovered a lump. I squeezed it like one would a zit and heard the bullet pop out and hit the floor. A second later, I heard Dan hit the floor. In the process of passing out, he smacked his forehead on either the toilet or the bathtub, I’m not sure which, but he gave himself a heck of a gash. Yes, folks, it was a circus.
It didn’t take me long to get Dan to come around, and I told him to call my dad and ask him to come over and take a look at things, just to be sure. So Dan called my dad and said, “Frank, can you come to Nick’s house real quick? He got shot.”
It was probably a 15 or 20 minute drive from my parents’ house to mine, but I think it wasn’t much more than 10 minutes before my dad came whipping into the driveway, taking out our picket fence in the process. Now picture this, he rushes into the house and bathroom, and I’m standing there acting normally while there is blood everywhere, and Dan is sitting on the edge of the bathtub holding a sanitary napkin to his forehead to stop the bleeding. My old man was shocked, to say the least, and once he determined that Dan wasn’t going to die anytime soon, he looked at my wound and said, “You idiots called me for that?”
I had tried using some Q-tips and Scope mouthwash to clean it out, just in case there was any infection, but Dad decided that we might want to get something a little better than that, so he told Dan to call my wife, who worked at a hospital, and to tell her to bring home any kind of antibiotic cream or gel that she could get her hands on. When she asked why, the fool said, “Frank wants to put it on Nick’s gunshot wound.” Of course, that resulted in another frantic drive to my house.
When it was all said and done, we wound up taking Dan to the emergency room to get stitches in his forehead. My dad suggested we not tell them about the gunshot wound. It just seemed better that way.
The good news is that Dan got a new nickname out of it. From that day on, my dad called him Tex. It took a while for Dan to ask him what that was all about, and my dad told Dan if he was an old west cowboy, folks would call him the Kotex Kid.
And finally, here’s a chuckle to start your day from the collection of funny signs we see in our travels and that our readers share with us.
Thought For The Day – Nobody ever wins the rat race.