Bob Brown

I met Bob Brown once while on a business trip to San Diego. I stopped by his home a few days after he had offered to fix a nagging reliability problem with my 1911 wad gun. As I sat in his garage that day and watched him gently turn the chamber reamer and then witnessed the impossibly tiny metal shavings that resulted, we chatted.

Bob told me he was a retired detective of the San Diego Police Department. He said he didn’t shoot much anymore but still enjoyed having shooters come by so they could visit and he could fix something for them.

As he handed my 1911 back, Bob refused all offer of payment.

“Just let me know if it does what you want,” he asked.

I was mildly surprised that he wanted to know my reaction more than how the gun now worked. His focus was in my response, not the gun’s.

I thanked him again as I left but felt confused. I had gone to what I thought was an expert gunsmith at his retirement home near San Diego but had enountered, instead, someone who was interested in my satisfaction, my pleasure, my joy. Bob was focused on me, on my desires. The gun on which he worked was merely the tool by which he sought to do something for a fellow human being.

I’m in the UK this week and, at a local air pistol range, met another gentleman with that same passion for sharing his expertise to help other shooters. His joy was in engendering joy, as simple as that. His advice on air pistols, how it should be held, how to read the pellets hitting the target and what to do about it were all about helping the shooter, not the shooting. His joy was in helping others do better that which they wanted to do better.

And on a different trip a month ago to Rhode Island, I met yet another gentleman who, again, shared his expertise and helped me shoot better. He too received the reward he sought when he glanced at my target, saw that the holes had moved closer to the center, and witnessed my surprise and joy at the improvement. One glance at my reaction was all the payment he needed.

One of the very best things we do in this sport is share ourselves. Bullseye, the really good and rewarding part of it, is about this. Shooting an X is nice but, let me ask, which do you remember more, your last target or the shooter you met once who shared some good advice or a small snippet of something that affected your life in some small but pleasing way?

I remember Bob.

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