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How Many Lessons Can One Gun Teach?

How Many Lessons Can One Gun Teach?

Like many gun owners who are parents, I plan on teaching my daughter how to safely use a firearm. Like everyone else, she will start out on a .22 and learn the 4 rules, how to shoulder the rifle, control breathing, line up the sights and squeeze the trigger. After the initial instruction, I want to teach her, in a very personal way, what firearms have to do with her heritage and the useful skills that go beyond the barrel of the gun.

Ishapore Enfield 2a1

Her first rifle will be an Ishapore Enfield 2a1 and her first lesson will be its history. Being half East Indian, I think it’s very important to understand how the history of her mothers country of origin is linked to this piece of weaponry.


India had been under the rule of the British Empire for hundreds of years. To maintain their power over the various kingdom states, the British East India Company formed a native Indian army, called the Sepoys. Though the British treatment of their Indian soldiers was good to begin with, as their control expanded, the favorable treatment diminished, pay was cut, and British officers began trying to convert the soldiers to Christianity. The final straw that broke the camel’s back was that the powder charge for the rifles was coated with cow fat to prevent the powder from becoming wet. The process of loading the Enfield (The Brown Bess smoothbore and/or the pattern 1853 rifled musket) required the soldier to bite the paper charge to open it. Consuming dead cow is extremely sacrilegious in the Hindu culture, and, coupled with the rest of the abuses of the British, caused the Sapoys to revolt.

Although the British relinquished control over India in 1947, an Enfield factory remained, producing the signature rifle for use by the Indian armed forces. later, in 1962, India had a war over a border dispute with China, called the Sino-Indian War. As a result of the war, it was decided that the .303 round needed to be replaced with the more modern 7.62×51 NATO. The Ishapore 2a1 is based on the SMLE Mk. III and the most distinguishable feature is the 12 round box magazine (as opposed to the classic rounded edge magazine).

The second lesson that will have to be learned is refinishing. If you have ever seen the Ishapore 2a1’s that make it over, you’ll understand the need for this lesson. Most, if not all, of the wood stocksĀ  have little to no coating at all, are painted on, banged up, scratched, carved, and whatever other type of abuse you can think of. Taking the time to sand down the wood, fill the damaged areas with sawdust and glue, re-stain and coat in oil will be a fun process. Learning a skill like this goes beyond guns, it teaches the basics of the painting/staining process for any type of wood that is used in furniture and framing.

Third, will be the basics of reloading. Because the 2a1 uses 7.62×51, that will make the process very easy. The 7.62×51 is a much more common caliber than the standard Enfield .303 and in a wide variety of bullet designs and weights. She’ll learn the different types of powders/primers, how they effect pressure, velocity, and accuracy.

Finally, she will be able to start learning the challenge of long range shooting. When first starting out, learning how to shoot a .22, it’s not very easy to push out beyond 100 yards. The light weight and low velocity of the bullet make accurate shooting difficult when the multiple variables of wind, elevation, and inconsistent factory powder charge come into play. With a 7.62×51 bullet that is hand loaded with consistency, she can learn to reach out to 400, 500, even 600 yards with iron sights. The skills of shooting and reloading are a great path to understanding the fundamentals of physics, chemistry, and fine motor control.

Every firearm ever produced, good or bad, has a history and a lesson to teach us as well as to the next generation of shooters. What have your guns taught you?


About The Author

Savage One

Savage has been shooting and pursuing the hobby of guns, tinkering, and learning about them. He started a YouTube channel at the beginning of 2007 as an experiment and for fun and it has grown into a kind of hillbilly bubba making gun, ammo, and accessory laboratory since then. He lives and works in and around the Spokane area, where there is a vibrant shooting culture and lots of great places to do it in. He has met and worked with lots of great people in the firearms industry there and plans on exploring that more in his videos in the near future. For now, it's all about shooting things and having fun.


  1. sevenbrokenbricks

    They’ve taught me just how critical a hundredth of an inch can be, and to be ready to take the steps that need to be taken.

    My father reloaded, and so do I. So I loaded some 45ACP rounds to take them to a CCW course in a Thompson Auto-Ordnance 1911 – and halfway through I started having out-of-battery on every other round. It was embarassing.

    I found out later that I’d just been taking the knowledge that this round headspaces on the case mouth, and the subsequent warning to go easy on the taper crimp, a little too seriously and under-crimped all the rounds. The correction was simple to apply and now it’s something I would trust with my life.

    • herrin

      I’ve learned so many lessons. It seems that every fundamental part of shooting can be broken down, analyzed and improved on. Yesterday was drawing practice. Draw, acquire sites and get two center mass hits as fast as possible. Breaking down the motions step by step and practicing each individual movement can bring so much improvement.

      Carrying a gun teaches patience and forces one to be much more level headed than the average person. There is also the very critical decision. Will I be able to defend the life of myself and my family? If you carry, you have likely answered yes to that question. There is no room to be wishy washy as that decision will need to take place too quickly.

      I reload 45ACP as well and that has taught me about a thousand lessons. Every bullet I seat is better than the last one and I shoot hundreds a week in competition. My embarassing story has to do with OAL. I had a bunch of rounds that work perfectly in my main 1911 but when I tried it in a new Remington 1911, it fired then the next round got stuck in the chamber. It was just a tiny bit too long and engaged the rifling enough that I couldn’t get it out. After struggling for a few minutes I had to grab the gunsmith and have him pop it out for me. I spent the next week finding an OAL that works in all of my 1911’s without issue.

      Humility – Being in the shooting world teaches humility. No matter how good I think I am getting, there is always 10 people in the room that are better than me. No matter how many people I instruct, I always learn something new in every class.

      Kindness – The ratio of great people in the shooting world is higher than any other subgroup of society that I have ever experienced.

      • Savage Chromasign

        I learned the same OAL lesson when I was loading my 9mm 147gr lead. I chambered the rounds in my sub-2000 and they fit fine. I tried the same thing in my PF-9 and the bullet would hang up. I did some research an found the base of the bullet was causing to case to bulge just slightly too much for the PF-9 chamber. I seated the bullet a few thousandths out and they dropped in perfectly and shot great.

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