Red Ryder Beginnings

Through my rifle’s optics I watched the 14″ steel plate topple over 1000 yards away. A broad grin of satisfaction grew upon my face. It would stay there all day.

After touching off literally hundreds of thousands of rounds over my lifetime of dedicate aim small miss small marksmanship discipline, making my first 1000 yard shot on my new Discovery Channel TV program is unquestionably the pinnacle of my ballistically coefficient life.

I have achieved the ultimate gun nut American dream by being trained by the greatest snipers the world has ever known, being one of the lucky few to get so much triggertime with the heroes of the US Military and law enforcement. I have spent my life studying guns, admiring guns, shooting guns, fondling guns, cleaning guns, buying guns, wearing out guns, going to gun shows, writing about guns, promoting gun ownership, giving guns as gifts, and teaching others about guns. I’m the gun guy, a loud guitar Dirty Harry with a ponytail.

I’ve never apologized for guns and never will. There are no bad guns, only bad people who either use guns in the commission of a crime or others who try to ban guns and keep other free, law-abiding Americans from having the means to defend themselves. It’s real simple. Bad people do bad things. Guns cause crime like spoons cause obesity.

Precision marksmanship, or playing the guitar the way Chuck Berry would want me to, has never come easy to me. Gungho practice, perseverance and persistence is the only way I know.

Fortunately, as it pertains to guns, my dad and uncle introduced me to guns the way it needs to be done: smart, slow and safe.

While I now own more guns than the 82nd Airborne, my first gun is still the most important gun I’ve ever owned. Many of you probably owned one just like it as your first gun.

That gun was my Daisy Red Ryder BB gun. It started it all for me. It taught me hand/eye coordination, discipline, and patience which is the essence of shooting and overall quality of life itself.

Every kid I knew owned a Red Ryder. Between my buddies and myself, we shot enough BBs to fill up a tandem garbage scow. We must have spent thousands of hours in the woods plinking and doing vermin control. It’s what kids growing up in the 1950s did. We didn’t go to the mall or play video games. We went to the woods and explored.

I’m often asked which is my favorite gun or caliber. That’s tough because I enjoy and use them all. All of my guns serve a utilitarian purpose. From procuring my family’s dinner to protecting myself and loved ones, guns are as natural to me as breathing and burning up guitar picks.

What I’m rarely asked is what I believe to be the most important gun. Without question, the Red Ryder BB gun is the most important gun in the history of American weaponry. I suspect more American shooters have begun their shooting lifestyle with a Red Ryder than any other gun. Tens of millions of Red Ryders have probably been sold, making it the most popular gun in American history.

All of the major gun manufacturers who produce amazing weaponry and the hundred plus million Americans who own them should pay homage to the little gun that doesn’t get its due but that started it all: the Daisy Red Ryder, the most important gun in America’s shooting history.

That thousand yard shot would not have been made without my Daisy Red Ryder showing me the way. Get your child a Daisy Red Ryder and continue America’s grand shooting heritage.


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  1. Jumped in with my son & started him off with a Remington .22 (it actually cost LESS than the BB Gun I was looking at) The America I grew up in is at a crossroads. We need to take this Mother Back! Thanks For all the music & words of wisdom Ted, You are a true American Patriot!

  2. Yeah, the first gun my son got was a 10/22 as a birthday present from his parents. More recently, he received a M&P15 Sport. He’s hoping to get a deer with the latter this fall. Wish us luck!

  3. jeff stewart

    I remember taking that little Daisy BB repeater and hunting all sorts of dangerous beasts in our back yard. my mom would often find me roasting some sot of bird or critter over a fire in our back yard. I was taught you dont kill it unless your gonna eat it or its doing harm in some way. So being as the robins and red birds were not a threat to anything other than the bird seeds in the feeder I figured I had best eat them…I remember having to figure out the trajectory because every one of them I ever had al had an arch and a curve to the BB flight path…What wonderful vivid memories i have of that little Daisy BB gun…Thanks Ted for reminding meand bringing a smile to my face..

  4. Mike

    Have to jump in here. Great article and oh so true. I started with a BB gun. I started my son, now 11, with a Crossman 760 when he was 4. Everything started with gun safety–where the barrel points and doesn’t point, safety on, find your target, safety off, shoot, safety on. Everything else about gun safety, gun respect and respect for wildlife was taught with this BB gun. Even the lesson of what happens when you make a mistake and violate even a minor safety rule: losing BB gun privileges for two weeks. Man you would have thought it was the end of the world! But even at age 11 my son has gun-safety awareness that rivals any adult I know. He will not touch even his own gun without permission, will not take a gun handed to him without verifying that the safety is on and checking to see whether it is loaded, etc. He’s since acquired more guns–more than I had when I was 25 I am almost embarrassed to say–and he’s saved his own money to buy a couple of them himself. He’s been hunting since he was 6, and started bow-hunting when he was 10. I made him practice until he could shoot 4-inch groups at 20 yards, which did not take long. And once again showing me up, he killed a spike on his first ever trip to the woods with a bow at 23 yards. Lucky kid to have someone teach him about the joys of gun ownership and safety, hunting and most importantly–respect and love for our environment!