The year would have been 1960, I believe. That would have put me at 12 years old and it was the first summer I worked on staff at Camp Yocona, BSA. That’s memorable for me because the minimum age for a staff member was 15. An exception was made for me because I knew Morse Code backwards and forwards and I knew a good method for teaching it. The camp needed a Morse Code instructor. My scoutmaster was the camp director that year, so he did some rule bending and I spent my summer at Camp Yocona.
Teaching Morse Code only occupied a couple of hours each day, which left me time to spend at the rifle range. I began working my way through the NRA Junior Marksmanship program, earning patches and also qualifying for the Rifle Shooting merit badge.
I got to know the gentleman who ran the rifle range quite well. His name was Lum (yes, I have that right) Barnes and he was a farmer from somewhere around Booneville, MS. Lum was patient with me, teaching me the ins and outs of sighting, breathing and trigger control. At the end of the summer he told me some of the camp’s rifles were being replaced and the old ones were for sale. “How much?” I asked, having earned no money for the summer as the staff jobs were all volunteer. He offered the Remington 514 that I had been using for my patch earning for $4. I was able to come up with $4. Lum told me if I had another $2 I could also take home a Marlin 80 that was missing it’s magazine, so had to be used as a single. Two single shot, bolt action .22s for $6 seemed quite a bargain to me.
Indeed it was as I still have both guns and have learned quite a bit from them. First has to do with sighting. Throughout the summer I had adjusted my sighting using the Remington because I had learned that hitting the bullseye required my aiming two inches to the left and one inch down. I hadn’t shot the Marlin, so I didn’t know it’s aiming quirks but I did learn that I could buy a magazine for it from Numrich gun parts. When I started shooting the rifle, it wouldn’t eject. Numrich had an ejector for it, as well. Both rifles needed their stocks refinished and to be re-blued. Using Birchwood Casey bluing and stock refinishing products, I turned both rifles into pretty nice examples.
The sighting on the Remington turned out to be an excellent learning experience. When I took the class to become an NRA Basic Pistol Instructor and learned for the first time in my life about eye dominance, I discovered that although I’m right-handed, I’m left eye dominant. When I sighted the Remington from left shoulder I discovered the sights were right on the money.
Both rifles have required extractor/ejector replacement over the years, but they shoot fine and are used to introduce others to shooting sports.