By Tim H. Martin
Recently, I watched the movie "Full Metal Jacket." There's a scene in boot camp where one private asks another if he'd named his rifle yet, for good luck.
I had to laugh, because I'd given my firearms a girl's name for as long as I could remember.Until watching the movie, I didn't know it was a Marine Corps tradition, and I didn't know it was considered bad luck not to give your rifle a name. To me, it just seemed natural.
My first memory of naming a gun is from back in the 1970s, when I was 16-years-old.
I'd stacked lumber all summer in a hot Alabama sawmill to earn enough money to buy a squirrel gun — a Browning .22 semi-automatic.
I named the pretty little rifle Beverly, after a high school sweetheart. My next rifle was purchased in the early 1980s. I bought her with money given to me by my Grandfather Martin. Before he passed away, Granddaddy gave each of his grandchildren $500 to spend on anything we pleased.I was a poor college student at the time and couldn't afford a deer rifle. Somehow, buying a brand new .243 Remington Model 700 ADL seemed a wiser use of the money than books or tuition.I named the .243 after an Auburn University cheerleader I'd taken a shine to named Ginger. That name seemed to be a perfect fit.Both had perfectly balanced frames, both were elegant and slender, both were light and sporty, yet tough as hardwood. The rifle had a marbled, honey-colored walnut stock. She simply looked like a Ginger.In 2009, I gave Ginger to my son and told him the story behind her name and what this special heirloom meant to me. I’d probably taken more than 50 whitetails with it.
He took his first deer with Ginger, which makes the gun even more special now.When I got the job with Buckmasters in the late 1990s, I bought Johnnie Belle — a Remington Model 700 LSS. I named this .300 win mag after my grandmother, who had traits similar to that rifle.
Both were old, gray workhorses that I could always depend on in tough situations. And both would kick me like a mule if I wasn't paying attention. How perfect is that?
I've used Johnnie Belle to shoot everything from whitetails, to bears, to wildebeest, to zebras. In September 2017, I used it to shoot six wild pigs in five shots. Talk about lucky!
My favorite shotgun is named Allyson, after my wife. The name seemed to fit since my father-in-law was holding a 12-gauge semi-automatic when he persuaded me to marry her. Just kidding, Allyson!
I’ve always had exceptional luck with my firearms. Maybe I can attribute this to naming them right off the bat. Or maybe it’s because of the many hours I spent at the firing range. Most likely, I can attribute my good fortune to being surrounded by wonderful hunting/shooting teachers.
Whatever the case may be, if luck hasn’t been on your side lately: For luck or for fun, try naming your gun.
– Photo Courtesy of Tim H. Martin
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