Pass­ing down tra­di­tions

Maryland Independent - - Sports - Jamie Drake jamiedrake­out­doors@out­look.com

Over the week­end, friends and fam­ily gath­ered their lawn­chairs ‘round the grill for a spir­ited cook­out in the back­yard to cel­e­brate our na­tion’s birth­day.

Hot­dogs, ham­burg­ers and of course my Aunt Joan’s dev­iled eggs were among the all-Amer- ican fare served that af­ter­noon. At dusk, my hus­band even sur­prised us with a fire­works dis­play that young and old alike en­joyed.

At most fam­ily get-to­geth­ers, my brother-in-law de­liv­ers a thought­ful and mean­ing­ful prayer be­fore the meal. It’s one of those tra­di­tions passed down through the fam­ily over the gen­er­a­tions. Even for the non-re­li­gious, that solemn mo­ment of grat­i­tude leaves each lis­tener in a con­tem­pla­tive mood. It’s a tra­di­tion I’m sure many Amer­i­cans can re­late to.

This Fourth of July we de­cided start a fam­ily tra­di­tion to make the event a lit­tle more mean­ing­ful for our kids. My daugh­ters each read a sec­tion of the U.S. Con­sti­tu­tion to help them bet­ter un­der­stand the

free­doms we en­joy. We spent a lot of time on the Pre­am­ble and the Bill of Rights.

Amer­i­can pa­tri­ots fought and died to pro­vide us those rights, and I don’t want to chance my chil­dren tak­ing them for granted or not un­der­stand­ing what was gifted to them.

Each read­ing spurred dis­cus­sion and a fair amount of rev­er­ence for the peo­ple who pro­vided the foun­da­tion for our pros­per­ity. And, in the process, I had a rev­e­la­tion when I found out who the man is be­hind the name Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer.

That event got me think­ing of im­por­tant tra­di­tions we pass down through our fam­i­lies. Some of my fond­est mem­o­ries and most prized pos­ses­sions are rooted in the Amer­i­can tra­di­tion of gun own­er­ship.

When my par­ents would take us on road trips to Penn­syl­va­nia to visit fam­ily and see where the Lithua­nian and Ir­ish im­mi­grants who founded the Amer­i­can branch of our fam­ily started off, I al­ways looked for­ward to vis­it­ing my Un­cle Tom. He had an air ri­fle range in the base­ment of his row­house where we’d spend hours shoot­ing both tar­gets and the breeze. As a teenager, I spent al­most as much time shoot­ing .22s with my dad as I did cast­ing lures off the back of his bass boat.

If you knew my dad, you would know that he was very in­ter­ested in mak­ing sure his girls could han­dle a weapon and de­fend them­selves. His col­lege grad­u­a­tion gift to me was a very nice Beretta hand­gun. My sis­ter got a 12-gauge shot­gun, which was prob­a­bly more prac­ti­cal for some­one liv­ing in the wilds of Maine. Thanks to our fa­ther’s care­ful in­struc­tion, my sis­ter and I can pro­tect our­selves, dis­patch preda­tors and even pro­cure our own food.

Re­cently, the re­sults of the Civil­ian Marks­man­ship Pro­gram’s Na­tional Three-Po­si­tion Cham­pi­onships came across my in­box and scrolling through the rank­ings, I had good rea­son to smile.

This or­ga­ni­za­tion strives to

give ev­ery child the chance to ex­pe­ri­ence marks­man­ship train­ing and be schooled in gun safety, and it sanc­tions com­pet­i­tive shoot­ing matches for ju­niors and adults across the coun­try. In this par­tic­u­lar event, com­peti­tors fired 20 shots in each of three po­si­tions: prone, kneel­ing and stand­ing.

First place in the ag­gre­gate cat­e­gory went to 14-year-old Katie Zaun of the Buf­falo Sharp­shoot­ers from North Dakota. Re­becca Lamb of Vir­ginia came in sec­ond and Sarah Os­born, also hail­ing from Vir­ginia, came in third. I was smil­ing be­cause 7 of the 10 top shoot­ers were ladies.

While 2016 was a record year for firearm sales, the slump fore­casted for by many for 2017 has not yet ma­te­ri­al­ized.

This past May, the FBI

per­formed 1,942,677 back­ground checks for gun sales, a fig­ure higher than May’s to­tal the pre­vi­ous year. While NICS checks don’t cor­re­late one-for-one with firearms sold each month, it’s still a re­li­able in­di­ca­tor of how many were prob­a­bly sold.

Many of those firearms were bought for tar­get shoot­ing. No doubt many peo­ple buy their first gun for self-de­fense, but end up en­joy­ing the ini­tial train­ing so much they want to con­tinue shoot­ing for the pure fun of it and to prac­tice the dis­ci­pline it takes to get bet­ter.

My dad and I spent many a sum­mer af­ter­noon tak­ing aim with our Cross­man and Daisy air ri­fles on the small range we built in our back­yard. It’s a pas­time I’m thank­ful he shared with me, and it’s a good thing for the fu­ture of our coun­try that the next gen­er­a­tion, in­clud­ing a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of girls, are learn­ing how to han­dle firearms safely and

shoot prop­erly and ac­cu­rately.

Many coun­tries around the world, not just the United States, have laws that al­low gun own­er­ship. What is rare about our coun­try is that our right to bear arms is just that — an ac­tual right. Our fore­fa­thers who risked ev­ery­thing to earn that right en­shrined it quite clearly within the Con­sti­tu­tion. In other coun­tries, po­lit­i­cal winds may change and laws can be passed. But in Amer­ica we are guar­an­teed this right.

And who was Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer, the man with the un­usual name? He was born near Port To­bacco in 1723, was a Jus­tice of the Peace in Charles County, served as the first pres­i­dent of the Mary­land Se­nate and was un­cle of none-other-than Thomas Stone, one of Mary­land’s sign­ers of the Dec­la­ra­tion of In­de­pen­dence.

More im­por­tantly, Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer was one of

the three Mary­lan­ders who had the honor of sign­ing the U.S. Con­sti­tu­tion.

Be­yond BOW

If you’re a woman (or man) in­ter­ested in get­ting some hands-on ex­pe­ri­ence in the out­doors in a ca­sual, non-threat­en­ing en­vi­ron­ment, then you’ll want to sign up for BOW’s mail­ing list to re­ceive up­dates. BOW stands for Be­com­ing an Out­doors Woman and is run by the good folks at the Wildlife and Her­itage Ser­vice divi­sion of the Mary­land Depart­ment of Nat­u­ral Re­sources.

Each fall, BOW of­fers an overnight work­shop with classes such as firearm safety, pre­serv­ing the har­vest, fly fish­ing, out­door sur­vival skills and just about some­thing for ev­ery­one who wants to spend time out­side en­joy­ing na­ture’s bounty. Th­ese classes are de­signed to give par­tic­i­pants enough knowl­edge to fur­ther

pur­sue their in­ter­ests once the work­shop is over. This year’s fall work­shop will be held Oct. 27 to 29 in Gar­rett County. Reg­is­tra­tion opens later this month.

Through­out the course of the year, other Be­yond BOW work­shops are held in var­i­ous lo­ca­tions across Mary­land and can span a day to a week­end of in­struc­tion. This year’s Be­yond BOW top­ics ranged from bird­ing to rock­fish how-to’s and there was even a fam­ily fun day last month to en­gage the chil­dren and spouses of par­tic­i­pants in out­door pur­suits.

Wing Shoot­ing 101, a Be­yond BOW work­shop, is sched­uled for Sept. 8 to 10 in Gar­rett County. Th­ese work­shops fill up fast, within a day or two of the an­nounce­ment. Get first dibs by putting your­self on the mail­ing list, found on the left-hand side of the web­page at http://dnr.mary­land.gov/ wildlife/Pages/Ed­u­ca­tion/ bow.aspx.

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