… “I told her I’d be personally responsible for you and the gun and the way you use it. I told her that any time a boy is ready to learn about guns is the time he’s ready, no matter how young he is, and you can’t start too young to learn how to be careful.”… -The Old Man
The Old Man And The Boy was recommended to me from one of my Grandpa’s best friends, and one of my favorite people to create portrait photographs of, Chuck Jones. I grew up hunting and fishing with both, my Grandpa and Chuck (both shown below this paragraph) since I was 5 years old at a hunting cabin close to home (shown in the image above). My hunting ethics and respect for the outdoors were both adopted from them, and in turn…from their elders and teachers that they had while growing up.
While reading The Old Man And The Boy, I can’t help but recall many conversations that I’ve had with both my Grandpa and Chuck that nearly mirror the ones between, The Old Man And The Boy in this book. Conversations that they had with me as a kid, as well as conversations that they still have with me as an adult. These conversations mostly explained the importance of respect for the natural world as well as the importance of firearm safety. (Such as the image of the conversation between The Old Man And The Boy shown at the very top).
This concept of never starting a boy, or girl too young in learning the importance of being careful was interesting to me. I’ve never really thought about my upbringing around firearms in that sense before. I’m sure in the minds of many parents/people looking from the outside in…all they might be able to picture is an accident waiting to happen, depending on their upbringing of course. But now as I look back, not as a parent yet, but as an adult that was raised around firearms (in a careful and respectful way) and as someone that LOVES to introduce the world of hunting and firearms to others, I see it as one the best worlds that you could possibly welcome a person into…young or old.
I wasn’t too young to learn how to do things with care at the age of 5. I wasn’t too young to learn respect for the firearm, my elders, others that respected me, and even respect for myself for that matter. Being brought up in the hunting and shooting worlds as a child taught me lessons that I use every day. Lessons that have to do with trusting my gut and intuition, and also lessons that have to do with understanding that you must know the rules before/if you break them…which is the recipe for the ultimate success as an artist as far as I’m concerned (and something I exhibit in my artwork). Although…I do think that had I not been introduced to these concepts at a young enough age, they would have absolutely been more difficult to learn and understand at an older age. So in my eyes, no, you cannot start them too young…but there can be a major downside in starting them too old. That is the game of habit…create good habits before you have a chance to get accustomed to bad ones.
But for me to have the opportunity to be brought up in this way…I first had to be recognized as a potential success by the men that invited me to learn from it. It required a level of trust from the old man to the young man. So for that, I’m thankful that both Chuck and my Grandpa invited me and also kept me in this world of firearms and the appreciation for the outdoors…and I am excited for the time where I see the opportunity to invite a young man, or girl into this world that is full of valuable life lessons as well.