My Path to Becoming an M1 Garand Collector, Researcher and Author (Part 1/4)
My main interests have long been the study of history, firearms and shooting, and cars. All of these interests began at a young age. For my 10th birthday I received a Daisy BB rifle, no it was not a Red Ryder, so no shooting Black Bart! I could not begin to estimate how many BB’s were fired through hat BB rifle. The spring after I turned 12 my Dad took me out behind Grandpa’s barn and taught me to shot his .22 rifle and .22 revolver. As was common in the early 1960s it was typical plinking at tin cans removed from the burn pile, not shooting at paper bullseyes. I was fairly good at it and I was hooked! I wish I could tell you that both rifle and revolver were big name brands or scarce models, but they weren’t. We did not have a lot of money and my Dad was utilitarian and was never a “gun guy.” To him guns were simply tools. The rifle was a Marlin M81 and the revolver was an Iver Johnson. I inherited both when my Dad passed away in 1999. Neither is worth much monetarily, but to me they are of high value, as that is where my interest of firearms and shooting began.
I was born in 1953 at Camp LeJeune, NC near the end of my father’s three years in the US Marine Corps. In the late 1950s and early 1960s Dad and I spent many hours watching John Wayne in “The Sands of Iwo Jima”, Jack Webb in “The D.I.” and the TV show “Combat!”. While other kids were reading whatever it was that young boys read back then, I was reading my father’s Guide Book for Marines. I taught myself map and compass reading, first aid and read and reread the sections on the U.S. Rifle, Cal. .30 M1 rifle and M1911A1 pistol. I knew that when I was old enough I would own one of each. I of course succeeded in that quest, but like most things I have done in my life, I over did it a bit on that ‘one of each!’
After I turned 21 and purchased my first handgun, a S&W Model 10, I discovered that I was a pretty fair shot with a handgun, but could improve. To hone those skills I began reading many handgun shooting instruction books and magazine articles in between trips to the range. Then in the late 1970s I ‘discovered’ Col. Jeff Cooper. His writings and the Modern Technique of the pistol that he taught were what I was seeking. Col Cooper’s love of the 1911 and the influence of my previous ‘Guide Book’ reading required that I own a 1911 pistol. By early 1979 I had scrapped up $228.50 to purchase a new Colt MKIV Series 70 Government Model in .45 ACP.
In 1980 I began participating in IPSC completion. In 1981 enrolled in a class with renowned international firearms trainer Ken Hackathorn. Ken had been one of Col. Cooper’s first guest instructors at the famed Gunsite. That was the first of many classes with Ken, and it began a friendship that continues through this day. I could not begin to estimate how many rounds of ammo I fired through that first Colt Government model. But I do know that it was so many rounds that I wore out the Series 70 Collet Barrel Bushing; suddenly the pistol would not hold a group. I had a King’s Gun Works Match Barrel Bushing installed by a local gunsmith that shot with us and continued using it in competition. Sadly I sold that pistol after I had a new one and a backup one built. To this day I regret that sale.
In the summer of 1984, after our monthly IPSC matches, one of the guys announced that he had found a local DCM affiliated gun club (the forerunner of the CMP) and wanted to put a group together to shoot the required three matches to qualify for purchase of a ‘once in your lifetime’ M1 Garand rifle. Needless to say, I was in!
Visit our Blog to find out how joining a van load of shooting friends, off to shoot a DCM match lead me to collecting, researching and writing books about the M1 Garand.
By Scott Duff
All of our M1 Garand books are available on our website and several money saving bundles are available. They make great Christmas gifts!