The Cast: Anne (Sarah’s friend), Myself (dad), Sarah (my daughter), Two Boys (warned).
I pulled the trigger. The weapon discharged. I hit my target.
Many of you are probably familiar with the stereotype of the father and his shotgun, warning his daughter’s date about what would befall him if he should do anything to his daughter. Well, I would dare to say that almost every father that has a daughter has considered—at one point or another—how to terminate the existence of said daughter’s date and/or boyfriend. It’s that protective/fatherly instinct. And, almost as common as that, is the before-date gun.
The before-date gun is that gun that the father holds, or cleans, or points to when the boyfriend, or date, arrives to pick up the daughter. I have heard of those moments all through my youth. I knew a dad who would—when the date arrived—sit down with the young man, get his name, and then proceed to write it upon a larger caliber bullet cartridge. He would chat with the youth about the plans for the night, let him see the bullet with his name on it, then let the two kids go knowing full well the boy got the message.
I knew another father who would shoot his rifle earlier in the day so when the boy arrived, the dad could clean it in front of him. This showed the young man that this dad knew how to use his firearm, and was willing to do so. And, it was these kinds of stories and ideas that got me excited to do something similar when my daughter was old enough to date. But, I had to do it my way.
When Sarah (my oldest) was asked on her first date, she had a friend (Anne) that was living with us at the time, both of them were asked out for a double date. I got to be the one to warn the two boys about what would happen to them should they do anything stupid to either one of the young ladies who were under my charge. I couldn’t have been more excited.
While I have training in several firearms thanks to my Uncle Sam, I didn’t have any of my own—at the time. So, I needed to get creative. And, I did. Plus, firearms are overused to make the point I wanted to make, so I used the types of ‘persuaders’ that I had a ready supply of: The quiet kind.
At the appointed hour, the two young men knocked on my door, and I opened the it—the door swung open, into the house, and to my left. I invited them in, and directed them to the sitting area. As per design, the layout of our front room brings people into the room and gently forces them into one funneled path that allows them to see whatever is on the coffee table for display. And tonight, the display was almost all of my batarangs (at least a dozen or more), some cloths, oil, metal files, and sharpening stones.
Both of the boys were slightly nervous at the sight they beheld. They quickly became more nervous at the sword that was now in my hand that hadn’t been only moments before. Because I had walked behind the boys—into the seating area—I was able to have removed the sword from its hiding place without it being noticed. Using the sword, I gestured for them both to have a seat (next to each other, backs toward the window, with an obscured view of the front door), and then I situated myself in the corner of the room (full view of the room’s entirety).
“Where did that come from?” Came the slightly nervous question. Followed by, “Did you have that when you answered the door?”
I explained to them both, that no, I did not have it when I answered the door, and that I had several weapons similar to it secreted about my home. In this way, I always have something within arms reach that will make it easy to end someone’s life, should they choose to violate my home or the persons who dwell within its wall. Given the size of their eyes, and maybe because my Marine Corps photos were above my head, I was pretty sure they believed me. And, they should have. Because it’s true.
“Gentlemen, do you know what a burr is?”
I got both a yes and a no from them. So, I clarified what it was (it should be noted here that I was taught that a burr on an sharpened edge was a ding or dent in the edge or blade. I have since learned that I was in error), and that I was simply deburring my batarangs. I then asked them if they knew why an edged weapon would get a burr. They figured that it would be from using it. Correct.
Then I asked if they knew why I would have to deburr my batarangs. They decided it was because I had used them. Correct, again. So far, these boys were pretty smart. Hopefully, they were picking up on the subtlety of what I was trying to convey to them. So far, it had appeared that way.
We continued to discuss what the plans were for the evening, while I sharpened and polished my batarangs. Everything was going according to plan. They had never looked about the room. Their attention had been on me, the sword, and the display of weapons set all about the coffee table.
After the brief rundown of the nights activities had concluded, I reached underneath our coffee table, retrieved a previously hidden (and loaded) crossbow, and held it in my left hand. The four eyes of the two boys were now at their widest.
“Before you take my daughter and her friend out tonight, you need to understand a few things.” As I said this I had positioned my torso so that it was squared with theirs, despite my being slightly off to one side of them both, all the while remaining in my chair. I then extended my left arm directly outward from my left side and then shifted it so that it was at an angle of about 5° forward. Not pointed at the boys, but not within my line of sight. (now it should be noted that my family was completely informed as to what I was going to do—for safety reasons—and my wife was keeping the younger children out of the way so that no harm would come to them)
My eyes were locked onto their eyes, I wasn’t looking where I was aiming, but I knew where my target was. Then, I fired the crossbow. The bolt* flew straight and true. Well, almost.
The bolt launched and impacted the wall with a solid ‘thump’. And with that, both boys made a slight, but still visible, jump. The bolt had hit the 4″x6″ paper target taped to the wall 30 feet away. It had hit the bullseye, just not dead-center. All of it done with my peripheral vision. That target had been obscured when the front door had been opened and blocked it from view while the boys entered. They didn’t know it was even there. But they could now see direct results of some of my skills. You don’t spend your life training to be a superhero, then join the Marine Corps without learning a few things.
“Understand this: I am not left-handed, I wasn’t looking, and I still hit the target. Just let that sink in for a moment while I set forth the rules, okay?” They nodded. Good. “Good. First, open the doors for the ladies. Second, treat them like ladies—because they are. Third, have a good time. Alright?”
Meanwhile, off in the stairwell the Sarah and Anne had been silently giggling—barely able to contain themselves—as I psychologically terrorized their dates. “Okay girls, you can come out now.” Enter my daughter and friend. “You four all have a good time, okay?” I walked the group to the front door and watched as the boys opened the car doors and helped the girls into their seats. Everything was going to be just fine.
The boys were all too happy to comply. They understood. Smart boys.
*The ammunition for a crossbow are referred to as bolt(s).