(LA Progressive) -- spent most of my grade school years growing up in the Midwest where owning guns and hunting was a tradition that was typically passed on from father to son. I took the required gun class to get a hunting license and then pursued hunting pheasants and rabbits with my father and uncle. Often I would take my .22 rifle or .410 shotgun down to the nearby river without adult supervision.
In the summer of 1968, I joined the Air Force where in basic training I was taught to disassemble, re-assemble, and shoot the M16 rifle. Our goal was to get as many rounds as possible in the center of the paper target. Clearly, the M16 was different than any other rifle I had shot, but I put those thoughts aside and focused on hitting the paper target. I continued to train with the M16 as I moved from base to base and eventually received an expert marksmanship medal for my accuracy in hitting the paper target.