Bud Cans and BBs

The Range

The Range

After months without writing, the words and ideas flood my mind, each yammering for attention. “Me! Me“ they shout, and ricochet in my head like BB’s in a Bud can.

“Why a Bud can?” we have been asked, when we have 10-20 empty Budweiser cans lined up on the old 4 x 4 , some in a row and others stacked up to create tall precarious pyramids. This is the target range, and the targets are always Bud cans. No other can will do. Someone did once sneak in a Pabst Blue Ribbon, and while the colors, red, white and blue, blended with the Annheuser-Busch palette, there was something not quite right about it, a cuckoo amidst the warblers, and as soon as it showed signs of age on the range it was cycled out.

Tenacious Man gave me a Daisy Red Ryder for Christmas, oh, maybe eight years ago now. I’d had cap guns as a little girl, and had gone pinging tin cans with my dad up on the hill at grandpas, but I cannot recall that I ever had my own BB gun. Cowhide vest, suede skirt, cowgirl hat and boots, yes. But never a BB gun. Christmas afternoon we put up the little paper target that came with it, but the silent hits and shredded bits of paper did not satisfy. Cans, it had to be cans.

But we do not drink beer or soft drinks. We could of course buy drinks and dump them, but of course not, how silly and wasteful. We could buy them back from a recycle center, but the first one I asked wasn’t sure they were allowed to do that. We could leave nickels in exchange for cans down the road where there is a collection bin for the local high school field trip, but somehow it felt like stealing. And they were pretty beat-up, too. And so our source is the side of the road.

Whether that first can was a Bud can I no longer recall, but the hunt for Buds has now become as much fun (almost) as shooting them. We Bud hunt as we drive, and I will remember locations of roadside deposits as I bike around the island. Like stalking any prey, we have learned its habits and behaviors. A roadside can, if unable to be retrieved at once, can be safely left for a few days before it gets flattened, and therefore useless. I recently discovered a Bud route. At least once a week some regular traveler tosses his or her can out the window near the hill past Seal Harbor, on the right side heading to Northeast. Yes, I am curious about this regular deposit of Bud cans, but mostly am delighted to have a constant supply of virgins. That is what we call a can before the first pellet punctures it. New cans are always given a premiere performance, set up alone, or with a few fellow virgins, as we take aim and fire.

The backyard target range has been used by parents, kids, friends, grandkids. My daughter and her friends took aim before heading out on prom night. Grand nephew Ethan and family friend Jasmine took to the range before ( and after) s’mores. T.M. likes to demonstrate his one-handed over the shoulder shot, and safety buttons, proper handling and “this is not a toy” practices are followed by all.

The ping of a direct hit is gratifying. And since it takes focus, any frustrations or worries are forced out of mind. Just working for that solid thunk of dented metal, concentrating on lining up sights and holding steady. A hit usually puts a small hole in the can, and the more hits the more holes and openings. At some point, BBs will go in and get caught inside, where they spin around, metal tapping on metal, looking for a way out. Just like the words and thoughts in my mind.

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