I had been pestering my parents for several months for my first rifle. I was really hoping that this coming Christmas was the day. After all, it was the only thing on my “list.” I was in the fourth grade and had done some plinking and even joined my dad, grandfather and uncle on several small game hunts, following them around with a broomstick in my hands (I was told to treat it as if it were a firearm, and if I pointed it in the wrong direction, I heard about it). I looked at each of these men and the firearms they carried and owned with pride. I wanted one of my own.

I awoke Christmas morning and could not wait to see what was under the tree. As the family gathered in the living room and we started to open presents, I was a little disappointed that I did not see a long and slender box under the tree. I opened a few gifts, a hunter orange vest and hat, cartridge holder, flannel shirt and some other small hunting related items. As we finished opening the gifts and giving thanks, I could not help but be a little disappointed. I really wanted the same Ruger 10/22 that my Uncle Frank had. I guess it just wasn’t meant to be. Or maybe my parents thought I wasn’t ready. As my brother and I began cleaning up the wrapping paper, my mom turned to my dad and said, “I think there is one more gift.”

My dad opened the closet door and pulled out a long, narrow box. Could it be? He handed me the box and I tore the paper off and there it was - the Ruger symbol. As I opened the box and looked at the rifle, I realized that it was the Deluxe Sporter model with a walnut stock and checkering. I could not even speak. My dad reiterated the things he has said to me a thousand times about safety and the responsibility that goes along with firearms. “Once you fire a round, you can never call that bullet back,” were the words that stuck most with me. I can still hear those words every time I handle a firearm or fire a shot.


The author, Jon LaCorte, with his very first rifle that wears a riflescope bearing the name of the company he helped start, TRACT.

That was over 35 years ago, and I could never begin to count how many rounds have been put through that rifle. Or how many squirrels and woodchucks it has accounted for. But even though many rifles, shotguns and handguns have been added to the mix, that first one still gets used. I very rarely open the gun safe without picking it up, shouldering it and admiring my very first rifle. What I think makes this story so very special to me is that I am extremely proud and honored that today that rifle wears a scope that bears the name of the company I helped start…TRACT Optics…Where you belong!