I targeted a .45 caliber, breech loading Sharps rifle as my favorite firearm at the Wasilla gun show last weekend. Sad to say, the Sharps was the rifle widely used to kill off buffalo on the Great Plains in the 1870s.
The Sharps model rifle plays a role in a novel I’m finishing up—about our nation’s strange odyssey destroying then reestablishing the buffalo herds in the United States. Twenty three Plains bison were hauled by steamship to Alaska and set free at Delta in the late 20s. Today about 400 shaggy Alaskans roam the Delta Junction State Bison Range (90,000 acres).
The Sharps replica rifle that the seller peddled at the gun show had never killed a single buffalo. It was not historically genuine. Character had never seeped into this rifle’s wood stock or octagon barrel—from hard use.
Was this Sharps a 20-year-old fake? No, but it didn’t have the experience to be the real deal either. The gun maker took a shot at nostalgia and missed the mark, at least for me. It’s impossible to replicate an epoch of percussions and history in a firearm.
As with a genuine Shiloh Sharps, character is seeping into my “hickory and iron” too, while I absorb multiple percussions in life. Character is a complex of attributes that we gain through hard knocks. Character determines lifestyle—and lifestyle is the loud report that tells everyone why we make the choices that we do.
By submitting to the care of the Master Craftsman, Jesus, I can be secure that my tolerances will stay tight and sights true, after 50-plus years of challenging recoil and service.
I have set the Lord always before me;
Because he is at my right hand I shall not be moved.
You will show me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.