Airgun issues: Winning over a spouse

Jim Old wrestles with the age-old problem of airgun ownership – how to win over an unsympathetic other half.

My love for my new gun is a love that dare not speak its name. At least not at home where I’m basically forbidden from talking about it. Apparently this was in the verbal contract that my wife and I drew up when she finally allowed me to go ahead with the purchase.

I’d gently floated the idea of buying an air rifle a few times over the preceding weeks. On each occasion she’d greeted the prospect with undisguised horror. To be fair, Sarah’s a city girl who grew up in an entirely gun-free environment.

There’s no distinction in her mind between a legal-limit air rifle and a sawn-off shotgun; or an anti-tank missile. The idea of keeping a gun, any gun, in the terraced house we share with our children in London is completely foreign to her.

In the end, and completely unexpectedly, our wedding anniversary rode to my rescue. A few days beforehand she said: “You know our anniversary? Well, I haven’t actually got you a present.”

“Haven’t you, love?” I responded, smugly. “I’ve bought you something rather nice.”

“You have? Oh no. And you’re so difficult to buy for.”

“Actually you don’t have to buy anything. All I want is your permission to keep an airgun in the house.”

She was shocked and protested – but she was also trying not to laugh. Ultimately, I think it was the death of romance that bothered her more than the idea of me keeping a gun. She reluctantly gave her consent.

Then followed the conversation about where the rifle would be kept. It went something like this.

Me: It’ll have to go under our bed.

Her: I’m not sleeping over a gun!

Okay, under the guest bed then. We can’t make our visitors sleep on top of a gun! Right, it’ll have to live under our bed. There is literally nowhere else. But what if the cleaner sees it? We don’t have a cleaner. We might do, one day.

Despite our differences, we were very much of one mind on the undesirability of our 12-year-old son getting hold of the rifle and using it to settle a row with his sister. We agreed it would be kept in a hard case, secured with padlocks.

Additional security precautions would include a trigger lock and not telling the kids that it’s there. This last measure has worked surprisingly well and, as I write, the children are still oblivious to the gun’s presence. At least, I think they are.

Keeping them in the dark has spawned an interesting new euphemism. Last week, Sarah asked me how I’d spent my day off and I told her that I’d passed the afternoon on the airgun range.

“You mean, riding your pony,” she said.

“I’m sorry, what?”

“Riding your pony. It’s my new term for that thing you do, you know… at the… place…”

So now I can’t even say I’ve been shooting my rifle at the range. You’ll spot the flaw in this plan if I tell you that I don’t own a pony, and when the kids hear that I’ve been riding one it’s going to prompt an avalanche of difficult-to-answer questions.

There are no questions from Sarah. She’s made it clear she has zero interest in hearing about my shooting. I want to tell her that I’m finding it amazingly calming, almost meditative.

But that door is closed, at least for now. I’m pretty sure that if I could coax her (or trick her) into coming with me and giving it a try herself then her attitude might change. Watch this space.

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