Boots. You don’t give them much thought. That is, until something changes, goes wrong or forces you to think about your footwear.
Boots have, for me, a long and inglorious connection to the shooting sports. They come to mind today only because I am breaking in a new pair. The thought of new boots triggered memories of old boots. At such times I often drift back into the mists of time, only to be pulled to reality by an authoritative voice asking, “Are you going to daydream all day or actually do some work?”
Luckily I was able to drift back in time and return with a great story before anyone noticed my absence.
I am a friend of Bill. Which, in this case, means nothing more than that I have a friend named Bill.
When I first met Bill Antonides, he was a game warden working in Brown County, South Dakota. This meant he had vast knowledge about all things related to hunting and fishing, but never had any time to actually hunt or fish.
He did, once, have plenty of time to write me a ticket for shooting a pintail when I should not have… that is another story and one that shows just how ethical he and I really are.
But I digress. This is about boots.
So here I am breaking in my new Blackhawk Warrior Wear ZW7 Waterproof Side-zip boots. These are stiff, strong, heavy-duty tactical boots that I will wear on duty with the sheriff’s department this summer. Right now, they feel good, but I imagine they will feel even better after I put about 20 miles on them. I thought about soaking my feet in a tub of water and walking the boots dry, but I wonder if that will really work with waterproof boots.
Still, you must be wondering how breaking in these boots is connected to guns and to Bill Antonides? Well, it has to do with something Bill once said, oddly enough, during one of the few times we hunted together.
There we were on the edge of a brushy shelter belt watching doves dart and dive around the grain stubble. Soon the little birds would be heading into the shelter belt to roost. This would give us a chance to show off our shotgunning skills and collect some dove breasts for my famous dove and mushroom hot dish.
A dove would appear, Bill would shoulder his trusty fowling piece and miss.
Dove. Miss. Miss. Miss.
It was like he was trying to hail a waitress at Denny’s.
Finally, I decided I needed to find out what was going on.
“Hey, Bill,” I said. “I haven’t seen a lot of doves falling from the sky.”
He muttered something about my national heritage and continued firing.
I decided to be more direct.
“What seems to be the problem?”
He looked me right in the eye and said, “It’s these new boots. I can’t hit anything until they are broke in. The stiff new leather seems to be inhibiting my swing and follow through.”
I had heard plenty of excuses, but this was a first—new boots inhibiting the swing and follow through?
But, by the way he was shooting, it had to be true. And that is why, even to this day, I never wear new boots to the shooting range.
You want to eliminate every variable when you are striving for accuracy.