My dad and I would go to the Monroe Rifle and Pistol Club almost every other weekend throughout spring and summer. It started when I was in my mid-20s on a random whim, i.e. he called and said "I'm going to the gun range, want to go?" At that point I had little interest in firearms but figured what the hell, I'll go, otherwise I'd just be sitting around my Detroit house all day.
Needless to say I had a blast. Over the years my interest in firearms grew from pistols to rifles to reloading to acquiring NFA tax stamps. I always knew my dad was proud when he could see my knowledge on the topic starting to exceed his own, and he would routinely ask for "good 30-06 reloads" for his birthday, Father's Day, Christmas, etc. I was more than happy to obligate, and enjoyed watching him hit the bullseye with his M1 Garand.
As my kids went from babies to toddlers, the routine changed a bit: I'd drive to my parents' house, drop off the kids with my mom, and then my dad and I would escape for a few hours and head out to the range. It was a win-win for everyone: my wife and I would get a break, my dad would get a free trip to the range since I'd usually drive, and my mom would get to spend the entire afternoon with her grandkids. We kept up that routine for a while.
My dad passed away unexpectedly on January 30, 2020. After the shock subsided, I reached out to the gentleman in charge of the Monroe Rifle and Pistol Club, and asked about getting the membership transferred to my name. Steve happily obliged and let me know that everyone at the range loved talking with my dad when he'd shoot on their pistol league. More than anything, I wanted the future version of my children to be able to spend time with me there, just like I'd spent with my dad. My memories of bonding with my dad always go back to those Sundays in the summer and spring that we'd get to spend together at the range.
Today was the first time I'd been back to the MRPC since my dad passed away. I kept expecting to see my dad walking around the corner or sitting at his usual place on the bench. Every time I'd hear the gravel crunch in the parking lot, I'd turn around because I expected him to be standing there. On the drive I realized that last summer was truly the last time we'd be there together.
Miss you dad, it's not the same without you.