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Back from the California Desert and the DSO

January 29, 2012

I was in the desert with 250 men and boys.  The event was a church-sponsored father-son retreat called the Desert Shoot Out, or DSO.  I’m struggling for words as I try to share what I saw and felt.  I’d need to take pictures each minute to capture the memorable events.

I wish you’d seen fathers and sons playing together.   I wish you’d seen them working and laughing together.
I wish you’d seen capable men taking care of themselves, setting up their camp, and then helping others.
I wish you’d seen many hands make light work.  They moved tons of gear into the desert as kitchen, generators, lights, tables, and tents.  They also set up a firing line of targets.  I heard they brought 13 thousand clay pigeons for sporting clay competition.  They even brought extra sleeping bags and pads if a friend dropped in unprepared.  We were well cared for.
I wish you’d seen shot in mid-flight.  Yes, you can see the cloud of shotgun pellets fly out to the clay target when you shoot sporting clays at night.  Yes, there were high intensity work lights.  You can fall asleep to the sound of shotgun blasts.  They must have turned off the generators at some time.
I wish you’d heard the silence of the desert at night.  I wish you’d seen the breathtaking beauty of a dark sky full of stars.
I wish you had the pleasure of a desert sunrise when you can see to the horizon.  They had hot water and coffee waiting for us.  We were well cared for.
I wish you’d seen men having energetic fun and making it look easy.  The twenty-year-olds are graceful and precise with their shotgun games.  The old guys with their large revolvers are impressively fast, and they win the bowling pin competition year after year.  Video.
I wish you’d seen the curiosity and amazement of 14 year-olds.  They were challenged by the precision of 22 rifle and 22 pistol.

They were challenged by the firepower of Old Mosin-Nagant rifles (Video) and 45 caliber pistols.  The boys advanced at their own pace.  “Awesome,” was their frequent reaction.

I wish you’d seen the silent sport of archery.  It is basic and beautiful in its simplicity.
I wish you’d seen men sharing their enthusiasm and passion.  If you stopped and asked a question, the frequent answer was, “Come on. It’s easier to show you. Let’s go shoot it.”
I wish you’d seen strong men of faith in control of themselves.  I want you to see “great men serving a greater master.”
I wish you’d heard dads discuss how to remain involved with their families, and how to shape their children’s character in the face of violent video games and airsoft toys.  How do we change guns from fantasy toys to serious tools that have to be handled responsibly?  I noticed that trained adults would seldom point a finger at someone because their old habits had been overwritten by new prohibitions.
I wish you’d seen the desert change.  There are endless mixtures of sun, sand, heat and wind.

Build an event like this if it doesn’t exist in your area.  Take your family.  You will all learn from each other.  You will remember what you saw and what you did far after you’ve forgotten what you heard.

Today I shook the sand out of my life.  Tonight I’ll again sleep again in the comfort of my own bed.


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One Comment leave one →
  1. Victor Vazquez permalink
    February 2, 2012 7:20 am


    I like your post on the DSO. You are right, it is hard to put into words the unique experience we shared there.


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