This is what happens when targets attack. My sporting clays gun was sitting in a rack while I stood next to it waiting my turn to shoot yesterday and a large chunk of a broken incomer ricocheted off the forearm. Besides being a good reminder of why we should wear protective glasses, this ding is an illustration of what I would consider an honorable scar. (It doesn’t look this bad now that I have brushed the clay dust out of the checkering, some of which is now very flat).


Such scars usually occur in the field, not on the clays course. Nevertheless, this one qualifies. It always will remind of a day when I shot with strangers who are now friends at a charity event for a good cause. It doesn’t hurt that I picked up my freshly dinged gun and ran the station, either.

The bad kind of scratches are the ones that result from your own carelessness, like the nicks you put in gunstocks taking them in and out of a gunsafe, or the gouges in my grouse gun from the time I learned once and for all you don’t lean guns against the side of a car, especially not in a gravel parking lot.

However, if you use your guns, they are going to get scratched and some of those scratches remind you of good days afield. I own one gun with a claw mark on it from my now-departed setter, Ike, and its checkering is stained with pheasant blood from a bird he pointed. Scars like those I don’t mind at all.