So here I am. I’m sitting in a well furnished kitchen: stainless steel griddle, two burners, oven and hood, stainless steel energy efficient refrigerator, stainless steel sink and faucet. This kitchen was made for disassembling large quantities of meat. All this kitchen truly needs is to be slightly refrigerated, hooks hanging from the ceiling, with a drain in the center. This is Ryan Griffin’s meat locker. Griffin is twenty-three and lives comfortably in an apartment owned by his mother in Newport Beach. He grew up in West Los Angeles and attended Pacific Palisades Charter High School where he met Austin Rogers. They hit it off then and now they live together in this Newport Crest three bed two bath. Griffin just recently got Rogers to go hunting with him this past weekend. Rogers dug it.
Apparently there are two kinds of hunting. Hunting where you hunt to hunt, like bird calls and camouflage. And then there is going to the desert, drinking some beers, and shooting at some dusty hills. Griffin and Rogers chose the latter for this particular hunting trip. They went off-roading, explored some mines, printed out 8.5 by 11 pictures of their own heads posted them to a hill and shot at them. They traveled a healthy three and a half hours from their abode, out past Edwards Air Force Base. This place lies in the middle of the Mojave and it’s called California City. And on this trip all they needed to pack was at least a twelver each, guns, PB and J, dirt bikes, and plenty of shit to light on fire. And this time they were looking for the Chukar. Is a bird from the pheasant family, which is indigenous to the area. They often reside in open, hilly, dry regions, which is just the ticket for these two boys. According to Griffin it’s an “elusive bird to hunt.” Griffin also likes to hunt coyote in Palmdale and pig in Tejon Ranch. For pig, Griffin has a tag for. This meaning that he took a little course on gun safety and awareness and then paid fifteen bucks to get a sticker on the back of his hunting license. He can kill a certain amount of pigs while they’re in season. After telling me how much air they caught going over this ditch and what kind of guns they brought with them they start talking about the many hypothetical situations that they would be prepared for just by having all this ammunition. “If fools are looting Newps and Albertson’s is a fucking warzone. Eight bullets, blank stripper clip. I’m loading that 22 and mowing people down.”
This kind of sport is different than others for many obvious reasons. But let us consider a few in particular. Hunting, and sports like it, takes very little physicality. The mental game is what tends to be the most appealing to those that participate. Hunting doesn’t require its participants to be 6’ 8” or 300 pounds. In fact, it requires very little from its participants in the physical arena. What it does require is an enormous amount of equipment. If you’re going to hunt to hunt, you need loads of equipment that’s not cheap. This also seems to be another defining characteristic to sports like these. Sailing, not known for being a physical sport, requires a ton of expensive equipment. Golf, another less than physical sport requiring a whole bag of costly clubs. Griffin could go on and on about the expanse of guns he personally owns and the intricacies of each one. This is where the mental part comes in.
A gun comparable to the Russian SKS is the 1022. When describing his first encounter with this particular gun, Rogers remembers, “You felt like you were kicking some ass.” And for Griffin it feels like “you could just merc fools off.” But, tonight he’s also on an educational kick. He teaches me about rifling, how it creates spin for the bullet and a place for the air to go as the bullet is shot out of the gun. Sniper guns, with their particular rifiling, have a tight spin for accuracy. With less spin the accuracy of the bullet decreases. “It’s like a knuckle ball versus a fast ball,” Griffin relates for me. I learn about the difference between the Remington and the Mossberg and how a bullet actually works. The Magnum really does have more power. And this is what his father taught him and what his father taught him.
This is the difference. Yes, football and baseball and basketball can all be handed down from generation to generation. And there is some serious pressure there. However, no father can truly compete with his son on the same playing field. Dad is sidelined. This is where living vicariously started. There are severe generational boundaries involved with things like football. The shear physicality creates a line that Dad cannot cross. Sports like hunting and sailing are slow, still competitive, but slow. This is why dear old Dad and son cannot only compete together on the same team, but against each other as well. And here, they are actually on the same playing field. Here there aren’t really such defined generational boundaries. The best of the best aren’t the best because they have brute force or have aerodynamics on their side. They are there because of the mental game. They have had time to play and master this mental game. And more often than not, the old farts are better than the young bucks.
Griffin and Rogers end the night with two bowls of Kashi GoLean Crunch and busting out a Ruger 357 and a 12 gage shot gun. He places the 357 in my hand. My hand, with the gun, hits the table and my wine glass, spilling the Cabernet. Griffin encourages me to cock and shoot the unloaded gun. This was my first encounter with any sort of gun. The weight was disturbing along with the release. So much power in one hand. And then the shot gun. The sound of cocking a shotgun is one that will ring in my ears for a while. I can’t imagine what firing one of those would sound like. This was what was handed down from his father and will probably be something he passes to his son as well.
With these kinds of sports, its not just things we read about them or competitions we watch that make them popular. It’s more personal. These sports are popular because they are passed from parent to offspring. And this is what is so critical to the sport. It’s not just passing it on, it is participating in the sport together. This is what gives it strength. Whether it’s holding a gun for the first time or making a first touchdown, generational connectedness is what makes sports so personal. It’s connected through family and friends. Creating these connections are what make sports so personally important to us. And it’s what will continue our fascination with sport.