In 1988 Wil was 16 years of age and he lived in a rural community in SE Ohio. In the summers he spent a lot of time with his father. His father was a gunsmith and over the years had amassed quite a collection. He was also a lifelong member of the NRA. So during the summers it was common to hike around the farm target shooting or hunting.
Wil had access to all of his fathers collection. A multitude of various Shotguns, high powered rifles including a 500 Weatherby magnum, pistols, even some old military guns. These were the most interesting to him. A Japanese Arikasa from WWII complete with the royal chrysanthemum seal, German Mausers too but his favorite of these old military rifles was the British Lee-Enfield 303. His father had picked up several boxes of armored piecing rounds for it at a garage sale.
The Lee-Enfield had a long history of enforcing colonialism on a large part of the world. Wil noticed in every movie with British troops they carried that gun. From battling the Boers in Africa to the present war in Afganistan. This gun saw action in every conflict on every continent from 1895 to today. Once Wil's father even showed him a picture of the 21 gun salute the British gave the Red Barron immediately after he was shot down. Seven British soldiers lined up holding their Lee-Enfields aloft. He loved the history of these guns.
Even when his father was away Wil knew the bars in the window of the gun shop were never fully installed so he could slide passed them and get into the shop anytime he wanted. He did many times too. Some days he would go in and take a shotgun, go into the woods and fire boxes and boxes of rounds. He would line up cans and practice for hours but what was especially enjoyable was the row of old junk cars along the pond road. He ambushed all manner of bad guys making there get-aways over the summers. His father never seemed to noticed. Wil sure noticed though. On those days he would go to sleep with his ears ringing so loudly it was difficult to sleep.
His father had so much gunpowder stockpiled that Wil could make off with an entire keg of gunpowder. He would build plastic model cars and fill them with powder and detonate them. This is how he learned the difference between black powder and smokeless. Black powder was far more exciting for his purposes. Black powder would explode in a flash and a great ball of smoke whereas smokeless when unconstrained would just burn quickly but not explode.
Out of the many gun's Wil's favorite to shoot was a semi automatic 22 caliber that looked just like an AR-15. It was a nice addition to his imagination. When Wil and his father were out shooting cans and bottles it was a joy he would never forget.
Once when Wil and his father were in the gunshop tinkering. His father was bent over a vice putting the finishing touches on a gun stalk he had whittled out of an old walnut stump he salvaged from the abandoned lumberyard, Wil had the bright idea to build a cannon.
He took a paint can filled with concrete and put a three foot piece of conduit pipe in it at a 60 degree angle pointing into the air. His father watched him put it together but later he admitted he thought it was for weight lifting but couldn't figure out why it was angled. Later that evening when Wil touched it off he learned about the tensile strength of conduit pipe and almost lost his... well everything when it exploded.
On another day he and his father were tinkering and talking about current events. In the mid eighties the big story in the news was the right to own an military assault rifle. Wil loved the idea. He told his father when he was older he would own a real AR-15. That's when his father reacted unexpectedly. His father answered him by saying, ''What in the hell do you need a gun like that for? No one hunts with a gun like that. And its not got any story worth collecting. Every year the god damned NRA jacks up my dues... and for what so they can waste our money fighting for those worthless assault rifles that no one needs? I didn't tell you this but I was so angry the other day after reading an article in the American Rifleman from that fool LaPierre that I immediately called the NRA and canceled my membership!''
Wil couldn't believe his ears. The NRA was a family institution. He asked his father if he was serious and his father said, ''yes you're god damn right I did! Those military assault rifles are only good for one thing, and that one thing I wont be a part of!''
In the few years following this statement Wil's father had sold almost every gun from his collection but the old military rifles that he promised to Wil and quit the gunsmith business forever.