Back when I grew up, we played with dangerous things. Amazingly, most of us survived those days...even without crash helmets! I probably wasn’t more than eight or nine years old, when I got my first pocket knife. I’ll be the first to admit, that was probably too young, but I still have all ten digits and only cut myself badly once, that I can remember. Even then, I didn’t bleed to death or even have to get stitches. Back then, especially in the country, if a boy reached his teenage years and didn’t have his own pocket knife, people viewed him with suspicious eyes. Some even spoke poorly of him. Honestly, my first knife was a piece of junk, but within a year or so, I had traded up for a pretty little yellow-handled two-bladed Queen...from a grown man, but that’s another story for another time.

Not long after the “knife-age,” we had guns. Now before you get all wound up, the first ones weren’t real. As a matter of fact, my first gun-and-holster set came before that first pocket knife. My hips were not big enough to hold up my holsters and keep them from sliding down my legs before I could quick draw on some imaginary bad guy. Marshall Dillion and Roy Rogers would have been so disappointed, especially since some of my equipment had their names written on it. I tied the ends of my holsters around my legs with a piece of string, so they would stay in place during my blinding-speed fast draws. Maybe I should have used some of that string to tie the top of my holsters to my belt know, so they wouldn’t slide down. For a while, I got a new set every Christmas or two, because I had worn out the one from the year before.

One of those early cap-gun sets caused my first skepticism about the big guy in the red suit. Before Christmas, I spied a holster set hidden in the bottom of Mama’s chifforobe. You do know what a chifforobe is, don’t you? Don’t worry about why I was plundered in there, in the first place. The confusion, followed by suspicion, came when Santa brought me a holster set that was identical to the one I had spotted in there. I never said a word, so let’s just keep this between us. At sixteen, I was probably too old to still believe, or to still be playing with cap guns. You do know I’m kidding, but just in case, let’s keep that between us too!

For a long time, I was a bit confused about something. No matter how well I took aim at my buddy Ronald, or one of my cousins, they usually shouted, “You missed me!” They could be two-feet in front of me, but according to them, I still missed, no matter how well I aimed. I’ve come to realize that this was because I was shooting a cap gun. Cap guns make a lot of noise, but that’s as far as it goes.

As we enter into this new year, I hope you have set some goals to aim at hitting. The late Zig Ziglar said, “If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.” No matter how young or old we may be, we need to have goals. In order to hit those goals, we have to take aim. We also have to be sure we aren’t simply firing cap guns, which have no capability of hitting anything. May 2021, be a year when we take aim at some worthy goals and at least hit some of them.

— Bill King is a native of Rainsville, where he and his wife graduated from Plainview High School. King is a director of missions in Opelika, a writer, musician and author. His column appears in the Times-Journal weekend edition. Visit for more information.

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