Following Otis's Lead
Otis posted a neat story yesterday and it seemed that those that read it enjoyed doing so. I would like to post one of my favorite storys too. To me the point in the story, one way or another has to do with what this forum is about and that is our attempt to do the best that we can with our tools and skills. Hope that you enjoy it.
Back in the nineteenth century there was a well known rifle
barrel maker by the name of Harry Pope. At that time
any serious target shooter would not consider using a
barrel that was not made by Pope. Pope lived in New
York City and worked out of a small shop by himself.
As the story goes, there was a young man that lived
many miles away from Pope's shop. I don't know the young
man's name, but he aspired to be a gun smith and barrel
maker and decided one day to move to New York and work
So he gathered his meager belongings and moved to the
City. He arrived on a Sunday afternoon, and located
Harry's shop which was of course closed at the time. He
found an apartment in which to live, got settled in and
arrived at Pope's shop early Monday morning and introduced
He told Harry why he had moved to New York and that he
wanted to apprentice under the old man. But Pope explained
to him that he was in no way prepared or interested in
having an apprentice.
Of course the young man was disappointed and told Harry that
the reason that he wanted to work with Harry was to learn
lhis secret as to why his rifle barrels were so superior
to any others. Harry still was adement that he was not
interested in what the young man wanted to do.
So, since the young man had decided to just stay in the City anyway,
each day he would show up at Pope's shop and just hand around.
In time Pope warmed up to the young man but did not change his
mind about taking on an apprentice.
Finally one day Pope asked the boy if he knew how to "file" and
the boy told Harry that he could, and so Harry asked him to make a
part for him for a gun that he was working on for one of his
customers, The boy did the job and did it well, not much was
said, Pope used the part and went on with his business.
Then one day a well known competitor arrived at the shop and
placed an order for a new rifle barrel for a match that was coming
in several weeks later.
Then, a few days later Pope did not show up at his shop and the
boy did some checking and learned that Harry was very ill and
he remained so for a few weeks. Time for the delivery of the
customer's new barrel was starting to run out.
The boy began to worry about the customer's new barrel and finally
one day while Harry was still home sick in bed, hw took the blank
from the rack and put it in the machine thar is used to cut the
rifling in the bore. He spent a lot of time with the set up and
re-checked the set up several times until he was certain that the
set up was a good as he could get it. It had taken more time
than it should have but he wanted it to be perfect. Finally it was
time to make the first cut which he did with the most care that he
could take, he took his time, almost holding his breath in his
attempt to it right. After completing the first cut he sat down
and comptemplated what he had done until he got the courage to
to make the next cut. This went on for a coupld of days, the
boy took his time and kept checking his work, and one day the all of
grooves were cut.
The boy cleaned the barrel up and put it back in the rack. A few days
Pope was well enough to get back to work and in another day or so
the customer arrived to pick up his new barrel, but the day prior
to the customer's arrival, Harry had taken the barrel out of the rack
and had inspected the boy's work visually without saying anything.
He then took the barrel in the back room where he had a test range set
up and test gun that he put the barrel into and began to shoot the
test gun with the new barrel installed. The boy remained out in the
front of the shot and listened to Harry's test shooting. During this
time the boy was very nerveous wondering what Harry was going to say
and what was going to happen, after all the customer was due to pick
the barrel up any day.
After some time, Harry came out of the back room and put the barrel
back in the rack with out saying anything. The next day the customer
came in to get the barrel, Harry gave it to him with no comment other
than to wish him well at the up coming match.
Finally Harry began to talk to the young man, and in the conversation he
told the boy, you asked about my secret and I told you that there is no
secret, it's just a matter of my doing the very best work that I can
possibly do with every step in the process, that's all I do and you have
appartently followed that line of thinking and so, if there is a secret,
you found it on your own. The barrel work was done as well as I could
have done it, you took your time and and did your best, it's just that
Last edited by Jerry Bowen; 10-19-2014 at 06:10 PM.