Turtle Island Preserve Gun Maintenance Lesson

Turtle Island Preserve Gun Maintenance Lesson

Eustace Conway's Turtle Island Preserve is staffed by interns, who enter a contract and work for 14 months in return for teachings and experiences in the natural ways of doing things. One of TIP's current interns is Brian from Connecticut. Besides being adept at nearly everything mechanical, he is a gunsmith.


Eustace has established a system of giving and receiving lessons on every subject under the sun. A person may be a teacher one day on how to erect a teepee, and the next day the same person may be a student on how to sharpen an axe. On Wednesday, April 16, 2014, I went to TIP and got a gun maintenance lesson from Brian.

Everything at TIP is outdoors. Even if it is under a roof or in a building, none of the buildings are sealed from the outdoors and few are heated. So, the weather always makes a difference. Today was sunny and clear, but chilly going on cold. Even though it is mid-April and many spring flowers are in bloom, there was a cold snap last night and frost was on the ground.

I took my guns to use in the demonstration. Sitting at a solid oak, home-made picnic table under the porch roof at the classroom building, between the horse barn and the kitchen, Brian showed me and Gabe, another intern, how to clean and maintain rifles, shotguns, semi-auto pistols and revolvers. I came away with a new understanding of how guns work, and an appreciation for what keeps guns in good working order.

Brian also gave me some homework. I had cobbled together my gun cleaning kit over the years with parts from many forgotten sources. He instructed me on the cleaning components that I still need and sent me home with instructions to go to Wal-Mart and Cabelas to acquire the parts. I arrived at my house to a beautiful yard full of pink and white dogwoods and red azaleas.

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Bob Laney

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Bob is the site curator and writer of Blue Ridge Outing. Since starting the Blue Ridge Outing travel blog in 2002, Bob has written, recorded and documented countless expeditions in the US and around the world.