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... and just like that, he put down his fishing rod and picked up a gun instead.

Hello all, this is Capt. Cayle. Wait a minute; that name’s familiar. Yes, you’ve been reading my fishing columns in WaterLine for nearly the past decade. And now I’m doing a gun and shooting column. My writing career has followed my real career, as I have transitioned from a full-time guide to a part-time guide and full-time worker at Higher Power Outfitters, Punta Gorda’s only gun shop. There, I sell guns and am also a gunsmith. One passion to another.

Now, I have to admit that I was fish columned out. I was writing one column a month for almost 10 years and that can get pretty stagnant. How many different ways can you tell the same story? But this is going to be a little more work as our slave-driver editor now wants bi-weekly columns. At least the information is fresh to me.

Most of you knew my story as a fishing guide and my passion for fishing. Here comes the shooting sports side:

I grew up in northwestern Pennsylvania. The Allegheny National Forest was my backyard. Shooting sports and hunting were very popular there, just like fishing. My classmates either got into fishing and hunting or drugs and alcohol. I got lucky. My father’s idea of babysitting was giving me and my little brother each a brick of .22 ammo and a garbage can full of empty aluminum cans. What more could you ask for?

I hunted for every species Pennsylvania had to offer back then. Squirrel, grouse, turkey, deer and bear were the popular ones. Heck, we even got the first day of deer season off from school. When people say deer season is a holiday, they aren’t kidding. Some of my fondest memories from my childhood are based around woods or water.

After high school, I joined the Marine Corps. That’s a gun-lovers dream. Until it’s time to clean them, at least. Honing my marksman skills through my childhood paid off. I left the Marine Corps a 5th Award Rifle Expert. At my last duty station, I shot skeet competitively. On my final deployment I was our platoon armorer, taking care of the crew-served weapons on our vehicle — the M2 .50-cal machine gun and the Mk 19 grenade launcher.

As fishing has followed me through my entire life, so has shooting. So it was an easy switch when the red tide hit us hard to step into a gun shop. My intentions were for it to be part-time so I could continue with my guiding. Well, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Shortly after I started, Higher Power was awarded a Remington authorized repair center contract. Shortly after that, Remington recalled 7.5 million triggers. What was supposed to be part-time quickly became full-time. And now we’ve continued to grow the store, and have added Wet Dreams Customs (company that does Cerakoting) to our roster. They work out of our shop now. So we are a well-rounded shop that offers sales of new, used and consignment firearms, gunsmithing, and custom Cerakoting.

This is just an introduction piece. Future columns will be more informational. I already have a few columns floating around in my head. The next one will be safety, as it’s the most important. Then we’ll touch on why there is an ammo shortage and why there is a firearm shortage, because those things are happening now.

From there, I’d like to get into items new on the market, and you’ll more than likely see a few opinion pieces when it comes to firearm models and calibers. I’ve never been one afraid to speak my mind.

Capt. Cayle Wills is a salesman and gunsmith at Higher Power Outfitters (1826 Tamiami Trail, Punta Gorda). Contact him at 941-916-4538 or Cayle@HigherPowerOutfitters.com.

Capt. Cayle Wills is a salesman and gunsmith at Higher Power Outfitters (1826 Tamiami Trail, Punta Gorda). Contact him at 941-916-4538 or Cayle@HigherPowerOutfitters.com.

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