A Note From The Website Editor — About eight years ago, as a new member, one of the first people I met was Nick Panebianco. He was lucky enough to have retired with a comfortable pension and to have the time to visit the range any day he wanted. Meeting Nick at the range became part of my weekly routine. Until then, I’d been only a casual shooter, rarely venturing beyond the range benches. From Nick, I learned about something called Practical Shooting. This involved drawing a handgun from a holster (which is very cool), then charging downrange after cardboard and steel targets (which is, well…wheeeee!). I’d never worn or drawn a gun from a holster, or shot targets while moving, or done any of this with a timer running. It was a revelation. Nick enjoyed recounting his adventures of years past with the colorful characters that populated the shooting community. At his urging, I began helping with the club’s handgun matches, eventually even competing. It was a life-changing experience. I’d been around guns for decades, but hadn’t handled them as much, or become as comfortable with them as I am now. I read, listen, and watch anything I can find about guns, gun gear, gun gadgets, gun clothing, gun shops, gun travel, gun everything. I spend entirely too much time and money on it, and have transformed from gun owner to full-blown gun nut. I blame Nick for this.
Nick was also a shotgun and precision rifle fiend. But, he wasn’t only a gun guy. His cheerful tales ranged from his early years in Brooklyn, in New York City in the 1950’s, to growing-up in Hawthorne, California during the 1960’s. He fondly remembered his time at Hawthorne High School, as a “hodad“, so different from the “hip” surfer boys or wildly popular surf music idols like his classmates Brian Wilson and The Beach Boys. His adventures spanned his colorful (and sometimes nearly fatal) career as a union pipefitter, his foray into competitive martial arts, his succession of flashy cars, and his gleeful descent into the wilds of Wall Street investing.
I’ll miss hearing about Nick’s home gunsmithing disasters, misadventures with his old shooting cronies, or his latest stock market triumphs. When Nick died suddenly, a few weeks ago, he left a big hole in my life. Still, I’m so much better off, even knowing him for such a brief time.