Everyone knows R. Lee Ermey. If you haven’t seen him in one of his many movie roles, usually playing a military man, police officer or other authority figure—most famously as Gunnery Sergeant Hartman in the 1987 Stanley Kubrick classic Full Metal Jacket—you’ve probably seen him on TV commercials and military history shows. Your kids have likely heard his voice in multiple cartoons and video games.
Ermey earned his stripes in the U.S. Marine Corps and served in Vietnam. Since then he has remained active, supporting vet organizations and visiting troops. He is also an extremely active member of the NRA’s Board of Directors, often speaking out on Second Amendment issues. A lifelong hunter and shooter, RF recently caught up with him at the Civilian Marksmanship Program National Rifle Matches at Camp Perry, Ohio, where he competes using vintage rifles.
MY FIRST GUN: It was a Daisy Red Ryder BB gun, and right after that I progressed to a .22 bolt-action rifle. The Daisy was a Christmas gift when I was seven years old, and Santa also brought me the .22 rifle the following year. I hunted a lot growing up in Kansas, and we had a lot of squirrels, too many squirrels and rabbits, and I was helping to cull the population. I got my use out of those guns, and they were pretty worn out by the time I was done with them.
IF I ONLY HAD ONE: There is no question: it would be a .30-06 bolt-action rifle. Plain and simple. You can hunt any animal in North America with a .30-06. It’s the most versatile round that there is in existence as far as I’m concerned.
MY MENTOR, LESSONS: The Marine Corps is the place I really received proper leadership and guidance at MCRD San Diego, from those three drill instructors, Sergeant Freestone, Gunnery Sergeant Spottenberg and Sergeant Devorak. Those guys were life-changers, and any young man who goes through Marine Corps training could tell you the same thing. The Marine Corps has been a larger part of my life, even more than my family, and I owe the Corps a tremendous amount.