"Then," he remembers, "in this fellow's place of business I noticed a rifle. I mentioned something or other about being able to hit a coin in the air. He didn't believe me. So I made him a wager—12 dozen of my tobacco against hitting that coin with his rifle. I hit it, and after that I had the ring in my hand."
From then on selling was no problem. Lucky just shot and bet his way into an extraordinary pile of orders. In gun-loving Georgia his sales record became fabulous. One skeptical prospect, C. D. Lane of Moultrie, bet his grocery store against Lucky's new Dodge that Lucky could not hit a quarter in the air. Lucky refused to carry away the store. Instead, Lane became a steady tobacco customer.
Lucky stumbled onto teaching. Four years ago, while selling tobacco in Valdosta, Georgia, he took time out to have a pistol repaired. In the shop he encountered Brooker Blanton, former University of Georgia football star who is owner of the Dixie Lakes Distributing Company. Lucky just happened to mention his shooting ability, in a way he has, and Blanton bridled at the thought of such nonsense being foisted on him. "He called me a liar, so to speak," says Lucky. They met at Blanton's home.
There Lucky performed his usual feats. Blanton demanded instruction.
"It's a God-given thing," Lucky said dubiously. "I don't know what I'm doing myself."
It took a little persuasion—Blanton offered to pay Lucky even if he flunked—and Lucky undertook the job. They started with a .22 rifle and Blanton shot 500 rounds without a smidgen of improvement.
It was getting a mite expensive. Lucky suggested they borrow a kid's air rifle and use BB shot.
That did it. It was late afternoon and the sun was shining behind their backs. They could see the shot emerge from the BB gun. They could follow its trajectory. Thereupon Blanton began to hit small objects tossed into the air.
The BB gun is now basic to McDaniel's teaching method. It is the pupil's first weapon. Before he can shoot it at anything Lucky insists that he be able to see the shot leave the gun. Seeing the shot, the pupil unconsciously notes his margin of error on a miss and, again unconsciously, corrects for it on his next shot.
This is so important that Lucky has designed, and Ross Baldwin has built, a BB gun with variable power, so that weak-eyed students can be helped to see a slow-moving pellet as it emerges from the barrel. The spring which propels the BB can be weakened or strengthened by turning a screw. The gun has, of course, no sights and the fore end of the barrel is even necked down in order to discourage any inclination to sight along the barrel. Its balance is very like that of a shotgun.