Monday, July 23, 2007

Find a range to test!

Time passes from 2003 to 2007. 2nd Amendment successes highlighted in the news piques my interests again, and I am reminded how I’ve procrastinated. I start researching firearms online more thoroughly. Mainly I am looking for a range to do some shooting and perhaps get some instruction to get better. I also have deer hunting at the back of my mind. I find blogs like Alphecca, and Jeff Cooper’s Commentaries archives, and Armed Canadian, and Ten Ring and read every word.

My buddy, MBtGE, and I had a construction project for a camp trailer. He had recently moved farther out in Virginia. I suggest we go pistol shooting after we kick off working and start chatting guns because of all the reading I’ve done lately. He is, after all, a gun enthusiast and has done a bit of hunting, having grown up in rural upstate New York. He says he found a new gun store that is pretty neat and has a hundred yard gun range. I tell him I don’t want to shoot that far with a .357, and he drops casually into conversation, “No, that part of the range is the rifle section…”

BING! BING! BING! We have a winner.

MBtGE had no idea I was looking for a rifle area. He starts talking up this place called
Clark Brothers. They have an in-house gunsmith so I decide I’d take both rifles on our second trip out there. But this time we just take some of his long guns. He has a Ruger Mini-14s (.223 caliber), with a red-dot scope, a Ruger 10/22 (.22 Long Rifle) and his .308 hunting rifle with a scope, among others.

The way Clark Bros. works is, you don’t have to pay to shoot there, but you do have to buy your ammo there. Fair enough. And their ammo is not that much more expensive than Wal-Mart or Bass Pro Shop. I don’t begrudge them at all, that policy.

Yay. It’s a lot fun. And I can already self-critique myself. I am rushing the trigger and jerking it. I can see the cross hairs drift over the target and I want to nail it when it is near the bull, so I rush the pull. Despite this, I puzzle out, if I am shooting at a deer at 100 yards I have a decent size kill zone. I don’t have to hit the bull, I have to hit a circle about as big as the circle in the paper target. So if I get in the circle every time, excellent. When I start doing that, THEN I’ll concentrate on getting into a smaller circle. I concentrate on improving that trigger squeeze and patience now. Reading up on shooting after that first session confirms this theory. I learn about the “surprise break.” Squeeze the trigger in such a way that you are doing it so patiently and smoothly so that when it does fire it is a surprise and you don’t flinch, and that works if the site is drifting but still in the zone. I also learn that you must focus on the front site, not the rear or the target. Apparently this was instinctive to me when using iron sights (like on my revolver) so I don’t have to fix a bad habit I already have.

On my next trip my thought is to get the Springfield double checked on headspace and see the feasibility of attaching a scope. I want a scoped rifle to go deer hunting with MBtGE. Plus for fun target shooting. I take the rifle into Clark Brothers and ask the gunsmith. He takes a look at my ’03 and begs me not to put a scope on. He tells me I can pay him $200 to convert a $1200 rifle into a $400 rifle, and that my rifle is one of the best of its kind he’s seen in a long while. I know that plea. I like old woodworking tools and I’ve heard similar plaintative appeals over a classic piece of prewar industrial engineering that is a beauty in itself. But the headspace is good, he says. A little tight when I throw the bolt forward onto a cartridge, but in spec. Better too tight than too loose. And it wouldn't hurt the gun to shoot it. Great! I shoot it. Not so great. It pulls way to the left. 3 feet at 100 yards. I didn’t buy enough ammo at that time to properly zero it. Since I am not scoping it at this point, and it isn’t going to be my go-to rifle, I decide to worry about fixing it later. I am sure it is a sight adjustment problem attributable to user error, aka: Me. A good session working out it’s kinks and I bet I can get it shooting better than I can shoot it. I have no time this session because… I also brought the Garand along…


BobG said...

If you need info on guns, one of the best places to go is View from the Porch; Tamara is very knowledgeable, and has a lot of readers commenting that are likewise well-versed in various firearms. Good luck; and have fun target shooting.

BobG said...

Whoops, missed the link.
Tamara's is here.

Tam said...

"He takes a look at my ’03 and begs me not to put a scope on. He tells me I can pay him $200 to convert a $1200 rifle into a $400 rifle, and that my rifle is one of the best of its kind he’s seen in a long while. I know that plea."

Seriously, nice original '03s are getting scarce because so many of them got chopped & scoped (or "Bubba-ized", as the term goes) in the '50s and '60s. For the cost of scoping that rifle and doing a trigger job on it, you could buy a used Savage 110 in .30-'06 that already has a scope and a better trigger that will be lighter to carry in the deer woods, and will shoot rings around that Springfield.

Chopping a classic '03 in this day and age would be like making a hatband out of the ribbon from a Navy Cross. Sure, you might get more use out of it, but it borders on sacreligious.