Last Saturday I returned to the range with ‘L’. There was a time when we hit the firing line every Sunday. It was great to refresh those memories. Shooting is a perishable skill—and I don’t just mean the act of putting rounds on target. Cleaning firearms, keeping track of the myriad little details that give each gun its character, loading, and resetting after a shot are easy to recall but often difficult to do if you’ve let practice slip. There’s an old saying “beware of the man with one gun because he probably knows how to use it.” My corollary is the man with full gun cabinet needs to practice more—and man, does that apply to me.
There was a time when I sold a couple of my boomsticks every six months to raise funds for my newest gun-related obsession. I didn’t get a lot of time to break in purchases before they were banished to the consignment case. As of now I only have one gun, my .22 anschutz 1400 that is on the block and that beauty is waiting for a friend to put together the resources to purchase and safely store it. So the good news is that since I haven’t been turning over my inventory I’ve been able to focus on a couple of key pieces.
I started off the session with 50 rounds of 9 pellet 00 buck through my Benelli Super Nova Tactical. I spent a lot of time working on picking up the gun from the station and presenting it true to target. After that I moved on to dealing with my “dropping.” There are two common reactions to firing big guns. The first is flinching where the shooter closes their eyes and involuntarily pulls the gun off target in fear of the slap and bang from the coming shot. The second is dropping, where the shooter preemptively compensates for the muzzle rise. The results are similar but come from very different impulses. I drop especially at the beginning of a session until my muscles warm up and I stop over-thinking shots. It took a 25 round box for me to calm down and start nailing center mass.
By the end of the second box I could feel my body paying more attention even while it was tiring out. Holding a 7 pound scatter gun for prolonged periods, working the slide with my short arms, and focusing on each shot takes a lot of energy. I am much stronger than our first range trips; so the physical side of the process is easier. The extended lapse in quality practice time has seen a decline in my fine muscle adjustment and focus though. The result is that getting on target is mentally exhausting. We had one bad moment when ‘L’ bumped the Nova off the bench and it fell muzzle down onto the concrete floor. I buy most of my guns with durability in mind; so it looks like I got away with a few scratches to the finish around the muzzle. It was annoying; but fortunately I intended to have the barrel refinished anyway. That experience reminded me that I am going to have to fish or cut bait soon on some of my projects. The cost of supplying a regular shooting habit is considerable—as is upgrading most firearms with qualified professionals. The two options aren’t mutually exclusive; but my budget is limited—especially when we’re talking about volume shooting of large calibers or major smith work.
After the Benelli, I put 15 rounds of Winchester super X .410 buck through the governor. I am not sure what to think of the big Smith. In theory it does everything that I want it to do. In practice it has the worst trigger of any handgun I have ever shot. Moonclips work, but are difficult to load into the cylinder. I have had several problems arise from the heavy trigger pull causing the action to move out of lock if one tries to ride the reset—resulting in a cylinder that is out of alignment for the next shot. I am reasonably certain the moonclip issue arises from the increased cylinder chamber diameter required to accommodate the .45lc and .410. I need to give it a good scrubbing and lube it up. Then I need to get 50 rounds of real .45lc, not the downloaded cowboy loads, and put it through its paces. That trigger that damned trigger is going to have to go out for work. Before I go through that hassle I want to make 100% sure that the gun is a keeper.
I finished up with 2 magazines through my magnum research 1911. I like shooting 1911s partly because of the ergonomics, partly because of the history, but mainly because it just feels right. I need to fit this one with a slimmer set of grips, but otherwise it is perfect—and honestly I replace the grips on all my guns anyway. My 1911 goal is to sit down with WMTrainguy in the next couple months and take both of my JMB specials down for a thorough cleaning. I have several cleaning systems that need to be put to use—I really want to know whether the triad is better than the froglube.
It is nice finally getting back into shooting. My Firearms have been a mental hobby for the past couple years. It hasn’t worked out financially until recently, but I sincerely enjoy regular trips to the range without worrying about how I’m going to make a box of ammunition last for the entire hour. Buying ammunition in bulk helps. Going once a month instead of once a week helps too. I’m hoping that we’ll be able to start shooting steel outside soon—but until then Continental is it.