After tending to some rat-killing and speculating (more on that later), I wondered out to the S.O. range. I brought with me:
--1 ~1975 vintage Ruger M-77 caliber .257 Roberts with semi-varminter barrel and a decent scope. 2 rounds of 120g Sierra GameKing spitzer handloads.
--1 Kimber Stainless Classic Series I (no firing pin interlock) duty gun, modified only with the addition of a checked steel arched mainspring housing with lanyard loop circa 1943, original style short recoil spring guide rod, and some skateboard tape on the frontstrap. Loads were 200gr jacketed semi-wadcutters over healthy dose of Win 231 powder.
--1 Stevens Model 56 .22 rifle (previously mentioned here), with a few rounds of Remington HP LR. I took the time to put on a good military-style leather sling on it before heading out.
At the range, I plunked down my $5 for the three events. The range officer had an interesting rifle on the bench—a 1970 Marlin 1895 .45-70 with original buckhorn sights restored and evidence of having been scoped. I tried the trigger, and complimented him on it, but he snorted. “That’s not much of a trigger. I’m used to 1900-era Winchesters.” I decided to point out just how good his trigger was, and unsheathed the Stevens. He checked the chamber, closed the bolt, and shouldered the rifle. After a few seconds of fighting the trigger, he inquired as to whether the safety was on. Nope. He kept fighting, and fighting, and finally click-- the sear let go. “Good Gawd!” he exclaimed, “That’s a horrible trigger!” I agreed, but said that the sights made up for the trigger’s deficit. He recognized it as the one I won a turkey with last year, but mentioned that this year, the 50 yard iron sighted portion was from standing, as opposed to freestyle (I had naturally shot from prone.). I just nodded.
We started at 25 yards, shooting at a photo poster of a turkey with pistol. I cussed when I felt one throw a little left, and finished shooting. The last couple felt good, at least. We walked up, and found that I’d let myself get a tad distracted—I shot 6 instead of 5! The only fair way to deal with this is to throw out the best shot. There went one of the two X-ring hits. Dang. Should have short-loaded my magazine.
At 50 yards, I looped up the Stevens in a hasty sling, and sighted in. Because the autumn sun was hanging behind the berm on the south-facing range, my target was a tad fuzzy through the smallest aperture. I clicked to the middle size, and found it adequate. That long Stevens just hangs there, and I barely felt the breeze on me as I put 5 into the second target.
At 100 yards, I fired one round from the .257. It was an inch high. So much for sighting in on a windy day.
Turned out that, with the best pistol shot thrown out, I was tied in score for first in pistol, but my shots were closer to X. Ugh. I hate blurry gray-area wins. The 50-yard rifle competition, however, was mine. “You can only win one turkey—which category do you want to win in?” he asked. Winning at pistol is more impressive to me, and I had actually used my old duty gun, so I asked for that category. Done. I’d be called later to pick up my turkey.
Out on the porch of the range shack, the range officer told me a sad fact. Of the Sheriff’s Office (who was putting on the match and to whom the money went for their Academy), not one of the 30 some-odd patrol deputies had shot the turkey shoot, which had been open from 0700 hours until 1600 hours. It was about 1530 hours as he told me this.
What a missed opportunity for friendly competition! If I were the LT over patrol, I’d come up with a decent trophy or prize, and make every man and woman on patrol shoot for rights to it, with their duty guns. Some folks might be embarrassed. Some folks might try harder to practice. Imposition? Maybe.
But hey—it’s only deadly force.