Better And Better

If you don't draw yours, I won't draw mine. A police officer, working in the small town that he lives in, focusing on family and shooting and coffee, and occasionally putting some people in jail.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Range report.

Upon getting off of work at 0700 on Friday, I found it to be a pleasant 55 degrees outside, with blue skies and a glow to the east that foretold warmer weather soon. Well, not really. Should’ve checked the weather.

Having parked in the lee of my work building, I was completely oblivious to the 25mph wind blowing over the top of the building. As I put on a vest over my short-sleeved shirt and loaded up plenty of guns into my friend Robert’s truck, I looked forward to a nice day of shooting, never knowing that a cold front would actually drop the temperature over the next couple of hours, and that the wind that I couldn’t yet feel would increase as a cloud cover would settle in.

By the time we had finished our incredible Taco Lady tacos (my personal new favorites are the Carnitas en Salsa and the Carne Guisada ), our mutual friend Greg finally arrived. He mentioned something about the wind. I gave it little mind other than to wonder if it would interfere with my 100 yard sight-in process.

At the range, the coastal and prairie grass were bent to the ground. Trees were pushed to the southeast, flexing back upright, and shoved out of shape again. Leaves blew along the ground. Weeds blew along the ground. Frickin’ rocks blew along. Birds flew with with a 20 degree yaw dialed in. The wind (later verified on NOAA weather) gusted to 38 mph from our right quarter (from about 4:00 o'clock)while facing downrange.

Nothing much worked well. The sole magazine that I had brought for the Inglis was giving problems, which interfered with the heretofore excellent functioning of that fine pistol. My friends, who are but occasional shooters, were probably affected by the weather—they were not shooting up to their satisfaction. My buddy Robert’s interesting fold-down backup sight for his Bushmaster AR was not sighted in correctly for 100 yards, and we decided that this was a poor day to properly sight it in. The few rounds of .257 Roberts that I had brought were seemingly going to go to waste in the wind. I was thus surprised when I managed an inch and a half three shot group around the bullseye, having held but half an inch or so to the right. Those 120g Sierra GameKings really do hold up a bit better to the wind.

We put up a golf ball on top of a realtor sign. (“A realtor sign?” you ask. Yup. See, back when, we used to sink posts and wire up sheets of plywood for target backing at our friend’s range. But as friends (and friends of friends) used the range, they would be blown off with shotguns, and people failed to remove their paper from the target backing. Finally, our friend just buried them with the backhoe. We got the message, and didn’t put any new ones up. But targets have to be attached to something, so on the way out there, we often stop and pull the illegally-placed realtor signs from the highway right-of-way. I figure that I’m doing the realtors and their agents a favor—those steel-framed signs with the steel or plastic faces each weigh about 4-7 pounds apiece before they are driven into the dirt. The Texas Health & Safety Code says that it’s a Class B misdemeanor to dump items of more than 5 pounds of stuff in a non-approved disposal site. If the aggregate of the items in question is more than 1000 pounds, then we’ve gotten into State Jail Felony penalty range. It’s not uncommon to see the guys putting out the signs with huge trailers outfitted with racks to hold a couple of hundred signs, which would be right at the SJF level. Even if they got off lucky and only got a ticket for each sign, that’s a $200 to $500 fine for each. Ouch. So I figure that I’m just doing my part in cleaning up the roadside.)

We put the ball between the steel crossbar backing and the corrugated plastic facing of the sign, so that about ½ of the ball was visible over the top of the sign. As we began to walk away from the targets to 100 yards, my friend Robert suddenly turned and began to shoulder his AR at the ball… from 10 yards away! “Good lord! That’s a pistol distance!” I shouted, and drew forth my Super Blackhawk to launch a Georgia Arms 300g .44 magnum round at it quickly, one-handed. As you might expect, this made a lot of noise, caused my 4 3/8” barrel to flip high, but didn’t scratch the orb. Damn, but that GA stuff is hot. Damn, but those Blackhawk trigger guards are small! After another miss, I took a Weaver stance and more carefully aimed, hitting the sign, grazing the ball, and firmly striking the steel crossbar to the sign. The crossbar, which was supported only in the middle, bent back with the force of the bullet, and then flexed back toward us, sling-shotting the ball at my friend Blakeley had a speed faster than I could ever throw it. It grazed his neck as he ducked. Such times are good times to have holsters; it keeps you from dropping your firearm as you laugh uncontrollably.

After putting the ball atop another sign in a similar manner, we retired to 100 yards, where I found that a single shot toward the ball’s 3 o’clock edge resulted in a nice hit just below the center of the ball as I looked at it. The steel crossbar didn’t jump much as the 120g .257 bullet passed through it at about 2500 fps (after a 100 yard journey); it simply yielded a nice milksplash crater through it. Again replacing the ball, I took the old Savage out to 50 yards, and popped it handily with the first shot from prone. The ball went away, and we couldn’t find it anymore.

Funny how an old Titlest golf ball found at the range can improve one’s mood so profoundly. I left in high spirits, warming my hands over the heater vents. My friends want to go again, and I want to take them.

And I’ll bring a whole sack of old golf balls.


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