January 30, 2006


Owing to a repetitive-use injury to my right (strongside) wrist (insert pithy blue comment here), I hadn't put more than seven rounds downrange in over two years, and that only to function-test a magazine I thought I'd damaged with one of my Kimbers. Heck, I'd even embarked on the competitive shooting trail, having shot the 2003 Single Stack Classic in Barry IL and having further planned to shoot this event annually before de Quervain's tenosynovitus sidelined me.

Publicola was traveling and would be passing through on his winding way back Southeast from Colorado and had agreed to bunk in with us for a couple of nights. As a young apostle of the Gospel According To Garand, he'd promised (warned) that I was to become a member of The Converted. The weather was wonderful for January in Kansas, and the afternoon turned out unseasonably mild at 65° with a light-to-moderate southeasterly breeze. Nearly perfect.

In the morning we built the target frame from some scrap pressure-treated lumber I had laying around, then gathered up sundry articles, loaded it all in the back of the truck, and headed for the range, which, incidentally, happens to be about 100 feet out my back door. We set the frame out in front of the backstop berm I'd made for the purpose and stapled some targets up, then retired to the 100-yard pad for some .30-'06 goodness. He took me through the basic manual-of-arms with respect to this venerable old warhorse, then slung up and showed me how it's done from the prone position. After the characteristic "ping", he unslung and had me give it a go.

Sidebar: Having been a shooter for the vast majority of my 46-and-change years, I confess first to never having even held a Garand before and further to never having used an issue-style sling when firing a rifle, so Publicola spent several patient moments working on getting me slung up properly. The rifle is in fact that pictured on the masthead of the Publicola site, the one he so nicely restocked.

My first target was frankly horrible. I had trouble getting all 8 rounds on paper -- and in fact was unable to do so -- and was uncomfortable with the sling. We worked on getting the strap to length where I could get good shoulder and cheek welds without being forced to cut my left hand off to get proper elevation on the rifle. After we got that straightened out, however, my second target was much better, and the third and fourth better yet. I was getting familiar with the trigger and taking care of my breath control more consistently, and the results showed. On my final target I was keeping 'em in the black, scaring the bullseye, and actually centered one round. Which I have to admit is pretty good for me at 100 yards over iron sights, particularly since I hadn't shot a rifle in almost ten years and had shot virtually nothing in over two.

After working the Garand over, we decided to advance to the 25-yard pad and pull out some of my toys. First out of its range bag was a new-to-me Smith & Wesson Model 27-2 revolver, their blued N-frame .357 Magnum number which, lamentably, they no longer manufacture. I had purchased this gun used right at a year ago, and because of the aforementioned affliction, had never even fired it. I gave Publicola first dibs on sending a cylinderfull down the pipe. This is a very nice shooter and one I hope eventually to be able to wring a reliable fifty yards from. The light-for-caliber 125-grain target loads printed somewhat low, which I guess is to be expected from a gun with an 8-3/8" barrel and a tall partridge front sight. The previous owner had told me his original intention was to use it as a silhouette shooter, which would lead me to believe he had the sights regulated to a heaver bullet.

Next up was Smith & Wesson Model 629 Classic (.44 Special/.44 Magnum, of course), a gun I've had for nearly three years but which was nevertheless in almost unfired (two cylinders total) condition. Again, I was using light-for-caliber loads, 240-grain jacketed hollowpoints which clock fast but, predictably, printed low. The two of us finally got the measure of this gun and load and had good fun booming 'em at paper. Later, however, I had started sorting brass and noticed a rather badly split case. I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised. The first couple of cylinders we put through the gun extracted very hard. I suspect I should index the cylinder and check it for a loose chamber.

When we'd gotten our wrists good and loose, I pulled out a Ruger Super Redhawk chambered for the .454 Casull and .45 Long Colt rounds. This is the monster I'd most feared would put a hurt on my otherwise relatively untested, surgically repaired wrist. The gun is a real double handfull and wants your undivided attention, but proved to be otherwise relatively pleasant to shoot, producing a most pronounced fireball and gratifying downrange results. Once again, we were shooting light payloads, 250 grain jacketed hollowpoint ammunition pushing 2000 fps, and again, we printed mostly low with these loads.

In between playing with the hand cannons, Pub was also working with a Ruger 10/22 he'd brought along for the ride. The scope was last adjusted for shooting at altitude, and the rifle was sending 'em below point-of-aim (and a bit left due to a mild crosswind) at 25 yards. He also noticed a loose stock-to-action fit and tightened the action screw. A few magazines-full later, he got it dialled in. I spent the last bit of shooting light emptying a Ramline 30-round magazine at the target and doing my best to tear out the bull.

The last of my items to leave their range bags were a pair of Kimbers, both in .45 ACP (naturally), a bone-stock Eclipse (a first-generation production piece), and a Stainless Target I'd had reworked as a Single Stack/Limited Ten gun. We paid proper homage to St. John (Moses Browning) with a couple of boxes of 230-grain ball ammunition, and to top the day off put a couple of magazines of .40 S&W through Brother Pub's Taurus pistol.

Even though my shooting wasn't up to what I'd like to think of as an acceptable standard, it was nevertheless one of the most satisfying and gratifying 5 hours I'd put in on a range in far too long, shared with a guy I like and respect -- although this proselytizing with respect to the Garand might get expensive for me -- and it reminded me why I love this sport so much. The wrist is none the worse for the wear, thank Ba'al, and owing to Publicola's care and attention to getting me into proper shooting form with the rifle, the shoulder has suffered no ill effects either.

Thanks again to Publicola for a wonderful afternoon of shooting, B.S., and also (I think) for formally introducing me to the old warhorse he so reveres.


Posted by Iceberg at January 30, 2006 02:38 PM | TrackBack

Congratulations on iron-sights and M1-fun Iceberg!

Posted by: -keith in mtn. view at January 30, 2006 03:07 PM
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