Targets and Teachable Moments

Yesterday I packed up a bunch of guns and headed to Champion Arms bright and early to beat the crowds if possible. With only half of their lanes open there’s usually a waiting list to shoot, but yesterday wasn’t bad. Well… the wait wasn’t.

What was bad was that I’d been in such a rush to get out of the house I forgot my glasses, and since I don’t use them for driving I didn’t notice until I got to the range. Aside from driving I wear them full time, so shooting was going to be interesting, but my curiosity was piqued so I tried shooting without them. It was… interesting.

I started with the AR 9mm pistol, and with the Bushnell red dot mounted it was easy to hit at 25 yards, but the groups weren’t really good. Moving in to ten yards and running strings of double taps results were comparable; everything more or less where it should be, but a bit sloppy.

Then I tried my favorite carry revolver, my 3″ M1902 in .38 special. Uh oh. I couldn’t really see the front sight, and at seven yards rapid-fire groups were running 5-6″, but well centered. Double-taps were hitting pretty much centered but strung out 6-8″ vertically. Switching to my Colt Police Positive Special .32-20 results were similar, and I realized I was basically wasting time and ammo. Disappointed, I headed home.

Still, it was interesting and useful; it gave me an appreciation for what I can do if forced to shoot without my glasses. With the AR/red dot combo I did well enough out to 25 yards. With the revolvers my shooting was adequate at seven yards, but not terribly precise. I figure I would likely be able to defend myself adequately in most situations I might encounter… but I know I’d better not try for a ‘hostage shot’ at twenty feet. Having a realistic understanding of your limitations is important, and allows you to plan around those limits.

So, a teachable moment indeed.

27 June 2020:

This afternoon I headed back, with my glasses this time. I wanted to do some load and gun testing, but more importantly I just wanted to shoot. You know, for fun. Remember fun? It’s what we used to have prior to this year…

It being the weekend of course it was horribly busy. I put my name on the list and spent the next couple of hours, pleasantly enough, chatting with Chris from McCallen Tactical, some of the range staff and a couple other friendly folks also waiting for their turn. I also perused the shop and picked up some gun-cleaning supplies. Finally it was my turn, and I grabbed my stuff and headed to my freshly sanitized shooting position.

I’m not going to go into too many details, just captioned photos. Long winded captions of course; I’m still me.

I’ve finally gotten reloading dies for .30 Mauser, so time to free up some brass… It’s easier for me to shoot the C96 well than it is to shoot it fast; there’s a lot of muzzle-flip owing to the high bore-axis and powerful cartridge. This was one shot per second at seven yards. I’ve got more ammo on it’s way- 100 rounds was almost as cheap as a 100 pieces of brass, so I’ll just have to shoot some more. Uh, darn?
This little Hopkins & Allen .32 S&W is new to me, and for all that the double action trigger is awful it does put the bullets where you point it. I started at five yards, and the results were respectable given the trigger and tiny sights.
Moving back to seven yards and making an effort produced quite reasonable results. Both targets were shot with Remington factory loads. This little gun has some interesting mechanical features, so you can expect to be reading about it in some detail in the near future.
I decided to trot out Linda’s Colt Junior and have a go. With factory ammo it’s surprisingly accurate at five yards, and fun to shoot. No, the gun is not shooting low; this was due to an aiming error on my part. This target was shot using Magtech factory ammunition.
My 55 grain hand-loads at seven yards, one shot per second. Not too bad. I really like this little gun.
Firing at five yards with the Francotte velo-dog produced this rather decent group at five yards with the Magtech factory ammo. This gun is a hoot, and a lot of fun.
A less happy result with my 55gr. LFP load. The five torn-up shots were at seven yards. The five shots inside the ten ring were at five yards. They almost all key-holed; the Francotte really does not like these bullets. Disappointing.
This early Harrington & Richardson chambered in .38 S&W is also new to me, part of a trade that included the Hopkins & Allen above. This is not a model i have had good experiences with, but I cannot fault it’s accuracy at five yards. The double-action trigger is neither particularly good or bad, but it’s obviously serviceable.
The S&W Model 2 in .38 S&W shot as nicely as always at seven yards, but the chambers are rather sticky; need to address that. Of course there had to be a flyer, but at least you can feel reassured that I haven’t been replaced by an alien pod-person.
This H&R I am rather more pleased with. A Christmas present from my wife, it had been beautifully refinished by a previous owner. Nice results at seven yards; the trigger is quite smooth and not at all heavy, though the reset is so long I have to be very careful. With my big fat finger there almost isn’t room for it to reset.
Trying a new load for my .32-20 Colt Police Positive Special. This was double action at seven yards, once again with that ever-so-reassuring flyer. It makes pretty holes, and the drift to the right is all me. This load uses a 100gr reversed hollow-base wad cutter over 4.0gr. of Universal. From the Colt this makes a bit over 800 fps. and 145 ft./lbs. Not by any means a hot load, and it ought to make a good small game round.
Lastly I had a bunch of miscellaneous .251 TCR lying about, and decided to fire it off to recover the brass. I’m making a bespoke cylinder for this revolver so I’ll undoubtedly be wanting to reload specific rounds for it, so after the first few rounds I was pretty much just blazing away.

Well, there you have it, my weekend adventures and misadventures at the range. I gotta say, after all of this time it was nice just to shoot for pleasure. It’s been a long spring, and Lord only knows what the summer will bring.

Hang in there everyone, and I hope that you and yours stay safe.

Michael Tinker Pearce, 27 June 2020

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2 thoughts on “Targets and Teachable Moments

  1. Eric

    Tinker, Like you I need glasses to clearly see my front sight. But my distance vision is still clear. I realized awhile back that in a self defense event the likely hood of me having my glasses on is pretty slim. So I started learning unsighted shooting or Threat Focused shooting. The idea is that if you can point your finger at a target without looking at the finger you can point a gun without looking at it either. After a little adjustment I can do pretty well. certainly as well as when I’m guessing at where that front site is! Good Luck.


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