Thursday, July 29, 2010

Bullseye Pistol Competition, in Malta!

Hey! Occasionally I'll look for news stories that are related to bullseye, and for most of the time it’s very easy to come up empty handed. But one news story published some time ago by the Times of Malta (…yes, Malta) kind of stuck out.

The thought never occurred to me NRA conventional pistol shooting would be performed anywhere other than North America; the exception possibly being a few gentlemen practitioners down under in Australia.

Take a look at the links below but don’t be too disappointed, they shoot at 15 and 25 meters.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Pseudo Rocket Scientist

I’ve been having trouble with one of my euro-center fire guns since last November. It didn’t want to eject spent shell casings, or did so infrequently and in turn caused the next round to fail to feed. I almost resigned myself into believing it would be a jam-o-matic for the remainder of my life.

As a side note, before leaving for Camp Perry I thought I’d save a few dollars and take this troublesome gun with me so a competent gunsmith could give it a good going over.

When there’s a need to ship guns from home for repair, the typical $90 one way charge for FedEx really doesn’t make me feel like I’m getting any value out of my money. So, I readied a place for it in the truck before my excursion to Port Clinton.

Upon my arrival there weren’t any takers at Perry. Not a one. But one smith did play 20 questions with me and determined I did all I could do except for one thing: change the recoil spring. This was the one and only thing I hadn’t yet done. I was stunned when I compared the old and new springs side by side. The overt difference in length between the two was striking, the old spring somehow shrank by 20% from its original length.

Over the past several months I went through a fairly long period of time of buying new mags, adjusting old mags, installing a new extractor and its related spring, shimming the barrel, adjusting the sear engagement, installing a new buffer—and I even reworked my handloads.

After installing the new recoil spring, wouldn’t ya know it, it worked.

For a gun that’s done little more than collect dust over the past three months I needed to become reacquainted with it, but putting that aside, I had a ‘moment.’ It was a parenthetical moment that fueled a sense (possibly a deluded one) of real conviction. Believing I had nabbed this gremlin by the scruff of the neck, the potential for immediate gratification instilled the feelings of righteous indignation and sheer bravado; those two emotions fueled my desire to shoot it in the center fire match at the National pretty much cold.

Looking back, it probably wasn’t a smart idea.

I took it out to the practice range and only ran about 30 rounds through it during a rehearsal NMC—hardly a marathon indicating any level of reliability. The following day during the CF relay, it handily (and lucky for me) cycled 90 consecutive rounds without so much as a hiccup, allowing me to finish the course absent any interruptions. My scores suffered especially during the slow fire targets since I’ve used it so infrequently but it performed flawlessly. None the less, the process reinstated my confidence with this pistol.

So if I backup the truck and recount what I did in attempting to remedy the original dilemma, the most obvious screw up was looking for the most obscure or mysterious of potential issues and working backwards from there. … At the time, I just knew it had to be something way-out if it was my gun!

Well, I guess there’s always associated pain during the pursuit of salvation?

I’ve fallen into this quagmire on more than one occasion. And when it’s shooting related it doesn’t matter if its trigger control, sight picture, reloading—and yes—at times gun maintenance; it’s the simplest thing that’s easiest to overlook.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Pistol Shooters’ Homecoming Week at Perry

At times it’s difficult to describe the many facets of what happens at Camp Perry. I’m aware that some like Dan Pauly and Clark Hardesty provided some blow-by-blow accounts of what happened last week, via the Bullseye-L, which is something I not prepared to do.

Like most, I drive to Perry. I’ve never attended the Canton Regional but it’s where a large number of hardcore shooters go to warm up for the main attraction then leisurely drive to Port Clinton on Sunday. I’m somewhat lucky, compared to most of my peers I had an unhurried six and a half hour drive from home, which takes me closer to eight hours to actually accomplish. Compared to a lot of other shooters I’m fortunate, I’m not faced with a marathon excursion that’ll force me to transverse Nebraska or several other massive western states as part of my road trip.

The weather driving out was seasonal, making it an enjoyable trip. I left the bottomland of the great Susquehanna Valley, worked my way over the Appalachians with its related Laurel Highlands, and then slowly descended into the Ohio Valley towards the edge of Lake Erie. All the while noticing similar radio formats uniquely dominate each region; I’m still astounded how bluegrass can somehow coexists with classical jazz in mountain territory.

On Tuesday at Perry, I noticed a live radio feed (augmented with local billboard advertising throughout Erie and Ottawa counties) stationed in front of the NRA’s statistical office, where the NRA invited the general public to come out and watch the National Matches. You’ve got to give Tom Hughes a lot of credit for this one, the Director of Pistol Competitions had excellent foresight. Quite a few local non-competition shooters, and some non-shooters, arrived to get a look at what was going on.

On three separate occasions I had different locals ask me how things worked and what the sport was like. And most of them inquired about how to get started in competitive pistol shooting. I felt like such a feeble ambassador for our sport.

My suspicion is the NRA was a lot more successful with their marketing campaign than they realized or expected. I started to ponder what the total census was of newbies making it past the front gate. My best guess is there were a lot more newbies who reached out to other shooters on a random basis than anyone ever expected.

The only visible drawback, there wasn’t noticeable signage to address the public as to where to go or who was to greet them.

I finally had a chance to meet Tara Poremba from the History Channel’s Top Shot series. She’s such a lovely person. What impressed me about her is, she’s slightly different than her edited for television persona and if you caught the last episode we all know she can be deadly with a Colt SA revolver. Face-to-face Tara is easily engaging, way more attractive than the camera renders, extremely bright, has a comfortable sense of humor and is a very easy person to talk with. She’s one of those people you just can’t not like. [Tara, thanks for the invite to last Sunday’s screening of Top Shot at Nick’s. If I didn’t have other obligations at the time it would have been priceless to watch your reactions as the show unfolded.]

During the CMP events I met Jim Henderson again. He’s the epitome of a classic bullseye shooter: by being ever so upbeat and friendly. Actually I was squadded to his right during the NTI and President’s 100, so I was forced to score his targets. Believe me, it’s something I would have preferred someone else do, especially since an NRA official glared over my shoulder the entire time. One thought constantly ran through my head, what if I screwed up his score card—or worse yet—cross fired on his target? ( … For one fleeting moment I had this image of a mob of 19th century town villagers, all of them grasping pitchforks and torches, where they seized me and forced me to watch my burning effigy. ... Thank heaven it turned out better than that.)

During scoring I eventually plugged two of his shots, where Jim gave me the same instructions each time, “Please don’t ask me what I think, it’s up to you to call it.” Clearly the man has a real standup type of attitude. Luckily it played out (and plugged in) like it was supposed to, by Jim winning the NTI (292-10x) straight-up. Although, at the time, he expressed some concerns about potentially “leaving the door open for someone else” to win.

For those of us who attended Perry, we faced the typical things that are unique only to this most prestigious venue: A range halt due to a bald eagle landing on the range; a range alibi due to 5 second facing targets; the occasional backer that’s blown out of the frame; another halt because jet skiers entered a secured area of the lake behind the backstop; and it wouldn’t be Perry if I didn’t get sun poisoning again on the back of my calf’s.

I’d like to encourage all of you who have yet to attend this event to come out and play with the rest of us next year. It’s unique, fun, and a very special event that should be experienced by all bullseye shooters at least once in their lifetime.

If you would like to read the results, use the NRA and CMP links below.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

On Vacation

Having only a few days before the start of the National Championships, it’s never too late for you to think about attending. [Sign up here] I know for some of you it’s more than a day trip, and I’ll be the first to admit it’s an exceptionally difficult event to describe accurately, from the heart. … Unless you’ve already been there.

If you ever had doubts about what to bring, be it ammo, clothing or cleaning supplies, use these links by Justin Nystrom and Steve Turner. Both gentlemen offer great insights about what you should bring, what’s needed to get the job done and how to avoid stumbling around on the firing line.

For those of you who are first-timers, I suggest reading an old post of mine titled Hitcher Hiker’s Guide to Camp Perry. In it I chronicled the most basic of items to either bring or be aware of prior to squadding.

Although, on a final note, for the past two years I’ve intentionally avoided reporting from Camp Perry; it’s just too much of a commitment for me. I attend for the same reasons everyone else does, and with limited time, the process of trying to craft posts that are both informative and entertaining is simply beyond me. There’s too much to do. In an ideal world we’d all be there and share the experience together.

Please don’t be surprised but my weekly posts will be absent over the next two weeks. I’ll be getting my final items readied before leaving, or participating in the Nationals.

*Photo provided by Ron Hawkins of Brian Keyser during the 2008 NTI.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Rubber Band Man

Back in 1924 a railroad machinist developed and patented this Sharpshooter model rubber band gun, for indoor BE practice long before air pistols became prevalent. The price was the princely sum of $2.50.