It was an itch that only one kind of scratch could relieve, and that was to spend some quality time on the shooting range.
Oh, sure, hunting season is out there a ways on the calendar, although not really all that far.
Just ask Cabela’s, Bass Pro Shops, Midway USA, and Cheaper Than Dirt. All of these mail order catalog firms - and others - have been flooding my mail box with a slew of shooting-related fliers.
No wonder, now is the best time to begin tuning up and checking out muzzle-loaders, high-powered rifles, varmint guns, squirrel-hunting rifles and all of the rest that go “bang” and “boom.”
So I did, a few days ago anyway. And with the expectation that at least two more visits to The Club’s 100-yard range would be necessary.
I needed to check and possibly tweak the sight picture on my scoped Norinco bull-barrel .22-caliber squirrel-hunting rifle. And I wanted to see what my 03-A3 Springfield would behave by shooting Remington’s Managed-Recoil loads.
Not lost is whether a newer form of Lightfield’s sabot slugs for my 16-guage Ithaca shotgun would behave differently from its 1/16 ounce lighter and older sibling.
More than two hours were spent on a cool and practically windless morning. Hitting the range shortly after full sun-up, I laid out a humongous array of shooting paraphernalia. That included various shooting bags, ammo boxes filled with a shopping list of different loads, spotting ‘scope, and, well, all of the other truck that filled the cavernous hold of my SUV.
Necessary equipment since the object is to try and eliminate the variables that can go wrong; reducing the process to firearm and ammunition performance only.
The .22-caliber shot where it was supposed to, a 20-round string producing a group small enough to be covered with a nickel. And when I had finished shooting some lollypops taped to the target board I then went after their cardboard stickers.
The Springfield did just dandy as well. The reduced loads were a dream to shoot with very little felt recoil. The older I become the more sensitive I also get to the brunt force trauma of a nasty “kick” from a fully charged cartridge.
The Remington’s 125-grain reduced load will fill the need on an expected Florida wild boar hunt. I’ve been wanting to do something different for a boar hunt and I figured an old military rifle firing a civilian round would meet that definition.
As for the Lightfields, unless I had spent the time on the range I never would have expected so much difference that just 1/16 ounce of lead could produce. The lighter, older generation shot much higher and a tad to the left of the new version.
That led me to believe that I’ll stick with the present model of Lightfield.
The only thing is that I discovered how increasingly difficult it is for my aging eyes to pick up the shotgun’s open, “iron” sights. But the shotgun is intended for use during deer drives when a fast pick-up of a moving target is paramount.
My older brother Rich had visited the same range the day before, piloting his .50-caliber muzzle-loader to a test of a new Barnes bullet sabot. My goodness, at 50 yards he was able to fire a three-shot string that could be covered also with a 5-cent piece.
Once again, such work demonstrates the importance of range time. This way a shooter can sort through which fodder is best suited for his firearm and maybe find something even better and possibly less expensive.
Besides, it’s a good excuse to spend a day besides reaching for the fishing pole and catching a farm pond bluegill. There’s plenty of enough time for that during the summer, too.
- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn