Monday, June 21, 2010

Things We Learn At The Public Deer Rifle Sight-In (2005)

There is an annual work requirement at the private gun club I belong to.  One of the ways to meet this requirement is to serve as a coach at the annual deer rifle sight in, which is the only time during the year that the club is open to the public.  Each weekend in October we meet with all kinds as they come to make sure their rifles, shotguns, muzzleloaders, and pistols are ready for the deer woods...

image courtesy of wikimedia commons

A completely difference breed of cat comes to the first weekend of the club's public deer rifle sight-in month. There were more bolt guns. Many synthetic stocks - good ones - were in evidence. A much higher percentage of Leupold, and better, scopes graced the rifles. There were fewer Remington 742s, and only a couple surplus SKS carbines. There were classics, a Savage 99 and a 1903 sporter. There were muzzleloaders - all inlines - that people shot actual groups with, even at 100 yards. There were shotguns people shot actual groups with, even at 50 yards. And there were magnum pistols people could shoot actual groups with, even at 25 yards. I only heard "Close enough" once all day, and this from a guy shooting into a couple inches at 200 yards.

A guy in his early twenties showed up early saying "My boss is taking me deer hunting in Canada, so I bought this rifle, but I've never shot one before. What do I do?" Never shot a rifle before? Oh why not, we have all day. He opened the case. He had chosen a Browning A-Bolt BOSS stainless synthetic in 300 Winchester Magnum wearing a Swarovski moon scope in the 4.5-14.5x range. Hmmn. We took him to 25 to make sure his "gunsmith boresighting" was worth what he paid for it. It was, the only time that day. He shot a one hole group a skosh low. Took him to fifty. He shot a one hole group on the money. Took him to 100. He shot into an inch about 1-1/2 inches high. Took him to 200.  He shot into an inch about 1-1/2 inches high. "What about 300?" he asked. Took him to 300. The wheels didn't fall off, but they wobbled a bit. He shot minute of buck about 10 inches low. He said "Gotta' go; my hunter safety class is starting." We wished him well and wondered aloud whether his boss had any more openings...

Early in the afternoon I was pacing the line. I stopped to watch a family of three each taking turns with their 300 Weatherby rifles in their shiny new shooting cradle. Each was a lightweight synthetic with a skinny fluted barrel. All three wore large Leupold variables. Two of three wore blast enhancers [muzzle brakes], both different brands. One with oval slots was the finest "stun grenade" I ever stood next to. A collection of brass lay in the gravel beside the bench. The empties just didn't look right. The necks were too short, way too short. I picked one up. The customary double venturi shoulder was there but the neck stop perhaps .15 past the last curve. Could it be? Would anyone be so stupid? I turned the case over to read the headstamp...yup, 300 Winchester Magnum! "Excuse me, sir" I interrupted before his next shot "Do you know you're using 300 Winchester Magnum ammo in your 300 Weatherby?"  The answer I dreaded most was only a moment in coming "Oh yeah, we figured it would be a cheaper way to get 'em on the paper". I told him I couldn't let him do that anymore today. He grunted and switched to the appropriate Weatherby ammo.

I quietly collected a few cases to share with the folks teaching hunter safety classes...

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