Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Thirty Years Is A Long Time

I returned to Gunsite for a 250 Pistol class a full three decades after my first...

The first time I went to Gunsite in May of 1986 I wore a HK P7 PSP in a Roger's speed rig.

This time I learned how to drive a Glock 22 Gen4 with a Streamlight TLR1 in a Level III Safariland holster while unlearning outdated techniques. The new methods are better, they're just not engraved on my DNA like the 1986 methods.

Between my duty belt and the AR500 plate armor (which I wore only in the outdoor and indoor stimulators) I all but cancelled out my recent weight loss. Truth be told, I removed the "Hey, keep yer fricken mitts off my buttons" SLS Hood Monday evening and the "Note: do not under any circumstances fail to definitively push down and rotate forward 90 degrees to the stop this strap assembly before attempting to proceed to the next retention device" SLS after a very frustrating Wednesday. I can live with and/or stay alive with the ALS retention device, which can also be had in a variety of Safariland concealment holsters.

In the high desert water loss is insensible. It's not the heat, it's the lack of humidity and the thinner air. By the time you know you're in trouble, you're in deep. If you're not peeing clear several times a day you're doing it wrong.  In the toilets at the South Range there was a little sign that asked you to evaluate your urine color.  You might be fine, in need of a quart, in need of a quart in the next 15 minutes, or in dire and immediate need of two quarts in the next 30 minutes.  Very helpful.  In 1986 we stood behind a convenient bush to piss and held on to anything more serious for a stop at the restrooms near the classroom at lunch or supper time.

More than once this week it was time for more ibuprofen, a long hot bath, and a couple fingers of Ardbeg...

Richard Mann's (he who arranged the 2016 Scout Rifle Conference) son "Bat" was in our 250. He's a capable shooter and an affable young man. PS, I had my "Wednesday Slump" first thing in the morning - suddenly suffering from vapor lock trying to make a Level III retention rig work when time was added to the equation. Gratefully I recovered - by abandoning another retention level, and had a pleasant rest of the day.

I ended up shooting my way to the finals in the Friday afternoon shoot off.  The trick is not to miss any targets, and if you do, fewer than your esteemed opponent.  In the end the Bat Mann won the shoot off by beating your's truly fair and square. Young Bat made no mistakes, I made only one - a split second bobble during the mandatory magazine change.  As I told another elder and better, the graveyard is full of fella's who "Almost..."

As a huge added bonus there was a Scout Rifle class and 2016 conference going on at the same time.

I met Andy Langlois and Splithoof from the forum in person at lunch Monday. Our leather baron is an even more distinguished presence in person. Splithoof exudes relaxed confidence. They both seemed to be having a good time.

Andy and I met Makarov from the forum Tuesday evening for dinner. The company was superb and while I'm glad Chino Valley has places it calls restaurants, next time we'll dine in Prescott.  We'll get the 1903 Clifton/Gunsite 'Smithy pseudo-scout and Eric's Chingring Seven out into the desert and do some shooting one of these days (after the fire restrictions are lifted). 

I had a very interesting and refreshingly honest chat with a member of the Mossberg contingent Wednesday evening at the Galco sponsored BBQ. I asked if marketing and engineering deliberately put their heads together to decide whether making a rifle too light would actually cut into sales by the bulk of their target market who are buying range toys or tactical deer rifles, rather than people who live day in day out with them (the much less common carry daily, shoot rarely sort of person the Scout Rifle is intended for). I was told the medium contour - not even sporter weight - barrel was a deliberate decision based on the market perception that heavy barrels are more accurate, and (with a conspiratorial wink) that the extra weight does't hurt at the bench where most owners will shoot them. Still, I was told that after this week they may have re-look at the barrel contour and overall weight of the piece. We agreed that making a commercial rifle that feeds from M14/M1A magazines is a major plus in the eyes of many gun buyers. Finally, the rep emphasized that this is a scout package applied to an existing rifle, not one built from the ground up as a fully compliant Scout Rifle. The rep was impressed by the current surge of interest in the Scout Rifle concept, but wonders a little how just how large the market really is.  I handled the new Mossberg rifle and while not as light as a KimberSteyr, or even an RGSR, it's a compact, well-balanced rifle. As a bonus, Andy introduced me Jim Brockman, and I sat with Lindy and Janelle at the BBQ.

On Friday after our 250 shoot off I spoke with a rep from Steyr. I told him I'd like to see the Canadian Rangers prototype as a factory option, since some of us only want a scope on our scouts during hunting season. I told him the plastic BUIS might be enough to hunt our way back the car, but that no one would head out into with bush for month with only the coarse plastic sights to point his rifle. He took that in, then mentioned that they made the engineers shoot their Steyr rifles with the BUIS and that, while it could be done, all found it challenging, and one rear sight actually broke that week. He said "...the backup sights are rudimentary and we are going to have a look at that." He also wants to talk with someone about optics. He said something to the effect that " dot sights have come so far, but the scout scope hasn't been updated in decades. How about a switch that would allow you to pick 2x or 6x? Or a scope that could be used in the conventional or forward position?" Not sure this receptive young man knows much about optics but his enthusiasm was impressive and genuine. I could have talked to him for another hour at least, but the closing comments for our 250 were beginning...

Saturday, after a week at Gunsite, then spending all day removing the demolished wood from my old deck to the dump, I'm looking for the glass that will hold four fingers - and a thumb - of Ardbeg.