Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Contacting Those Miserable Curs...

© By Albert A Rasch

I really would like to avoid any politicizing on my blog. It’s a no win for a writer unless that’s his or her thing. I’m all about my family, hunting, fishing, and outdoorsy stuff. The more likely I can lose an eye the better I’ll like it. I won’t write about the Presidential elections (Anyone but Hillary Rodham Clinton), nor the state of the economy. (Fine. It’s just a normal correction; happens every nine to twelve years.) Definitely don’t ask me about whom I think should be allowed to vote. (Don’t worry Kristine and Holly, you guys are safe! Dumbasses, on the other hand…)

But after reading Kristine’s article and Othmar’s commentary, I had to hang my head and come to the realization that I too, was too much a talker and not enough a doer. Oh, before I go too far with this mea culpa, I have on an occasion or two voiced my displeasure with my elected officials, but not frequently or stridently enough.

Othmar states it clearly enough, everyone else that is formed against us is very well organized. Outdoorsmen aren’t. I would like to think that we are in the mold of Daniel Boone, Capts. Lewis and Clark, General Lee, Teddy Roosevelt, Patton, all the rugged individualists that made this nation great. But this is a situation that requires a concerted and continuous effort; an effort where only the most tireless and dedicated can hope to win, where friends and associates can make the difference. I therefore resolved to do my part to assist.

You will find that I have located the email communications system for both the House of Representatives, and the Senate. Both of them are relatively easy to use; the House requiring you to have the nine digit zip code for your home. So rip it off some piece of junk mail and tape it to your computer.

You will also find the links to organizations that keep track of legislative affairs that are of importance to the outdoor enthusiast.

Something that I will be doing is making an effort to communicate these issues everyone that I come in contact with via The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles, and Outdoor Blogger Summit. Furthermore I will try to supply a properly worded document that anyone can cut and paste onto there own response when emailing the legislature. You can change it anyway you want to suit your own style. But the convenience of having a pre-written note might be helpful to some. And its not like the aids really read what you write, they just look to see if you are for or against.

Click on the links and it will take you right to a simple to use menu that will get you to your appropriate legislative persons.

US Sportsmen's Alliance
is an organization promoting outdoor enthusiasts' rights. In their own words:

"The USSA meets and defeats anti's attacks against big game hunting, bowhunting, hunting with hounds, trapping and other aspects of the outdoor heritage."

US Sportsmen's Alliance also has a "Bill Tracker" which allows you to pull up any bill in Congress or your home state that involves issues relating to outdoor activities.

I will continue to update this post as more information comes up. If you have a good link let me know about it.

I would like to encourage everyone to read Othmar's editorial. "
Get Active in the Protection of our Rights." As usual, Mr. V gets it right and gives good advice to boot. While you are there, read his archives as there is a wealth of information in them!

On the Outdoor Bloggers Summit, Kristine's piece, Speak Up and Speak Out covers much the same territory, and was what initially put me on this path.

You will notice that right above the Outdoor Bloggers Summit tag, I now have Sportsmen's Political Survival Links. You will eventually find all the sites I find posted there. Please feel free to copy them and use them in your own blogs and websites.

BTW I was perusing NorCalCazadoras' blog and bumped into this post. Let's not be the one that decides who should or shouldn't be out there hunting, fishing, biking or whatever. We are all in this together. If you feel differently, then do your own thing, but don't denigrate someone else for sharing your passion. It's near the end of her post.

Albert A Rasch
The Hunt Continues...

Shooting and Shooting Well

"Gun Control is Having a Good Sight Picture"

One thing I have noticed on my frequent rounds of the shooting range is the vast numbers of people that never leave the comfort of the bench, whose rifles never leave the sandbags, and whose skill never increases. By the way, how many rounds does it take to sight in that rifle?

The best thing I ever did, was to shoot several hundred rounds of twenty-two ammunition offhand at a spinner one afternoon many years ago.

It all started with a Columbian Mauser converted by the Israelis to 7.62 x 52 NATO (308 Winchester). First real rifle I ever bought. Steal butt plate, lousy stock design, guaranteed to jar your teeth loose. In those days I didn’t even break 145 lbs. To top it all off I bought several boxes of Musgrave ammo. Great stuff that ammo. Made in the Republic of South Africa, the rounds have heavy for caliber bullets of course. Long round nosed soft-points jammed up tight against the rifling. Pull that trigger get kicked by a mule. With shoes.

So needless to say I also learned to flinch. The anticipation was almost as bad. I even flinched subconsciously when I pulled the trigger of my airgun. As I got older I knew I was a flincher but didn’t know how to overcome it. I could will myself to stillness, but I either pulled the trigger, or momentarily closed my eyes.

One fine weekend, I was at a paintball tournament, and we were going through CO2 cartridges like mad with paintballs flying like mayflies at a hatch. For one reason or another I realized that I wasn’t flinching when I pulled the trigger. I paused in wonder, and immediately got hit by about eight paint balls. In those days you only had orange so I looked, well, orange.

After consideration, I figured that I was mentally occupied with the game at hand, and did not anticipate the recoil because first of all there was so little to contend with, and secondly I was focused on the target or targets. I went home to experiment. I bought a couple of bricks of 22LR, an extra magazine for the Ruger 10/22, and a spinner target with a one inch target. My Ruger has a Volkstrum trigger that I bought through Brownells and is the only modification I have made to it.

I set it all up with a good backstop at 25 yards.

I stood there shooting round after round. One eye open, both eyes open, different presentation angles, and different start positions. At first I concentrated on not flinching. Good sight picture, breathe control, and squeeze that trigger. Then I just relaxed. I was comfortable. As the afternoon wore on, I was shooting without really thinking, I was becoming instinctive in my targeting. I could focus on the target; the surroundings, the wind, and everything else became extraneous to me. The sighting became automatic and the spinner clanged with monotonous regularity. 99% on target. I moved out to fifty yards. The interesting thing was that once again the spinner never really stopped moving. 90% on target. Now I was cocky. Out to a hundred yards. At that distance I might have hit it 3 or 4 out of ten times. That’s offhand, at a one inch target, with a scope set at 1.5X. Not bad with a factory barrel Ruger10/22.

I went straight for my Weatherby 30/06. I really like my Weatherby, with its oiled walnut stock, and its Leupold scope. With 180 grain Swift A-Frames, and me doing my part, it will keep five rounds inside an inch and a half at a hundred meters. That’s more than good enough for me. I’m told that it will do minute of angle with 150’s but I prefer heavier bullets for hunting. In this case though, and in the name of economy, I used some budget 150’s for practice. I burned a hundred round of PMC ammo, (with a half dozen cleanings in between), mostly offhand, at a variety of targets and ranges. Now I can confidently state that if I decide to shoot at something with a properly sighted rifle, I will hit it where I aim. The flinch is gone.

When it was time to teach my wife to shoot with her S&W 908, I bought a case of ammo, and three extra magazines. When we went to the range, I brought my bull barreled Mark II, two magazines, a brick of .22 ammo, and the Smith and Wesson. We fired the Ruger until she was warmed up and comfortable shooting. Cristal is an old hand with the Mark II, having one of her own before I even met her. Anything that comes within her sights is apt to be ventilated, so I would think twice before challenging her to a gunfight.

The S&W is a nicely made compact 9mm. I am not a fan of the 9mm and my personal self defense gun is a Colt 1911 in 45 auto. But she needed a compact firearm with good capacity, and the 908 fit the bill. At the range, I filled up the four mags, and told her to point it down range and fire one round every two to three seconds until the slide locked. Drop the empty magazine, put another one in, and do it again; and again, until she went through all four magazines. By the third magazine she was in control of the weapon, and by the end of the session later that day, my thumb was raw from shoving 9mm rounds into the mags, and she was making two inch holes in the cardboard backing of the targets at 21 feet, just because she could.

(Update: As much as Cristal loves the fit and comfort of the S&W, I should have bought a Colt for her instead. Something has gone wrong with the Smith. The slide refuses to budge. The weapon does not have a round in the chamber, thankfully, and the only clue I have is that the extractor is not flush with the slide. What happened previous to the slide locking up is unknown. My darling loaned it to my father in law, and that is how it came back…

I am going to remove the grips tonight and see if I can garner any more information. I downloaded the manual from the S&W website, maybe there are some clues in there.)

When it came time to teach the kids, I was ready. I bought us all matching Daisy Red Ryder BB Guns! A couple dozen pop cans strewn about the yard constituted our targets. After a short but very serious lecture and demonstration on gun safety, we proceeded to ventilate as many cans as possible. Several thousand BBs later, everyone was making the cans dance all across the yard.

Then it was to the bench with the Ruger 10/22. Once again the focus was on safety and overall gun control. Proper gun handlings, sight picture, breathe control, and squeezing the trigger, was the order of the day. The key was a relaxed but purposeful attitude and a controlled discharge of the weapon. Both the boys did an excellent job of it.

After several weeks of shooting the Ruger, I pulled out the old 308 and another Ruger, a 77/22 in 22 Hornet. The 308 went to the older one, while the younger was assigned the Hornet.

By now I had pseudo-sporterized the old Mauser. Gone was the steel butt plate, replaced with a proper pad. The stock had been reshaped to more pleasing lines (sorta…), and a sling installed. I left the original iron sights on it. They are rugged and accurate enough for the kind of hunting I do. A box of 150gr pointed soft points rounded out the ensemble.

We headed out back to our shooting range and set up at the fifty yard line. I had a bag of soda cans with me to liven the exercise up. The boys stapled the cardboard target backers up, while I set up a few cans on stumps. Back at the bench Blake took up position first. I asked him to fire one fouling shot at the target and then we would continue. He had no problem, hitting within an inch of his point of aim. I then changed it up a bit, I asked him to shoot at the bottom of two cans that were stacked one upon the other. What he didn’t know is that I had put two full cans there. When he pulled the trigger, the impact and subsequent disintegration of the hollow pointed 45gr bullet, not only blew the bottom can to smithereens, but also ruptured and exploded the top one. I can’t think of a better display of the destructive power of a firearm.

That demonstration drives home the lethality of any high speed projectile. The same can be done with a milk jug filled with water to which some red dye has been added.

Properly awed I set the two down to business. Both of them put a dozen rounds of 22 Hornet down range without any issues. Again we concentrated on proper form, target acquisition, sight picture, and trigger control.

By the time we ready for the Mauser, I was concerned that the switch from the Hornet to the .308 would be dramatic. I was wrong. The boys, other than remarking that it “kicked a little more,” continued to put round after round down the range, hitting their assigned targets with monotonous regularity. Both were shooting offhand and doing a much better job of it than I ever did. Just to be sure, I occasionally mixed in a spent round while helping them load their rifles. Not once was there any noticeable flinch, twitch, or extraneous movement on their part.

The lesson here is to use a firearm that you know you can control and that you are not afraid of! Any rimfire is a good choice along with a brick of ammo. Proper form and safe gun handling habits are easily reinforced by using the relatively quiet and basically recoilless guns to solidify them. A move to a mid level gun that a good physical fit for the shooter is also important. From there its just a matter of regular practice to stay fit and on target.

There is one thing that I do each and every time before I go out. The day before, I take out the Ruger 10/22 and shoot several magazines in all the field positions, sitting, kneeling, and mostly offhand. I have never shot a single head of game without a rest, but the confidence of being able to do so makes me a better hunter.