Torture Test

This post is appearing early in the morning so that if any of you are off to the range later, you can make the necessary preparations.

A while back I was reading about the practice method known as “spot shooting”, something I’ve been doing forever, but didn’t know it had acquired a name.  Put simply, it’s a routine whereby you fill a blank target sheet with small circles, then shoot one (and only one) shot per circle in the shortest possible time.  Here’s how to do it.

The next time you go to the range for some .22 practice, get one of the cheap full-sized silhouette paper targets (or, if you’re one of the people who buys the things in bulk, then takes a few to each range visit, keep one aside after your regular practice session).  Then affix a hundred small circle targets onto the paper, spaced about two inches (2″) apart — rows are best so you can see where you are — then load up the necessary numbers of mags, and get going.  Here are two examples of the target spots, the Birchwood Casey orange dot and the Shoot-N-C type:

These are the two more expensive ways to practice this drill, by the way;  real  Cheap Bastards (e.g. Kim) will go to a discount store or online and buy rolls of the little price tags such as made by ChromaLabel, which have the advantage of being multicolored, available in 1″, 3/4″, 1/2″ or even smaller sizes, and they typically cost less than a penny per spot.

The advantage of this is that it’s a really cheap method of practice, and it is cruelly unforgiving:  there’s no “9-ring” or similar types of escape routes — just a small circle which either has a bullet-hole in it, or not.  It is also unbelievably tiring, mentally.  People often boast of how they blast off many hundreds of rounds at a single practice session, but a hundred in a single practice routine?  Be my guest:  if you’ve never done it before, it’s a whole lot tougher than it looks.

At the end of the routine, you score yourself out of 100, and anything less than 100% represents failure (there is no participation trophy in precision shooting).  When / if you do manage to get 100% consistently (good luck with that), then start timing yourself (or have a range buddy time you) and try to get that same 100% in less and less time.  (It doesn’t need to be stopwatch-perfect, especially the first few times you do it.)

And by the way:  if you’ve never done this before, start with larger dots (1″), and then gradually work your way down to the smaller ones when / if you master that size (uh huh).  For my .22 rifles, I shoot 1″ spots at 25 yards unscoped, and 3/4″ spots scoped;  for a handgun, it’s 1″ or 3/4″ spots at ten yards.

Here’s what this wonderful practice routine teaches you:

  • Patience.  If you lose patience, you will start missing the target.  It’s that simple.
  • Target re-acquisition.  How to move on and aim at the next dot, make sure your aim is true, then fire and move on… one hundred times.
  • Making sure your sight picture is perfect.  No matter how well you think you know your gun, after about the tenth shot, you will know exactly — exactly — what sight picture will score a hit.  Now do it again, ninety times in a row.

About six months ago I got my first-ever 100, with a Browning Buck Mark borrowed from Daughter, shooting the 3/4″ dots at 10 yards.  I felt like doing a victory lap around the range, or at least a Happy Dance, but apparently jumping around like a lunatic while firing bullets into the ceiling is not Acceptable Range Behavior, for some reason.

By the way, this is also a great drill when practicing with your carry piece — only it gets a little expensive even if you’re reloading.  I normally end my session with just one or two mags’ worth of dots (say fifteen rounds of .45 ACP or twenty-five rounds of 9mm), also at ten yards.  I don’t take too much time either:  I shoot what I call “rapid deliberate”, which is about 1.5 seconds per shot.  And if you think this is too easy, toughen up your scoring criteria:  half a bullet circumference or more in the dot counts as a hit, less than half is a miss.  I’ve never yet hit every dot with my carry pieces, but I’ve come damn close.

All this shooting talk is making my finger itch.  If you’ll excuse me… I think I need to go load up my range bag.

Good Shooting

Some guy has put together a video of the Best-Shooting Pistols.  Frankly, I’ll take his word for it, because I do not ever  want to get into a gunfight with him.  Watch the video to see why.

This, folks, is why one needs to practice a lot — although I will admit that having a little gun range in one’s backyard (as he does) without any discernible neighbors in the area doesn’t hurt.  If I had one of those, I’d be the world’s best .22 rifle shooter (and have the world’s largest collection of .22 rifles with burnt-out barrels).

Anyway, the pistols (from #5 to #1):

  • CZ P10-F (full-size version of the P10-C)
  • Walther PPQ Q5 Match (steel-frame)
  • Archon Type B (I’d heard of this German gun, but never actually seen one before)
  • CZ 75 Shadow 2 Black & Blue (finally, a decent and affordable DA/SA competition-ready pistol, and even the base 75B is hardly a slouch)
  • STI 2011 (beloved by competitive shooters;  also:  available in .45 ACP or 9mm — apparently, any caliber — but its 9mm mags hold 27 rounds).

Honorable mentions:  Browning P35 High Power;  S&W M&P 2.0 5″, Glock 34.

After watching the video a couple-three times, I came to realize two things:  1) I have got  to shoot more often, and 2) I need to look at the CZ Shadow 2.  (Forget about the STI;  I can’t even afford the “base” model Staccato P.)

Hell, at least I have a High Power.  Now all I have to do is ahem  practice a bit more.

Useful Stuff

One of the things I hate about rifle practice is the inability to see clearly the bullet strikes on the target (unless using expensive Shoot-N-C targets) — and even more, scanning / photographing and recording the results for, say, posting here.  Step forward, this neat item:


    • 300 yard range
    • High Definition at 960P
    • Adjustable Wi-Fi transmitter
    • Built-in, locking cantilever
    • Cantilever has 90º tilt-n-lock, and rotation for line of sight
    • Wi-Fi transmitter LED indicator for power and signal strength
    • Easy on/off switch
    • Wi-Fi independent charging system
    • 1/4″ standard camera tripod mount (tripod not included)
    • Built-in camera sun-shade
    • LED illumination for low light conditions
    • Flip up telescoping legs for angled use 15º to 25º
    • Base has serrated gripping feet for level use
    • Weather resistant construction
    • Green identifying highlights

Download the free Bullseye Target Manager App to your mobile device (available on GooglePlay or Apple App Store) to seamlessly pair to the Target Camera System on-board Wi-Fi to view shot placement in real time!

I don’t have the two hundred bucks spare to buy this thing right now, but others might.  (And there are longer-range ones also available at Midway.)

Anyone know anything about this particular gizmo?

(Standard disclaimer:  I don’t get any compensation, cash or otherwise, for doing stuff like this — damn it.) 

Plastic Lever Rifles

It’s not often a photo makes me go “WTF?” (unless it’s of the latest incarnation of a Kardashian’s ever-expanding ass), but this one made me choke on my breakfast gin:

Let’s list the atrocities:

  • plastic stock
  • red-dot sight
  • suppressor

…on a lever rifle?

Great Vulcan’s bleeding hemorrhoids.  As any fule kno, a proper lever rifle should look like this:

or this:

and be fired by men who look like this:

…which is as God, Oliver Winchester and John Moses Browning intended.

THAT SAID: the article which accompanies that first (appalling) photograph is extremely interesting.  Hie thee thence and read it.

They’ll be putting scopes  on lever rifles next.  Oh wait, don’t tell me… aaaaargh:

I think I’ll have another gin, just to steady my nerves.  What the hell, it’s almost sunrise.


Over at American Hunter  there’s an article entitled Top 5 Underrated Deer Cartridges, to whit:

6.5x55mm Swede / 7mm-08 / .250 Savage / .338 Federal / .257 Roberts

Longtime Readers will know of my love for the 6.5x55mm Swede, so ’nuff said on that topic (although a recent chat with Combat Controller reminded me that in a stiff crosswind, the otherwise-excellent 6.5mm boolet will get blown around more than a little).

I have no issue with the 7mm-08 either;  in fact, I kinda prefer it to the .308 Win simply because it seems to kick my aged shoulder a lot less, for about the same result at the naughty end of its flight.  Here’s an approximate comparison, using the same bullet weight:

The Savage 99 rifle chambered in the .250-3000 cartridge might be one of the best deep-forest small-game combinations available.  Trouble is, not many other  rifles are chambered for the old cartridge anymore (if ever).

As for the .338 Federal, I’m kinda leery about “new” cartridges which don’t do much more than existing ones, and this cartridge almost defines the breed.  Let’s just do a quick comparison of (say) three different cartridges, all shooting the .338’s 200-grain pill:

Okay, the .30-06 has just about reached its upper limit with the heavier 200gr (as opposed to its most-common 165gr weight), so let’s ignore that one.  The .338 is best compared with the .300 Win Mag, methinks, and it’s not bad in that regard — and the per-box cost for each is about the same (a little under $40 for the premium variants).

Finally, we come to the venerable .257 Roberts.  I happen to like this cartridge myself, but let’s face it:  it shoots a bullet of .25x-inch diameter, which means it’s up against our old friend the .243 Winchester.  Ballistically speaking, a sample shows the following: 

It’s not quite an apples-to-pears comparison (despite the 10-grain bullet weight difference), because in the long run, the .257 Roberts costs more than double the .243 Win and that makes for expensive practice.

Which brings me to the summary of the whole issue.  You’re not going to go wrong  with any of the above “underrated” cartridges:  all will do the job as advertised on pretty much most deer in the lower 48.  The problem is that underrated, in the cartridge sense, means nobody shoots them much — which means that all of them pretty much fail Mr. Free Market’s Availability Test (Cliff Notes:  if gun and ammo are separated in transit, will you find a box of your ammo in Bubba’s Bait ‘n Tackle / your guide’s glove box?).  Even in this company, I think you’re more likely to find any of the above ahead of the .338 Federal (which, to my mind almost defines a “fad” cartridge — i.e. invented by a rifle company to drive sales), so even though it’s a decent cartridge, it’s deservedly underrated by the market.

It also means that the ammo for all the above will be way more costly than their ballistic equivalents, and you won’t find too many rifles thus chambered, either.

All that said, if I were to find a (decently-priced) Savage 99 lever rifle in .250-3000, or a bargain-basement Savage Mod 11 in 7mm-08, or a cherry pre-’64 Winchester 70 in .257 Roberts, would I ignore the deal?  Would you?

Update: I fixed the typo which made the .257 Roberts bullet of .243 diameter. Now please excuse me while I go and beat the shit out of my incompetent proofreader…

Silence In Court

The good folks at sent me a link to their article on silencers (suppressors, moderators, what have you).

If you don’t know much on the topic (I didn’t, until recently), it’s a good one.

Favorite stat: of the ~1.5 million suppressors extant in the U.S., Texas accounts for well over 260,000 (plus one more when I get my act together).

Mr. Free Market has one of these moderated sweetie-pies (because while guns are hated by the elites in Britishland, amazingly, “moderators” are not only allowed, but encouraged  in their use — he has five or six, as I recall).

S&W M&P 15-22. Want.

Thanks to Reader Dave S. for the link.