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Tales from the range

by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier

I was at the rifle range yesterday and there were some things that I had to tell you. There’s no order to this — it’s just what I want to say.

First thing, I get to the range and there’s a young man with 3 very fine rifles. One has been custom made for him, and the other 2 are factory models that each have some add-ons such as aftermarket triggers. He mentioned that he had just gotten rid of a .257 Weatherby Magnum from which he was unable to get good groups.

Each of his rifles had a Leupold Vari X III scope, which is not a cheap sight. There are couple thousand dollars worth of fine firearms and sights laying on his bench. But every 10 minutes or so, he asks if the range can go cold so he can walk down to the 100-yard target holder and look at his targets. That’s right, sports fans, he hasn’t got a spotting scope!

I set up my spotting scope; and when he saw it, he immediately launched into a spiel, “I really need to get one of those!” He told me he was using targets with red bulls because he couldn’t see his .25-caliber holes on black bulls through his rifle scopes at 100 yards. I invited him to look through my spotting scope, and he was amazed that he could clearly see all his holes on the target. How much easier his shooting life would be if he only had a spotting scope!

Spotting scope
My spotting scope allows me to see every shot I make at 100 and 200 yards without leaving the bench. It’s not a thing to appreciate in its own right, but it enriches the time spent on the range.

He asked me to recommend a good spotting scope, but I couldn’t. All I could say is that nearly all telescopes are made in the Orient these days, and you really need to look through them to find a good one. The fancy names mean very little, as I found out with a Celestron spotting scope that had horrible optics. I actually traded a rifle for my current scope because it’s so clear. More rifles I can get. Good spotting scopes are hard to come by.

What bothered me the most about this encounter was that I could see myself 30 years ago in this young man. I did the same thing then that he’s doing now. I spent all my money on guns and had nothing left over for the mundane equipment that matters so much when you want to shoot comfortably.

Tale 2
Same day, same range. Another young man arrives and just wants to blow the dead bees out of his barrel before he drives to work. He has a fine rifle, too. Know what he uses for hearing protection? The filter tips from 2 cigarettes!

Tale 3
Then, I’m down at the 100-yard berm, looking at my targets. The holes made by the bullets are sharp and distinct. They can tell me a lot — especially when untoward things happen — like bullets tumbling. I glance over at my neighbor’s target. It’s a piece of paper torn from a notepad, with a bull inked-in by a black Sharpie. The holes are more like tears than bullet holes.

So, Mr. thousand-dollar rifle with his five-hundred dollar scope is shooting dollar-apiece rounds at a piece of wastepaper he has colored to look like a real target. There’s real economy for you!

target paper target
This real target from National Target shows the pattern of tumbling bullets quite well. Note paper can’t do this!

Tale 4
Remember what I said a couple days ago about a right-handed shooter who pulls the trigger on a handgun instead of squeezing it? He’ll always shoot low and to the left. I was on the pistol range and a fellow was trying out a new (to him) .40 Smith & Wesson that he just traded for. It had a fat double-stack magazine that he loaded to the max, then he walked halfway to the target on the 15-yard range. So, he is now just 7.5 yards from the target. Hey, 90 percent of all defense situations happen at less than 9 feet — right?

Bang! Bang! Bang! Guess what? Nice tight group on the target, but below the bull and to the left. He says he guesses he’ll just have to adjust his sights on this pistol, too. Funny — all his pistols shoot to the same place.

And I have a bloody tongue from biting it so hard.

Tale 5
Another guy on the line is shooting a Blaser single-shot rifle. They cost anywhere from $2,000 to $4,500, by themselves. And, guess what he’s resting it on? A 6-inch by 6-inch wood block with a pillow cushion on top. What — he can’t find an ironing board like everybody else?

I shot for many years using a plastic MTM Case-Gard Predator rifle rest. I found it stable and accurate. Maybe not as fancy as other rests, but for the cost of 2 boxes of rifle ammo, it was pretty good.

M-T-M rifle rest
The MTM Case-Gard Predator rifle rest served me well for many years.

Caldwell Lead Sled rifle rest
Today, I use the Caldwell Lead Sled rifle rest.

I upgraded top a Caldwell Lead Sled a while back. It’s even more stable and rigid, plus is allows adding weight to absorb recoil.

What’s my beef?
I don’t really have a complaint, as much as a plea to those guys who are being penny-wise and pound-foolish. Shooting equipment is not sexy, but it can make a huge difference in your level of enjoyment while you’re behind the trigger. This is the stuff you buy begrudgingly today, then celebrate your good decision for the rest of your life. And its more than just the few things mentioned here. It’s also good gun cases, nice holsters, indestructible bullet traps, handy range bags and boxes — in fact anything that helps you enjoy your time afield in any way.

This isn’t the stuff that dreams are made of, but having it does allow you to dream. And here’s how you will recognize it. When you look at your equipment, pick out the things that have been with you the longest. The things that are worn shiny by handling. The things you would miss sorely if they weren’t there. You probably grumbled when you bought them, but today you couldn’t imagine going shooting without them. They aren’t the experience by themselves, but they make the experience possible.

author avatar
Tom Gaylord (B.B. Pelletier)
Tom Gaylord, also known as B.B. Pelletier, provides expert insights to airgunners all over the world on behalf of Pyramyd AIR. He has earned the title The Godfather of Airguns™ for his contributions to the industry, spending many years with AirForce Airguns and starting magazines dedicated to the sport such as Airgun Illustrated.

88 thoughts on “Tales from the range”

  1. BB

    You once wrote that you have been to hundreds of gun ranges. I have only been to three. At all three of these (indoor) ranges airguns are not allowed. Do you encounter this often?

    I have cut myself very deeply on a few occasions. Wounds on fingers don’t seem to want to stay closed. Superglue seems to work pretty well for this, but you probably know this already.

    • SL
      We always have Super glue in our tool box’s when we fly the R/C Planes.

      You know to repair the hurt plane’s.

      And those airplane’s propeller get hungry at times too.

    • SL,

      I have never been to a range that didn’t allow airguns. Of course in the past I may not have known that they were not allowed if I didn’t try to shoot them. I have been doing this for a half century and there is a whole lot I don’t remember that well.


    • I have recently encountered the same problem about airgun prohibition at a major indoor range locally (Phoenix, AZ metropolitan area) of which I am a member. The Scottsdale Gun Club in Phoenix (has 32 75 feet indoor ranges) prohibits shooting airguns because “club management advised me that their steel and concrete bullet trap system is not designed for any airguns”. It is interesting that SCG allows shooting shotguns (with shot type restrictions). A another new local range, T2 Tactical Shooting Range (75 feet rifle ranges) in Tempe does allow both air rifles and shotguns. T2 has a steel, concrete, and finely shredded rubber tires trap system. I am going to change my membership to T2 so I can shoot both airguns and firearms. We have three other Phoenix area indoor ranges but I have not checked their policies. It is unpleasant to shoot outdoors in the summer when the temperatures typically range from 105-118.

      • While “cyanoacrylate” may sound like it’s related to cyanide it isn’t as toxic as one might think… I believe it has been used by hospitals for closing some wounds (those that don’t aren’t affected by blocking off blood flow to the adjoined tissues).

        • That is what I have been told by numerous people also.

          We have it in our medicine cabinet at work. I think it has some kind of generic name the medical supply manufacturer gives it. Something like Insta-heal or something. I will look Monday when I go to work if I remember.

  2. Hello B.B. and fellow airgunners. The last few blogs you have penned have really hit home with me. Yesterday, I finally saw what has been eluding me ever since I took up the sport 4 years ago. It seems I, and a few others like me, was trying to get my head around fill pressures, and why they vary so much from maker to maker. It didn’t make sense that one gun should get 30 good shots from a 2000psi fill, and another demanded 3000psi and up for the same shot count. Throw a regulator into the mix, and I was determined to remain a spring piston shooter for the duration. Your blog yesturday showed that psi ratings are there as a safe bench mark from the manufacturer, and/or a person who doesn’t tinker. People who are satisfied with their gun from the box. And thats fine. However, I love to tinker. Especially when I know I can make a marked improvement over the factory tuned gun. Well, at least for the Marauder. Is the Air Arms 510 any closer to having a place in my gun closet? Mmm, we shall see_.
    Todays blog brought fond memories of my competitive archery days. I love archery, however, the years of drawing 50lbs. has exacted a toll on my shoulder tendons. I find it impossible to raise and hold a bow at full draw. There is no pain to speak of, just a maddening feeling of weakness. Over the 6 years of competitive shooting, I managed to collect quite a few essentials needed to keep me in striking distance of the podium. One that stood out was the spotting scope. It is important, in my opinion, to obtain the best spotting scope you can afford. At distances of 90 meters, it is essential to know exactly where your group of arrows landed. Arrows don’t always hit the butt straight on. If constructed of donaconda for instance, your nock may look to be in the 8 ring using a cheap scope, but is in fact a solid 10. The un even surface of the butt causes the arrow to deflect sideways upon impact. You could adjust your sights all day, and your hopes of having a great tournament keep going down hill. Also, six sighting arrows are all that are allowed in most competitions. Each shot gives you the valuable information you need to hit the bulls eye. I was asked many times to spot for a target partner who was totally lost because he lost track of his arrows amongst the three other shooters on the butt. This is o.k. in an informal shooting situation, but is down right irritating when you’re trying for that elusive spot on the team. I am the type of person who finds it hard to say no. Just show up with a good scope the next time we meet. Please.
    I find the disciplines of archery and airguns very similar. Relaxation, hold techniques, sight picture, trigger control, and follow through. All are essential in obtaining perfection in both sports. Target shooting with an airgun gives me that thrill, and feeling of accomplishment I thought was lost when I hung up my bow for good. I love obsessing over seemingly minor details. Airgun shooting fills that bill perfectly. Last, but not least, the camaraderie I found in archery, exists equally in airguns. People are eager to share experiences, and information. Something that is sorrily lacking in other groups. Chess being one that comes to mind. A take no prisoners sport. Who would have thought?
    Caio Titus

    • Titus,

      Well, you certainly got what I was trying to say! Yes, a good spotting scope is essential to success. It is worth so much more than one good rifle or handgun. But I think you have to live a log time to discover that for yourself.

      Who knows?


    • I’m amazed at people hitting an archery target at 90 yards at all, and I had wondered about the draw weight required for that. So 50 pounds? I got a longbow with a 60 pound draw weight figuring that I would work up to it. Even if I didn’t, I wanted the closest approximation to the original English longbows which, in the form of specimens recovered from a shipwreck, had a draw weight of 180 lbs. Inconceivable. The sensation of trying to draw a 60 pound bow is very strange. I’m plenty strong enough to pull 60 pounds, but drawing that bow induces a demonic shrieking in the muscles, and I release almost before I know it. I’ve come within a few inches of a full draw on that bow with some practice but never quite managed it. My plan was to work up to the weight, but if this is a degenerative activity that would give me pause. I understand that skeletons of the English longbowmen had massively enlarged bones in the left arm from overuse. You wonder what their complete arm looked like. I wouldn’t want that, and it’s odd too. You would think that the draw motion would stress the right (pulling arm). Maybe this is part of the secret English technique of “throwing your body into the bow” which seems to have been lost.


      • If your technique has been to shove your left arm out in front of you (well, to the side if you are in traditional pose with head turned) and then use your right arm to pull the string back, I’m not surprised you have trouble with the 60lb bow.

        Instead, try holding the bow with nocked arrow over your head (arrow basically aim at the sky), then finger the string at the nock. You should be able to get the nock near your cheek without too much trouble using your right arm. NOW use your left shoulder/back muscles to rotate the bow from overhead to shooting position at your side — your right hand just rotates, and your shoulder/elbow are in near 180deg lock.

        Using a tape measure, the overhead “draw” is 23 inches; then rotating the arm down (no movement of my right arm) stretches the “draw” to 31 inches (“draw” being the distance from where my left thumb holds the tape measure to my right hand fingers on my cheek)

        Back in the late 80s early 90s when I attended gaming conventions I used to live in the SCA lecture room. I always got a kick out the archery lecture as they often passed around a cheap 70lb recurve (cheap in that they could risk the unwashed masses potentially damaging it by accidental dry-fire).

        Most tried the straight pull and gave up half-way through… The bow would get around to me, and I’d use the above described technique to achieve a full draw and hold (side note — my left hand is not really gripping the bow — the fingers were essentially open, just the thumb and index finger keeping the bow from slipping sideways, the others were curled just enough that were I to really fire an arrow the bow would not fall from my hand when the tension was released)

  3. Well this is a interesting blog.
    I have found it very interesting to watch and see what people have done throughout time with the hobby’s that I have been involved in. Some have been funny. sSome down right dangerous. Makes you wonder sometimes.

    But as far as spotting scopes go. They are as important of a tool as a Chroney is to a pcp gun.
    I have a Winchester Spotting Scope (and it does come with a nice hard case that will hold targets and a rangefinder and such).
    And also functions as a nice Telescope for the stars and the moon. And also my oldest girl likes owls.
    We have 4 big Hoot Owls that we watch at night with it.

    And BB above were you talk about (Tale 4)
    See BB you are already teaching me how to shoot a pistol….Trigger Pull.

    And gun rests. Your teaching again BB. You can’t really know the full potential of your gun unless you try a nice rest. I mean yes its possible to come up with a good hold. But eliminating variables also usually will make better results.

    • Was thinking about this.Then I forgot to write it down.

      I also use my spotting scope in alot of situations when I’m hunting. Checking what kind of terrain is ahead of me. The surroundings and possible cover that is available if I’m trying to get closer to the critter I’m hunting.

      Really nice tool when you learn what they can do.

  4. I was doing some instruction for some new shooters as two police officers showed up on an outdoor shooting range. They asked politely to do some some test shots with two service guns they had just got: a HK MP5 and a HK P30, a 9 mm service pistol. I accepted the request – as always, I support the police in their work.

    After they were finished I asked if the guns were OK. The answer surprised me: “Both guns had major errors and needed repair. The guns had no accuracy. The shots goes everywhere on target, especially down and to the left, he said.” I knew exactly what this supposed to be mean.

    I asked if I might have a look at the guns, which they accepted. After a short inspection the guns seemed almost like brand new. I asked to do some test shots which they also accepted.

    At the distance of 18 yards I got all 10 shots inside the 10 X ring with the MP5 equipped with an Aimpoint red dot sight. With the P30 pistol I got all 10 shots within the center of the target in one big hole at 18 yards (standing, firing with my best hand).

    Then both the police officers replied very surprised: Well, it seems that both guns are all OK. We just need some more shooting exercise, they said – and then they left the shooting range.

    Conclusion: shooting down and to the left happens to everyone from time to time 🙂


    • Eddie,

      Like I said in today’s report, I saw this happen yesterday at the range. I see it happen at the indoor range I frequent, as well.

      I think the interesting thing is that the 2 cops were certain the guns were at fault and not themselves. I see this everywhere, including in my own perspective many years ago before I discovered the truth. We are so ready to assign blame rather than investigate the circumstances.

      Anyhow, now you have a new trick for your bag. Good shooting, by the way!


    • That doesn’t surprise me at all. Most folks in law enforcement aren’t shooters. They only shoot when that are payed to. Many of them could use a lot more range time and training. I have seen it for years.


      • I deal with two major Canadian Police forces (supply optics and photo gear).
        One of them told me that most police officers truly do try to resort to deadly force as a very last resort (contrary to the liberal media which portrays them all a gun crazed idiots with a license to kill).
        He said that about 15 to 20% of them are comfortable with their firearms and spend lots of hours on the range.
        But for the remaining 80% it is a chore to get them to do their required 2hr/month on the practice range.
        On the wall of my office I have a couple of targets that both myself and my sons have shot. He jokes that 80% of his officers would come out on the losing end of a confrontation with my 10 year old 😉

        • cowboystar dad
          I will start out first saying that I just have to comment. Wasn’t going to at first but…
          I mentioned this before. I use to hunt alot with my wife’s brother when we were kids (that’s how I got together with my wife of 32 yrs).
          He was a County Sheriff for years. He teaches hunting classes and gun safety classes. He also told me recently he was asked to come in and talk about guns at his daughters school. I think the school thing is cool.

          This is the reason I wasn’t going to comment. I know everybody has a job to do. And sometimes you have to do things with your job that you may not like.
          But the ones that as you say is a chore to get them to do their required time makes me wonder why they took that job ???

          And the comment about your 10 yr. old son would be something that would make me proud.
          Both of my Daughters shoot air guns and the oldest Bow and Arrow.
          They both amaze me at how good they shoot.

      • Have to agree with this from my observations. The shooting skills of the thin blue line leave something to be desired. That does kind of put a new slant on the statistic about Glocks dominating the police market. What does that tell us? I don’t know that 2 hours per month on the range can accomplish anything except remembering how to operate the gun.

        As another example, the husband of a colleague was pointed out to me by several, including his wife, as a real authority on guns. He was a hunter AND he was a cop. He wasn’t a talkative guy, but we got into a conversation where he maintained that a .357 magnum was more than sufficient power for a bear… It was a situation like may last trip where something is telling you something wrong with complete confidence. What can you do, especially when his wife is looking at him adoringly….


  5. This is a little off subject, but I wanted to address Doug’s desire for AirForce to build a 10 shot Condor SS.

    As I see it, AF’s philosophy is K.I.S.S. For AF to build such an air rifle would require them to design and build a totally different functioning and appearing air rifle. What you would likely end up with is an air rifle that looked very similar to the Marauder because to incorporate the magazine mechanism would extend the length of pull to the point they would need to either have to use a smaller bottle or move it under the barrel. It would also make the internal mechanism far more complicated.

    If you want an air rifle that is a “repeater” but shoots as well as the AirForce, take the Marauder and replace the barrel with a LW barrel. Many do this and are quite pleased with the results.

    I for one am infatuated with the AirForce line. I prefer that “form follows function” which they do quite well. Yes, they have room for improvements, mostly in their tolerances in manufacturing. This though can have a direct effect on the cost. I am aware of their shortcomings and fortunately have the skills to overcome such.

    Also the single shot function reinforces the need to make every shot count. Why should you need to reload rapidly for a follow up shot if the first shot accomplishes the task? It instills shooting discipline and encourages the proper techniques that are so important to marksmanship.

    Hey, I too have enjoyed blasting away with a belt fed machine gun. Experience has taught me that most of the rounds will miss the target though. This is why snipers are so feared.

    • RR,

      There was an active program that lasted many years at AirForce to turn their current rifles into repeaters. There are several ways to do it, but none of them worked very well and all of them turned the gun into a kludge. In the end, John McCaslin left well enough alone and went on to other things that could be done more practically, within the envelope of the current design. Hence the Condor SSS and the new trigger and safety.


      • Feinwerk this comment is not directed towards you but I wanted to make my comment post here.

        I will buy a gun for what it is. And the AirForce guns definitely have what it is. As well as the Marauder line. (quick comment also…my Marauders are great in accuracy with the factory barrels and a aftermarket barrel making accuracy better would be great also)

        But I do agree that the single shot trays for the Marauders is a benefit.

    • Since I tune and build custom air guns I see this all the time. They want me to build them something as powerful as a condor, hold more air in a smaller tank, and make it a semi-auto. They seem to think I am wrong when I tell them what they want is a physical impossibility for $300 (their budget not mine) What I can do is build them any number of powerful airguns within the limits of what is physically possible and what is available to work with. That means I can come up with at least 300 different designs. All will be as powerful as physically possible but none will be near a condor and I have not yet found the parts to make a semi-auto .22 pellet gun. But I can make them a total can shredder full auto bb gun in pistol, uzi, or ar15 look as well as build them a monster Blackbird. But I can’t make them what they say they must have. It would be cheaper for them to get a Marlin 60 than to have me reinvent the air rifle as a one off.

  6. BB,

    I hate to say this (outloud at least), but you and I and many of the commenters here are “old timers”. We are students of shooting with airguns and many with firearms. Many have forgotten more than the newer shooters know. I try to “suggest” solutions to problems other airgunners may be having if I know what the problem and solution is as opposed to “telling” them what to buy or do. It’s all part of my own crusade (and yours) of trying to improve the breed, so to speak. The way Gunsmithhunter showed the two officers that the problem was with them and not with the guns was a marvelous way of telling them they couldn’t shoot for beans. Heck of some shooting there, GSH1! Wish I could do that consistently in my 25 Yard Bullseye league but I’m getting there with Victor’s tutelage!

    As for spotting scopes – like air rifles, cameras and almost any other product, you get what you pay for. If, like BB, you need a scope to go out to 200 yards, you need good optics and expect to spend several hundreds of dollars. If like me, the scope will only do duty out to 40 yards, the bottom feeder $70 scope will suit you but even then, some .177 holes in the bull will be hard to spot, especially if your background is also black.

    Great blogs this week, BB.

    Fred DPRoNJ

    • Fred,

      I thought the same thing about Eddie’s shooting skills. I wish I could do the same, but the best I was about to do yesterday was put five round into three inches at 15 yards. They were centered in the target, but when I started sniping the target they moved low and to the left, again.


  7. Well, I don’t know if I’m sad or happy to hear your remarks on the Celestron b.b.
    I recently replaced a $150 plastic Bushnell spotting scope with a ‘much better’ $450 Celestron.
    The Celestron color fringes so bad that on a sunny, contrasty day it is far inferior to the ‘cheap’ Bushnell.
    Happy because it’s not my imagination.
    Sad because it’s new enough that I was going to take it back…likely a replacement wouldn’t be any better.

    • CSD,

      My Celestron was an $89 cheapo from China. I figured the more expensive ones like the C90 would be pretty good.

      My current scope is a $185 Burris. Normally I haver zero respect for Burris optics, but when I looked through this one I like it so much that I traded a nice gun for it. Spur of the moment thing, just to get something that works.


      • I would just like to say this.
        The optics of Hawke scopes is amazing. They don’t have that funny glare that other scopes have in different situations that I have used.
        And to me the quality of the scope compares to higher priced high quality scopes. I ain’t saying go buy one. I would say if you can go somewhere and look through one I think you would be surprised.

        Not just in the store.
        Try being in a shaded spot while the sun is shinning towards you with your target out farther in a shaded spot also and see what happens. It is hard to get the glare out. Hawke scopes are very forgiving for different light situations.

        I went down that road of trying scopes the same as learning what pellet a air gun likes.
        All I can say is scopes ain’t as cheap as pellets.

        • I too am very happy with my Hawke scopes, very clear and minimal color aberration. One thing I am confused about is why with a mil dot reticle they seem to have moa turrets. I would think they should match, but tell me if I am wrong.
          My current spotting scope is a cheap Celestron and is good out to about 75 yards. I have recently acquired a Savage varmint rifle in .223 and wish to move up to a better spotting scope. Called Hawke and they assured me that their top of the line spotting scope will be good out to 600 yards. At $800 I am skeptical to plunk down the $$$ without trying one but have been unable to find one in the Los Angeles area. Any thoughts?

          Thanks for any help!


          • Aljoh,

            I sure wouldn’t spend $800 when I could get a fine spotting scope for a lot less. The thing to do is look through the exact scope you intend buying. Try to look at 100 yards and see if you can see 24-point type clearly enough to read. Clarity is what makes a spotting scope good — not price or the brand name.

            Redfield spotting scopes have good reputations, but again, I would test the exact one I intended buying.


        • GF1

          I like the Hawke scopes too .I have six of them (five on springers) . Only have broken one. Front lens chipped on the inside (R9 did it). Five of them are the 3-9×40 that P.A. is frequently out of . Other is a 3 or 4-12×40. All with MAP6. I find them practical for reasonable airgun ranges.
          I index the A.O.s at 5 yd intervals out to the max range that I would use each rifle for hunting.
          One thing to watch for is that the adjustment knob screws can vibrate loose . Be careful of removing the caps . You don’t want the screws and knob falling on the ground . The screws are 00 Phillips it looks like. Some times the parts stick and prevent you from adjusting the knob to zero. You have to remove the knob and break the little disk loose. It fits tight in the knob, and some times does not want to freely turn when you loosen the screws.


          • TT
            Yep they are nice. I got 4 of them. Two of them are 2.5-10×44 AO Varmit rifle scopes. And the other two are the same but with 3-12×44 power. They all are the 1/2 Mil Dot recticles.

            And the other day we were talking about Follow Through and have somebody video while making shots.
            I had my Daughter video me with her phone. And yep I do make a funny face when I shoot.

            I found myself trying to keep my left eye closed real tight. When I did that my cheek muscle that was resting on the stock would kind of move the stock around. Only found that out because she was messing around moving the phone up real close to my face.

            So now I’m trying to relax my face when I shoot. It is helping but it sure is hard for me to do for some reason.

            Here is another one for you. My oldest Daughter has a laser pointer that she uses to play with the cat we have. We have a night light in the bathroom that turns on when the bathroom light turns out.

            The main light was off and the night light was on. So we were pointing the laser at the sensor and keeping the light turned out. You wouldn’t believe how much that little dot from the laser was moving around. It was very hard to keep it on the sensor.

            So guess what happened next. I put a laser I had from a while back on the 1377 with the Disco barrel. Sighted it in. We were shooting in the garage and aiming the gun using the scope recticles as the main sighting for the target. I was now able to watch what my Daughters were seeing through the scope from the laser pointing at the target. That definitely shows a lot of things about the shot setup and follow through. Going to try this out side on my 1720T and see what happens.

            I don’t like lasers but maybe one could be used as a training tool.

            • GF1

              Never thought of trying to use a laser for that, but it sure might show a lot of things. Maybe the worst of the worst situations…a panic shot from a strained position. The laser might paint a Picasso .

              Glad the camera deal showed you something useful.


                • GF1

                  I never thought of suggesting using a cell phone before. My wife has been through a bunch of them for various reasons. The built in cameras range quite a bit in quality . Some pretty bad. Then there is the problem of getting close enough for a good shot. They are wide angle and don’t focus close enough for detailed shots. But as long as you could see good enough to spot some problems, then it was worth the try.


    • I forget the name of my spotting scope. I think I got it for $125 on a bargain. It works well enough at 100 yards, but I don’t know about further distances. However, I can’t find many places to shoot over 100 yards, so it doesn’t make any difference.


  8. As for spotting scopes, I don’t shot that far, so a pair of 16x Bushnell binoculars usually suits me fine if I can’t see the hooks through the scope (sometimes 2 eyes are better than one…) The indoor range I shot at has motorized target rails, so I don’t even need them there. Outside, I can always press my Celestron C130 Maksutov into service. Not much chromatic aberration in it.

    As for targets?… Yeah, ….uhh,…. You got me there. I’m one of those who prints targets off of the internet because I go through so darn many of them at home. I do buy a full size silhouette and stick Shoot-N-See’s all over them at the range though. Shoot-N-See’s aren’t too great for trying to measure groups or to see if your bullet is tumbling.


    • /Dave,

      Oh — Shoot-N-Sees! I didn’t write about it, but that was almost Tale number 6. A guy who was at the range to shoot measurable 100-yard groups, and his targets were dozens of orange stickers stuck to butcher paper. Not only were his groups unmeasurable, many of the bullet hole were pooched back out towards the firing line. So you couldn’t even tell where the shooting was coming from!


      • BB,

        The Shoot-N-Sees are great if you just want to unload on them with a pistol at 25 yds and can’t see where the shots are landing without resorting to optics. But they are darn near impossible to measure anything on unless you’re just generalizing within a half an inch or so… The only thing worse are those horrible orange stickies. You can’t see where you hit AND you can’t measure either!


  9. At my personal range that I might be losing soon the owners of the property are a bit strange. Airguns are perfectly fine since they make very little noise. A .22 rimfire is fine since that too makes very little noise. A shotgun makes all kinds of racket but they are allowed if I wish to use one for pest hunting, which I do not like. Even my Mossberg 100 ARR chambered in .240 Winchester is ok. But let me whip out an AK47, AMD65, or an AR15 and all of a sudden it makes too much noise and it scares the chickens. Personally I do not think it is the chickens that are scared of these guns even though I use these guns for exactly the same thing I would use my Mossberg for. I like them due to the fact they don’t have a recoil like an angry mule. I take one shot with my Mossberg and I don’t want it to hit me again. I take a shot with my AK-47 and I’m perfectly fine taking another shot or two….or 30. It makes no more noise than any of my larger guns and no more than a shotgun. I have a feeling that where I shoot is owned by liberals really. Kind of a moot point since I’m in the process of bringing my collection home. I have a few more trunk fulls to go.

  10. A few years back I was working with a shooting instructor trying to break years of bad habits. I have never considered my shooting skill anything to brag about. He had been working with me a couple hours and a number of other shooters had come and gone from the indoor range we were at. We were getting ready to leave, by then it was just the two of us in the range, and he said after shooting he often likes to walk around and check out other folks targets. Since I have been doing likewise, interesting feedback.

    • The one downside to taking my Anschutz 1907 to the range is that I’m sure people are checking my targets. 🙁 But for awhile anyway, they seem to think I’m really something by virtue of having such a gun.


  11. I use my 80mm Orion ST80 refractor with a 45d terrestrial diagonal as a spotting scope when I need one. I’ve been intending to build a 50 or 60mm “monocular” to save carrying things, but 10×50 binoculars (the ones I have are very good) work well to 50 yards, at least. I am trying to convert to .40 cal. for line matches, but I miss being able to see most of my shots with the .50 cal. w/o optical aids. My Savage .22LR has a 6-24×42 scope that can easily spot holes at 100 yards, also, esp. at higher settings (my main use for more mag.).

    The lead sled looks nice. Due to ammo shortage and not wanting to waste what I have, I haven’t been doing much benchrest c/f or r/f lately, but one of those has always been on my list. I do have a “custom” chunk and cant block to go with it, though :)!

    The multi-bull 10M AR targets are great for shooting groups off the bench at 50 and 100 yards. With a .22LR, you can shoot a good while before needing to go cold and change targets.

    On the other hand, I have always enjoyed going to the range with the most claptrap setup I can piece together and shooting it as well as possible. On a good day, I’ve had people actually get mad when they see how “junk” shoots when it is shot correctly.

    • Consider — with all the money you are NOT spending on Unobtanium, you could buy that rest and be ready when ammo does become available (I actually saw five 20-rd boxes of .308Win a few weeks ago!)

  12. Going off subject, today I finally got my hands on a polymer ar15 lower. I’m truly eating my famous words “plastic has no place on a gun.” This thing is twice as tough as a standard aluminum ar15 lower. At some point this might make something good to check out with the Crosman MAR177 on it. Of course you have to mill out the fire control group but it’s not that hard. All you need is a dremel and a couple of drill bits. Everything is marked so you know what goes and what stays. Best of all the lower was only $100. What is a stripped aluminum lower going for nowadays? Looks like I can build a full AR15 for around $600. That’s cheaper than my AK47 which cost me $1200 to build.

    • An article in the recent Analog talks about 3D printers…

      One item mentioned is that someone used a 3D printer to print an AR-15 lower, fitted it with commercially available trigger group and upper. Then function tested it with around 200 rounds.

      Later in the paragraph it is reported that some California parasite ridden vermin (poly-tick bureau(c)rat) has now proposed a ban on 3D printers.

      • That’s California. They’ll ban 3-d printers out of fear that somebody will print a gun but they won’t ban drill presses which is all you need to make an aluminum ar15 lower or a dremel drill which is all you need to make a polymer receiver. They do not use common sense in that state. As it is, a 3-d printer ban will never fly since it can be argued a 3-d printer can be used for more than just turning out gun parts that are easily had and legal in several different forms without any questions asked.In fact building your own gun is perfectly legal and no state has any law that says you can’t. Even the ATF says it is perfectly fine. In fact they even give you a letter stating it is ok with the 80% receiver. Everything else is just parts that nobody regulates or cares to try.

        • Well, the California pols might as well ban 3-D printers and drill presses and destroy what is left of their high-tech manufacturing base.

          While they are at it, maybe they should ban the eyeglass lens grinding equipment, too.

          Read Tom Clancey’s “Sum of all Fears” (the book, it isn’t in the much-revised story in the movie). The bad guys in the book were using lens grinding equipment to crank out an enhanced nuke weapon.

          Then blindness can be added to unemployment.

          Meanwhile, watch out for a National Dremel Tool Registry.


          • Probably a good thing I don’t live anywhere near California then since I have all the tools, dies, jigs and other equipment to build just about any gun I happen to desire. If I was in California I bet that fact in itself would be a cause to call out the National Guard.

            Lucky for me Michigan politicians have a little more common sense. They could care less if I build 1000 guns on my equipment and could care less about 3d printers. If they did go california crazy I’d be moving in a hurry.

  13. OK maybe I’m not understanding the terminology. And no I didn’t go search it.

    But when you are referring to 3-D printing.

    Is that the same thing as Cad Cam ? If not explain so I can know.

    • This isn’t really accurate but may give you a decent mental picture of what a 3-d printer does:
      Imagine a plotter that,instead of drawing a detailed to scale picture,actually produces the part
      designed,with materials specified,within limits.Mostly polymers.

    • While you’ll need some sort of CAD software to produce the printing instructions, the actual production of the part is much different. Traditional CAD-CAM is subtractive — you start with a chunk of and mill away the stuff you don’t want… But you can’t make a hollow ball this way.

      3D printers come in different forms, for different purposes (one even uses paper — it prints an outline of a layer of the product, then laser cuts the unwanted area… repeat ad nauseum with the inclusion of smearing a layer of glue on the sheets and aligning them).

      The early “rapid prototype” systems use a bath of liquid polymer and an “elevator” support. A computer controlled laser would move over the support and zap the liquid to make it hard. When the layer is complete, the elevator would descend by a thickness, and the laser would zap the next layer (if you leave just a small drain hole, you can create that hollow ball; or create a free ball inside another ball).

      Another model is closer to an inkjet printer in operation — the polymer is extruded from tiny nozzles to build up the layers of the object.

      Some (the more commercial ones) use lasers to sinter powdered metal (GE is making one-piece fuel injectors for jet engines, where the old method took some 20 separate parts to allow for the fuel passages in the unit).

    • Or you can try this mental picture, a long time ago in a place far away, the superhero known as the Silver Surfer had his origin as an individual named Norin Raad who belonged to a race of bald humanoids with a very advanced civilization. Unfortunately, for them the super-being Galactus took a fancy to their planet to feed his eternal hunger for energy. (“You dare strike, Galactus! I am power incarnate puny god! With a thought, Galactus can melt the flesh from your bones. Or reduce you to protoplasmic slime. Leave or stay but seek not to interfere with one who can re-create you with a single whim!”) With the planet falling apart and the people in despair, Raad conceived a bold idea. In exchange for his people and his planet, he would sacrifice himself to be Galactus’s herald. Endowed with appropriate powers, he would roam around the universe seeking out uninhabited planets to feed Galactus to save him the energy of looking for them. Everyone would benefit except Raad who would be doomed to be an eternal slave. The problem was to get to Galactus to spring this idea. And now the key point. He approaches individuals in futuristic suits with his request and they say, after putting some headgear on him:

      “Merely imagine the ship that you desire, and it will appear.”

      An advanced form of 3D printing. It does manage to get Raad close enough to Galactus to propose his idea. Galactus is skeptical but he can’t deny the logic. So, he hurls Raad into a nearby sun, using it as a forge to convey immortality, invulnerability, and other skills and announces, “Norrin Raad, be reborn as the Silver Surfer”!

      The actual creation was a little more prosaic. Cartoon mogul Stan Lee recalls, “I was kind of annoyed. We had gotten an issue in the final stages and worked everything out. And when the final proofs arrived, here was a nut on some kind of a flying surfboard.” (Inserted by one of the staff.)…


  14. I’m one of those gun rich, gear poor guys and I know it’s my own fault. I tend to improvise more often than not. No range box. Instead I have my NRA duffel bag I pack with stuff I may or may not need. I have a bipod which I swap from gun to gun instead of a bag rest. I think it came with a gun package in the distant past, but it’s a good UTG bipod (or some decent brand like that). My ammo is whatever I find at the local store but I find Crosman pointed hunting pellets generally give me the results I need. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. And I might have a fold up screwdriver in my pocket along with my pocket knife. I may or may not have a few raggedy prairie chuck targets in my bag. Nature may or may not provide a moving target so I never know what might be on my range. The glorious chaos of my range!!! I am always meaning to go buy some quality optics to improve my very best guns but that never happens. I’m always busy building guns so I’m always rather broke. I might be building for somebody else or I might be building some monster for myself. So my scopes are usually what came with the gun or I swap around one or two scopes I like. Whatever I do I make it all work. Some of you like to go with all kinds of gear like gun rests, monkey bags, all kinds of optics. That doesn’t really happen for me. I’d have to lug all of that to my range which is a bit of a cross country trek so I try to keep my load manageable. That means a gun or two, maybe my hpa pump, ammo and a few light weight targets. Then I have to set up my range, so it’s never actually the same twice. No predictability just like hunting. Then of course I sit for a while good and quiet waiting to see if there is anything that I need to hunt. Then I get bored and the target range goes hot. Then at the end of the day I need to pack everything up and lug it back the way I came. So no big heavy gear for me. At this time I have pretty much lost my target range and all my guns are at home. So now I need to find a new place to shoot. Even then I need to keep the gear light since I’ll need to carry it a ways to use it.

  15. BB,
    No one else has asked about what interested me the most in this blog. Tell me about that articulating mount and arm for your spotting scope. I can see it is attached to a pipe clamp which attaches to the bench. Is the arm made for spotting scopes or was it re-purposed from another use. It’s hard to use a tripod mounted spotting scope on a bench without it getting in the way.

    One of my favorite shoots accessories is a MTM Spot and Shoot Tripod Adaptor.
    As you know, I shoot most of the time from this tripod instead of a bench. If I want I can quickly mount my spotting scope besides the rifle rest.

    Another of my favorite type of accessory are different pellet pouches that go around my neck. I almost always have a few with them with me.

    I bought a few packages of tan heavy stock copy paper and I do print my own targets. They may not be quite as good as commercial targets but they are pretty good. I have never seen my favorite targets for sale. The ones I like are ones I have found on the web.

    I am amazed at the guys that show up at shooting ranges without targets and without a way to attach their targets to the backer board. I keep a stapler and sometimes also thumb tacks for that.

    Have a good rest of the weekend,

    David Enoch

    • Hi, too, would like to hear about that spotting scope mount.

      I wear the Crosman pellet holder over my shoulder with a shoestring, inspired by Wacky Wayne.

      Self-printed targets can work just fine, but NOT with the junk 20 pound paper that inhabits the huge majority or printers. Invest in some decent, say, 80 pound stock, and laser printed targets will look great and cut clean holes. This may not be cheaper than buying a bunch of commercial 10 m targets from someplace like national target, but it allows you to have good results with your favorite Internet target.


    • David,

      Mac gave me that articulated arm for camera work many years ago. I never used it, but I hung onto it for many years. Recently I showed to to my gun buddy, Otho, who made the aluminum pieces that connect the arm to the pipe clamp. This was the first time I was able to use it at the range.

      Before this I had to set my spotting scope up on a table behind the firing line and leave my shooting bench every time I wanted to see where a shot went. Now I can just move my head to the left and see the image immediately.

      Like I told Otho, good guns will come and go, but this spotting scope will be sold in my estate sale after I’m gone.


  16. You made a very good point about using a spotting scope. My father in law and I use a no name brand from (HF) that has served use well for spotting longer range groups. Optics and trigger jobs are very important for squeezing out accurate results, but a simple spotting scope is essential to see the progress of your groups.

  17. Wow, B.B. has got me beat with this range trip. I would find it hard to stay focused on my shooting. The rich fellow reminds me of an internet comment I saw which read, “People who buy X model guns have a lot of money and not much brains.” So how do you sell a rifle that won’t group? You can’t say, “This rifle won’t group.” … I agree completely about spotting scopes and wouldn’t be without one. But I’m curious now about a point from my high school shooting days. My generally inadequate coach was a gadget freak and went on at length about how one should get a spotting scope with the eyepiece set at an angle to the scope body so that you could turn to look at it without getting out of position as you would with a straight eyepiece. I have to admit that he seems to have been right. It made sense, and it has worked well in my experience.

    I have eyed B.B.’s rests for some time. They look very stable. Is it even possible to fire a bad shot from them? They look pretty close to a gun vise.

    Speaking of growing into one’s equipment, I’ve taken another view of my Mauser 98. I’ve gotten away from my standoffishness and come to appreciate this masterpiece for what it is. As one internet commenter says, “The K98!? Be still my beating heart.” While the bolt is not as smooth as the Lee Enfield, it’s very close, and there is something in the solid lockup that tells you how strong the action is and how well made. Among my surplus rifles, it has the best combination of smoothness and solid lock-up. The ergonomics are also terrific. I’m not sure what a Wundhammer swell is, but I picture it to be the same swelling shape to the pistol grip that is also on my Anschutz with its “anatomically perfect stock.” The sights are precise once one gets used to them. And my leather sling, for all of is complications, has a heavy leather smell that was reported from people who had contact with German troops. In short, I’m there in the historical period.

    A minor point has been bugging me. I’ve heard that a safety can fail like any other mechanical device. So, hunters, for example, are encouraged not to have a round in the chamber while they are climbing obstacles. The question for me is what is the practice of soldiers in a combat zone who are not in direct contact. With the way the Garand is loaded, it looks to me like it is designed to carry a round in the chamber. And I have seen videos of German soldiers on the march, putting the safety on their K98s which can only be done when you are locked and loaded. Well soldiers are supposed to fight, and no one said that it was a safe profession. On the other hand, in Saving Private Ryan, as the Rangers set up to assault their first bunker on the Normandy beach, they are all working their actions and loading up. So, how were the soldiers supposed to be carrying their weapons? I think I would have been locked and loaded before landing at Normandy!


    • Matt,

      This is the value of having served in the combat arms. If you are making an administrative march, the weapons may be unloaded. If the march is administrative but in a combat zone, the weapons are loaded but rounds are not chambered.

      When you cross the line of departure in a movement to contact, such as the march of the squad in Private Ryan, all weapons are loaded with rounds in the chamber and the safeties are on.

      Combat is not viewed the same as hunting. The focus of safety is not on individuals, but on your situation, if that makes any sense. And, when you are moving to contact, all weapons are pointed in designated directions, so you don’t kill each other if there is an accident.

      With larger weapons, like the main gun of a tank, the weapon is not usually loaded unless there is a known target. Part of the fire command is to designate which type of round to load, which is based on the target and what you want to do to it. Since each cartridge weighs about 40 pounds or more, you want to keep your options open as long as possible. In one situation, if the wrong ammo is loaded the trick is to fire the round at the target and quickly reload with the right round.


    • Dave P,

      I means what it sounds like. When you squeeze you apply increasing pressure until the sear releases. When you pull the trigger you do it in one swift movement that also moves the gun off target. Squeezing the trigger has always been the accepted practice.


    • Dave P
      Squeezing the trigger usually means to start applying pressure to the trigger very gently.
      And the more you move it. Will unexpectedly release the shot. Good for accuracy of your shot if you do it this way.

      When you pull the trigger it tends to mean that you apply pressure abruptly. That is very bad if you want accuracy from your gun.

    • My impression has been that one is actually supposed to pull the trigger straight back using the pad, not the knuckle, of the trigger finger, without applying any side pressure in doing so because side pressure tends to pull the gun off target…which, if true, constitutes two different uses of the word “pull,” one desirable and the other undesirable.

      In order to do this with my air rifle, I find I must pretty much give up trying to grip the gun, position my trigger hand forward enough so that the trigger finger tip pad can apply only backward pressure on the trigger blade, and must then pinch rather than squeeze the trigger backwards between my finger tip pad on the trigger blade and my thumb behind the trigger guard. My trigger finger winds up bent backwards at the first knuckle during this process.

      Only get away with this because it’s an airgun and not a recoiling powder burner which would require a grip. I find no way to grip a gun while squeezing the trigger without simultaneously applying side pressure while squeezing the trigger.

  18. tell me about the low wall in the last photo. I have a liking for guns like this in most calibers . if its vintage I like… and want… while wife says no. the man with the $$$ usually wins here

    • Robert W.,

      I have owned a number of .45-70s. This one is the one I know the least well. The trigger is good and the barrel is very heavy, so recoil is way down, but I have done better with other rifles up to now. I think the bore is tight and I know the chamber is tight, so I need to develop good loads for this rifle. Then it has the potential to group quite well.

      I promised Kevin a while back that I would report on this rifle and this small inclusion in this report was the start of that.


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