Just got back for the woods with Boy and an inch of dust on the Transporter. We went target shooting with the local Troop. Shooting is now officially boring.
Due to some glitch in the works, our range master didn't show up at the appointed time, and we spent half of Saturday doing things we'd rather not do. Like throwing tomahawks. There are any number of things one can do on a Saturday afternoon, but after having heaved a five pound steel tomahawk at a tree stump from ten paces, I can tell you that I'm glad I live in the city. Because if this were considered fun in the sticks, I think I'd go stir crazy.
Jim and Bob were my two dad-pals on the trip, both are first responder sorts of guys, the kind I might have been had things gone a little different. I almost forget that when I was still living below the "LA poverty line", making less than 38,000 back in the late 80s, I seriously considered giving up my career in software and becoming an EMT. It wasn't the first time the notion struck me. Just before Y2K, I considered joining the National Guard, just to be in the loop if the poop got ventilated. Once again, Pops' most strenuous objection to anything I've ever attempted raised its hoary voice and told me that under NO circumstances should I subject myself to the depersonalization of military command. So, I packed a few canned goods, said that I'd buy a Honda generator and discovered other ways of listening in to first-responder radio. But there has always been a part of me, whether Pops likes it or not, that is responsive to his style of command and control, which he got from his father, and from the Marine Corps. There are just some things that must be done, and I admire and respect people who do it. Plus, I'm really rather ashamed that I don't know what to do in an emergency. So I really dig that my brother is a cop, and I like hanging around firefighters and paramedics and pilots and ex-military. Jim is a firefighter at the local refinery and has quite a bit of medical knowledge, Bob is certified in any number of first responder skills and is a film industry vet and polymath of sorts. He's libertarian, I'm going to see if I can drag him over to the dark side.
At any rate, Jim brought some old school rifles. He has a single shot bolt action .22 rifle from Sears that's about 25 years old, and a single shot 'crack in half' 12 gauge shotgun. He and several other of the dads have collections and were pretty fluent about all sorts of gunnery smarts. Bob says of a certain pistol, that it has exactly 38 parts and once upon a time he could field strip and reassemble that puppy in 1 minute flat. Me, I can juggle 3 rocks.
We had lots, even too much time on our hands before the dude with the firearms showed up at the range. It wasn't until 2:30 that we traveled over hill an dusty dale back in the boondocks east of Yorba Linda and Brea until we got to the newly built short range firing range. This summer the scouts had to shoot prone in the dirt under the sun. This time around, there was shade, and 10 nice benches from which to fire.
The guy passed out 10 rifles, and our range master, Brian, certified from the NRA for rifles walked us through all the rules. There were two police officers and two NRA certified personnel at the range as well as our dads, the scoutmaster and a few other responsible folks. Safety, Safety, Safety. I didn't get a good group at all. At about 40 feet my ability to hit the 11 dot target was pretty lousy. I even left my evidence there.
Like last time, about 30 bullets through, it all starts to get rather tedious. Shooting with somebody else's gun is like bowling in rented shoes or skating in rented blades. You know there's something fundamentally second-rate and funky about the entire affair. Nevertheless, there's also a bit of a thrill casting off hot brass when you work the bolt, even on tiny little rimfire 22 caliber bullets. We had one misfare with the shotty near the end of the day, and a few of the kids were hesitant about shooting, but other than that it was all uneventful. much to everyone's relief and satisfaction.
The kick of the shotgun worked me right into the rhythm it looks like on TV. There wasn't much too it. I can see how that might become boring as well. But for the most part, popping off 50 rounds was a real blast, even though I couldn't hear with the plugs, see with the eyeshields or line anything up reasonably with the sights on my generic 22 rifle. The difference between rifles must be enormous and I'm really thinking that what I want to do is snipe. Scope, tripod, match ammo. I feel the desire for greater precision, much much greater.
As a father-son thing, I'd have to say that target shooting rates rather low on the camaraderie scale. You basically have to pay attention to the shooting, and not the person next to you. I think hunting and fishing would top this. Plus, it's no place for a dog. You gotta have a dog for it to be that great. As well, the gearhead in me is not satisfied by this outing, but a lot of curiosity has been. Rifle shooting with 22s is an order of magnitude more safe, I would say, that shooting of .45s from a pistol. But the big brass and booming makes the pistol more fun. So I gotta get a little more caliber and a little more optics and precision in my next outing. Hopefully sooner, rather than later.