Topics: New Shooters
Like many people, I suffer from hearing loss. Within the last year, I finally decided that I’d had enough and purchased a couple of hearing aids. I had a lot of questions about hearing aids - the first of which was why are the darned things so expensive. But after learning more about them, I see why. These are not just amplifiers; modern hearing aids are micro-computers that adjust sound levels based on computerized frequency mapping of the individual’s hearing. I can’t tell you the impact of hearing sounds that I had not heard in years (truthfully decades). It was striking and a bit overwhelming at first. It seems that a person doesn’t notice gradual declines in hearing - the daily losses are so small that you grow used to them. Then one day you realize that you’re not hearing bits of conversation and nuances of speech. You start missing out on conversations and compensating for it, then you figure out that something has to change.
Last week, I was at a writer’s conference and it was shooting day. I was on the range with a good friend and outdoor writer who’s also a really good shooter, we’ll call him Glen. He was shooting a 1911 compact with a Crimson Trace laser and having a bit of trouble. I was standing off the line and watching the bright green laser point on his target ten feet away. The laser beam would rattle around in the center of the target for a second or two and then plunge a few inches down and left as the gun went off.
I recently received a letter from a reader on the subject of long-range shooting and ballistics. I’d recently done a blog entry on zeroing rifles, and the reader advised me of some factors I failed to mention in the story. It was apparent he was much better informed about the science of ballistics than I, and I appreciated both his knowledge and his concern. Reading the email, and my subsequent response put me to thinking about something that can have a positive effect on the success of a shooter, whether for personal defense or as a hunter or competitor. Simply put, there is no substitute for mastery of the fundamentals.
Some think that life during your youth is better than it is once you gain maturity. I am not one of them. I’ve enjoyed life much more now that I have a few miles on my odometer and chips in my paint. I may not be as strong or as fast now, but I’m smarter and I know how to live. There is a down side to having some vintage on your label, though, and it relates to vision. It happens to all of us provided we live long enough. Our eyes age and the fluid in them gets a little cloudy, the muscles that shape the eye to focus get a little weaker, and the iris, the aperture that adjusts for optimum vision in different lighting conditions gets lazy.
It’s a common misconception that once a bullet leaves the muzzle of a gun, it rises. When I was a young man I simply couldn’t understand what forces of nature caused this phenomenon to occur, yet the photos in the books always showed the bullet rising up above the line of sight when the parabolic curve of a bullet’s trajectory was illustrated.
We were at the old Tarheel Gun Club, and I was sitting on the porch with Jason, a unique individual and the clay shooting club keeper, who always wore blue denim bib overalls. I was talking about the relative difficulty of the different targets in skeet shooting. The toughest targets for me were stations three, four, and five. All these are crossing targets, one each from the right and left. At that time, I didn’t really have a good handle on shooting crossers and it seemed these targets always kept me from shooting 25 out of 25. “Well,” I bragged, “at least I don’t have trouble with low house, station seven.”
So you want to take your wife to the range. You love her and you love guns, and you want her to love guns so you can have your cake and eat it too. The problem is, you expected her to say no to the range outing, like she always does, but this time, she said yes. Now what?
I have a close friend who’s a pretty good clay shooter, but his shooting suffers because of his willingness to pitch in to the gun club. He’s a co-chairman for the shotgun program, so most of his Sunday visits to the club’s five stand involve more administration than pulling the trigger. A couple of Sundays past, he signed up to shoot two rounds of five stand after the busiest part of the afternoon. He shot a perfect 25 on the first round, not the first 25 he’s shot, but a good score for anyone. On the second round, he went to the last station without a single miss.
Here's a shooting tip: if you do this one practice routine, you can learn to shoot without missing. Before we get into the secret of how to always hit your target, we need to talk physics.
I know, this is a gun blog, and you never use that high school science stuff anyway. Just hear me out for a minute…