Sunday, July 26, 2009

Lessons from an old rifle.

When I was arround thirteen, my father passed his rifle to me. It was an ancient 22 single shot, made in Germany just after WW1, when dad was a small boy. The rifle was a light weight piece, tipping the scales at under 4.5 lbs. it was something a kid could carry all day. In fact, I often did.
I learned to shoot accurately right away. Since it took a moment to reload, and required taking my eyes off the target, I got very proficient. The front dight was also a little loose, and it would move if bumped, so the aspects of windage and compensation came early on. Okder rifles were not button rifled. The lands and grooves were far from smooth so cleaning was a regular chore.
I also learned about adjusting a trigger. Initially the trigger was loose and sloppy, but it was an easy one to tune.
I often hunted with friends, and got teased about the rifle. The only thing close was a Remington 411 scoremaster, and it was a repeater. I got good enough they shut up though. None of them have ever come close. Yes, many people have outshot me, but among my school mates, none were dedicated to becoming good. Most of the guys I hunted with had semi autos. from Ruger to Marlin, Winchesters, Remingtons, you name it.
We were poor, dirt poor. dad farmed, but he never liked it, so his heart wasn't in it. As a result, ammo was scarce. I had several jobs through school, and a good chunk of my wages went for ammo.
When I got close to sixteen, I decided I wanted a better rifle. Since my closest friend had a Marlin Glenfield, I decided that was the way to go. His was the model 60, the 18 shot tubular. After some consideration I opted for the seven shot magazine instead. I bought several extras so that I had the capacity above what my friends had.
I soon learned that my old rifle had certain advantages over the new semi auto. It was lighter, more accurate, and it forced me to take the time for accurate fire.
A year later, I was in the Army taking basic training at Little Krea, Ft Leonardwood Missouri. Again the lessons of marksmanship came calling. When we went to the rifle range, I was #2 in my company. One guy outshot me. he was the atypical hillbilly, a master shot, long lanky, soft spoken and not easily riled. He shot 39/40 to my 38/40. A side note, the Drill sergeant removed his front sight post before weapons issue, and he still only missed one.
The importance of marksmanship is becoming a lost art. today many people have semi autos. from AR-15s to SKS's Ruger Mini 14s and Remington R-25s, the trend is toward semi's. Thats not a bad thing. A self loading rifle saves time when shooting varmits. Accuracy counts though.
If you haven't trained to a one shot one kill standard, now is the time to start. Ammo is scarce these days.

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