Surrogate Shooting

A Bullseye-L email list member wrote:

"It is an absolutely perfect sunny Saturday here in Northern California. Unfortunately, my wife has the I stay home doing my best imitation of Klinger.

Would a kind soul among the BE Listers please shoot 10 rounds for me on the short line and let me know how I did by the end of the day?"

I was happy to oblige as follows.

You arrived at the range shortly after lunch. The sun was warmer but the air cooler here and it smelled of redwoods.

Several of the regulars interrupted their conversation to wave “Hello!” as you unloaded equipment. Putting on ears, you hefted everything in a single load to the line and your favorite position. The shooter on your left paused in his Slow Fire to nod a greeting. You stayed still for a moment as he raised his gun, settled in and, four seconds later (you counted), the fat “pop” of his wad load went off and the empty shell went squarely into the center of his catcher.

Probably won’t need my screen today, you thought.

Before getting anything out or ready, however, you walked over to greet the guys still talking a few yards back from the line.

“George, good to see you,” one of them said, his hand extended. You grasped his warm hand and got back the strong but rock steady grip that you knew meant “1911.”

One of them said he had a new red dot to be sighted in today. Another mentioned some test loads he had brought.

As always, the conversation drifted to other topics. Spouses, work, kids, grandkids and oil changes were all mentioned. The upcoming anti-gun legislation was also brought up but no one seemed to have any idea other than being sure to cast their vote.

You suggested, “Maybe what happened in New Orleans will help,” and everyone nodded in agreement.

Luckily, before that discussion became overly negative, the smell of burnt Bullseye distracted you as the breeze, blowing in from the targets, carried someone’s cloud of smoke across the group.

“Well, I’m gonna go shoot.” You said. “Hope one of you figures that one out ‘cause I sure do enjoy this.”

Everyone nodded in agreement before you walked back to the line and took out gun, ammunition, your two best magazines and shooting glasses. You set up your spotting scope aiming where your target would be after the next “cease fire.” Just behind your position, you found a target frame and, lo and behold, it still had a 25 yard repair center with no holes all ready to go. You smiled as this small bit of luck and, at that moment, the P.A. system crackled.

“Cease fire, cease fire, cease fire. Unload your weapons. Empty all chambers, open and step away from your guns.”

You checked to be sure your action was latched open as the gun lay on the table. All set, you stepped slightly back so the R.O. at the far end of the line could tell everyone was ready.

“Is the line safe? … The line is safe. Go forward and repair your targets. – Cover up that mess!”

Aha. From the attitude you knew who that was on the P.A. system. He’s a nice guy, solid and confident but with a dry sense of humor. Someone to rely on.

As you hiked down to the targets, you fell in next to someone you’d seen at the last league match but had not met. You introduced yourself and he did the same. He asked when the next 2700 was scheduled but you weren’t sure. You pointed to the R.O. back at the line and said, “He will know.”

“Thanks,” the other shooter said. You continued to chat as you set up your target and he repaired his but you got a quick look before he covered it up. All in the black and only a single eight, low and left. Not bad, not bad.

Back at the line you exchange email addresses.

“Is the bay clear? … The bay is clear. Shooters to the firing line. Load and fire at will. Make noise, have fun!”

You focused then completely on your firing position and what you were about to do. You loaded two magazines with five rounds each and set them, lined up, in their usual position. Picking up the gun, you grabbed the barrel with your off-hand and carefully worked the pistol into your grip, flexing your shooting fingers and getting them wrapped around the grip just right. You inserted the first magazine and, holding the hammer with your off-shooting thumb to prevent any possible hammer follow, you released the slide and chambered the first round. The slide closed smoothly, solidly and with no hint of wobble or bounce.

“Nice gun,” you almost mumbled aloud.

You looked up at your latest hand-written notes on the printed “Shot Plan” in the lid of your box and quickly reviewed the next few steps.

“Roll the trigger,” you repeated to yourself. “Keep it moving, smooth and straight to the rear.”

You took a final deep breath and raised the gun at the same time, your elbow and wrist locked into a single unit, the gun going slightly above the center of the bull. Then, you lowered the gun toward your aiming area exhaling but then you held your breath just before arriving at the correct spot on the target.

And your trigger finger started moving and you focused all your conscious attention on the aim of the gun. You felt the trigger moving smoothly to the rear and the wobble was slow and nicely centered.


You brought the gun back on target from recoil.

“Ten o’clock, nine,” you knew.

Lowering the gun, you leaned to the side and, sure enough, the scope confirmed the shot. Nine ring, not quite ten o’clock but close enough.

“Trigger finger didn’t feel quite right,” you thought. “Let’s try it just a little deeper in the guard.”

Your next shot, again called spot on, was a ten at one o’clock."

“Straight back,” you reminded yourself. “Push that trigger straight back into the grip so the harp floats in the middle of its channel.”

After three more rounds, you dropped the empty magazine, readied the next and methodically released another five shots.

After you fired the last shot, you removed the magazine and set the gun on the table. Thinking back over the ten shots, you smiled and thought, “this is a really nice day.”

Looking in the scope next, you counted the holes. “Yup, all ten are there.”

Through the scope, you started counting points in the nine-ring.

“One, two, three, four, and uhm, that one’s pretty close to the ten ring … ah, there’s a grey smudge on the ten line I can see from here. That’s a ten. So, four nines means that’s a 96 and, let’s see, one, two, three, four, five Xs.”

You straightened up and looked downrange toward the target.

“96-5,” you thought. “That’s pretty good, and just like me.”

Although you had only planned on shooting a few rounds, you decided to shoot a couple more targets. They were all in the upper 90s.

As you drove home from the range and thought about the afternoon, you looked down at the speedometer and realized you were going a good five miles an hour below the speed limit. You pushed the gas a little so you wouldn’t anger the drivers behind you.

“That was great,” you smiled.

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