Wednesday, November 18, 2009

zen of the rifle

Prior to Blogorado, (and aside from plinking with a 10/22 at an indoor 50 ft. range) I had shot rifles twice - once at Appleseed and once at my friend Heath's farm. I don't really know anything about zeroing, windage, clicks, or elevation...

I just know I love to shoot. Or rather, I love everything that leads up to pulling the trigger.

(the view through the scope. The target is in the upper left quadrant.)
That barrel was so small and so very far away, even through the scope. I was told it lasered in at 970 yards - but all I knew was that it was somewhere out there on the horizon and I wanted to hit it with a bullet. Somehow.

I tried to get my breathing under control as I searched for my target through the scope. I watched my own heartbeat make the crosshairs dance. I tried to touch the rifle without really touching it. I willed myself into stillness.

(me at Blogorado, shooting the M24, 970 yards)
I exhaled. Readjusted. Ignored the wind that had been plaguing my shooting all day. Tried to find that moment when you know you should squeeze the trigger.

And missed.

I remember watching my first shot send up a big plume of dust somewhere low and to the right of the barrel.

I sighed and began my meditation again. Just me, the rifle, the wind, and a steady slow movement of one fingertip. I sent the last 4 shots through the barrel. Direct hits.

OldNFO told me later that I took too long making my shots and in retrospect, I suppose it's true...I could have stayed out there all day, savoring the process. There is great peace to be found on the high plains, the warmth of the setting sun on your face, waiting for that moment of hush behind a rifle.


Joe Huffman said...

You may not really know it but you want to attend Boomershoot. 700 yard targets smaller than a piece of notebook paper that let you know you hit them by making the ground shake.

Lorimor said...

Rifles... gotta love 'em.

Aaron said...

There is nothing wrong with taking your time when doing something for the first time.

Michael said...

One perfect shot. A samurai archer would live his entire life in hopes of one day making one perfect shot. Bows, rifles, it’s all in the mindset. . . Glad you could experience it.

ditto said...

Great picture through the scope!
So your first shot was used for ranging.....

Love the ponytail.

So is a gilley suit in your future?

Farm.Dad said...

On this I disagree with NFO . You took exactly the time you needed to make the shot , and the results speak for themselves . Had you taken too long you would have chased the crosshairs and missed . With time and experience comes smooth and smooth is fast .

reflectoscope said...

I agree with Farm.Dad; find what works for you, and watch as patient turns to smooth turns to quick.

Great job getting the picture through the scope, too.


Mad Saint Jack said...

Hmmm. Boomershoot, NoVA blogmeet.

When do hire a press agent to handle the World Breda Tour?

Old NFO said...

I stand by what I said :-) When you take too long, you DO start chasing the scope... That is why when you call target, the spotter normally says send it within 3-5 seconds. Your first miss was NOT your fault, the wind had changed slightly from when I was shooting, so after your miss (which was close) I adjusted the scope to bring you on target. You did the rest!

Buckshot said...


I agree, to a degree, with BOTH Old NFO and Farm.Dad.

You probably WERE shooting much slower than a trained sniper with a trained observer (they train together just like a fighter pilot and GIB). But you are NOT a trained sniper, those were your first REAL rifle shots at any distance as you said.

I also agree with Farm.Dad in that you apparently DID NOT take longer than you needed to get the shot off and get back "in the ZONE" for the next one.

Remember, and put it into perspective once in a while, that 970 yard shot (awsome in and of itself) is also 0.551 MILES!

And you are 4 for 5 at that distance with a little help, it sounds like, on the scope.

I KNOW that you can go back over Appleseed learning now and apply the IMC (inches, minutes, clicks) on that shot.

At 970 yards one minute of angle is 9.7 inches. With a little more experience Old NFO could have told you to apply X windage or Y elevation on the scope and had YOU make the corrections between the miss and the hit, and it would WORK! You have all ready proven the hard part! You CAN shoot it.

Also remember that you are only 30 yards short of what you would have been shooting at full distance on Viale Range at Camp Perry, which is 1,000 yards. IF you can do it at 970 yards, and you have proven you can, you can do it at 1,000 yards also.

Keep it up. Try everything you can, any time it is offered. They may have given you some flack over the M14, but you shot it, then stepped back up and shot it again.



Fred said...

So what rifle are you gonna buy for yourself?

skipelec said...

Mrs. B.
You would love a Savage FE10 out of the box.
$700 and another $700 for the scope and $200 for the bipod.
Oh wait...the city prolly won't expense that, damn.
Tell ya what. I'll help ya start a donation fund to get the Brendaloution rifle armory going.
Readers, any takers?

Earl said...

Nicely shot, very nicely written and shared. Thank you very much.

Old NFO said...

Buck, point is well taken, I was trying to 'simplify' it for her as the scope dope is another whole bag of worms to try to teach :-(

I just wanted folks to 'enjoy' the sensation!

Farm.Dad said...

NFO was a hell of a coach for all the shooters who stepped up to the rifle. I really enjoyed watching his calm competence infuse the new shooters to the point that what many would consider tough shots became routine hits .

Did it MY way said...

Loved the post. Keep shooting. New rifle in the future?

Rick R said...

When asked what you did, just tell them you went 4 out of 5 at HALF A MILE!

Joe Huffman said...

Don't sell her short--half a mile would only be 880 yards!

Buckshot said...


No, no Savage.

She need s nice M1 from the CMP North Store. A handpick since she and Mike are so close (relatively) and know the way!

Once we get her shooting distance with irons THEN she can go to glass later!


Buckshot said...

Old NFO and Farm.Dad,

Not picking on either of you in any way with my comments.

Getting 4 of 5 on target at that range is more than a trick, it takes a skilled shooter AND skilled coaches plus some skill on range layout.

Darned good work on BOTH your parts as well as Breda's shooting.


JPG said...

An outstanding performance by Breda and a couple of her sisters-in-arms. I must comment that OldNFO is a superior coach AND firearms procurer. Not only did he set up a superior rifle/optics system for all comers to try out, he made all the necessary adjustments. Additionally, he provided some, what? two buck-a-shot ammo perfectly paired to the rifle. I took two warm-up shots at the 500 yard target (HANDGUN target for MattG and LawDog, thankyew)and then settled on the half-mile barrel.

Once I indicated ready and he said send it, just over a second later came the satisfying tink. For me, it was only elementary application of the basics, and a half-century of practice. Three in a row was plenty. Honesty compels the admission: my success was entirely a result of OldNFO's generous arrangements. Thank you sir.

og said...

Scopes are nice. Ringing the bell over iron, though, that's the fun bit. Getcha an old K11 or K31, and shoot that out at those ranges. It's a hoot, and man, does it ever feel good when you ring that bell.

Old NFO said...

JPG- I didn't pull the trigger for any of y'all :-) I just set up the 'toy' and let y'all play... I enjoyed the smiles too, that was worth every penny of the ammo costs!