As time has passed, and I have taken that .357 to the range to get practice it is amazing how much I have learned about firearms and how much more I have to learn.
I have taken the time to read about guns - how they are made, of what materials, about different loads, things like that. I read Xavier's blog every day. I have read a lot about guns.
I sent my serial number for my revolver in to Roy Jenks who informed me that my self defense weapon was made in 1979 and was originally sent from the factory to Denver, Colorado. There are a lot of miles on my Model 13-2!
As I read more and more about the wonderful revolvers Smith and Wesson made I, on occasion take my 27 year old one out and just examine it. Bull barrel. Recessed cylinders. Pinned barrel. Fully adjustable rear sight. Things I never knew about before but now I know are prized. I have bought several other guns since that one, but that was my first and I will never let it go. My first gun - and I was 34 years old.
Fast forward to today. I now own the following:
- That original S/W model 13-2
- A Smith and Wesson model 17-2 made in 1969 (one year younger than me!) with target hammer and trigger
- A Remington 870 Wingmaster shotgun made in the late seventies
- A new Ruger model 77 rifle in .22LR
- A new Ruger Mark 3 Hunter in .22LR
- A HK USP .45 Compact with Stainless Steel Slide
So that is my family of guns. I am done purchasing guns for now, except for the possible Ruger Single Six in .22LR if one jumps out at me. It is time to become very proficient at using these weapons. Practice, practice, practice. I have a pistol range not far from where I work - and they will be seeing me a lot in the next few years with my Mark 3 (my favorite target handgun) and my rifle. I have the rifle scoped with a very nice Leupold.
In the back of my mind I always am preparing for doomsday. I fear a dirty nuke or just some kind of terrorist plot unhatching and I will be ready. Terrorists take over the school where my kids are at? Good luck holding me back. I may die, but many of them will go with me. Dirty nuke and you come to my house to try to steal food or water? Good luck to whomever that may be. They will not get far. Random criminal tries to hassle me in the early morning when I am at work alone? Good luck to them since I have my .45 ready to go in my desk. Some call me nuts, I call myself prepared.
Target shooting seems to be my call. It is very enjoyable to me and very relaxing. It is a challenge trying to improve my form and shooting skills to hit that bull every time. To boot, the .22LR I use is cheap and doesn't beat me up like a .45 or something larger.
But I need goals. That is why I recommend the NRA qualifications. You can select one or many disciplines to qualify in and then purchase your own awards at the site. The best part is that it is on the honor system! And you don't have any time limits or pressure on you. I have begun to qualify in several categories now and am making a nice display case for my office to show off the patches and medals I have earned.
Unfortunately (or fortunately) I am very busy with business and family. I looked at my NRA Qualification guidebook to see if I could get any awards without going to the range. What is this? Air Rifle? Air Pistol? I used to have a BB gun when I was a kid and remember shooting coffee cans. Interesting. So I started to do more reading.
Most Air Pistols that are used in international competition only shoot 500 feet per second. Many Air Rifles do too. I was on my way. I bought a pellet gun, this Crosman Revolver Kit. I also bought a pellet trap - this one. So now I can practice my shooting ANYWHERE I have a ten meter distance. It is quiet and relatively harmless. All you need are some newspapers or a heavy blanket for a backdrop in case you miss the pellet trap - and you will at first.
What fun! Shooting pellets did indeed improve my aim at the real range and I have new goals to pursue through the NRA qualifications program. But the qualifications for the Air Pistol are difficult! I was stuck at Marksman. And that Crosman Revolver literally fell apart. What did I expect for $90? I was down on myself a bit, not knowing it wasn't me, it was the crappy gun.
It appears I needed the right tool for the job. I now have it. This week I got my new Baikal IZH-46M:
This thing is impressive! It cost $300 but at that price is four times cheaper than match grade air pistols of this type. Maybe they have some cost advantage where it is made - Russia. Baikal also makes shotguns and other real firearms.
It is no toy. Every part on it is made of steel or some other sort of metal - no plastic! The grip is made of wood. This pistol is a single shot, single pump model. The lever you see at the bottom swings out, and that makes the chamber where the pellet goes pop up so you can load it. There is zero recoil, unlike my crappy Crosman.
The only real complaint I have about it is the grips are made for someone with small hands. I think this may be on purpose - most high end air pistols of this type are made with the expectation of the end user modifying the grip in some fashion, whether they are puttied up or sanded down. I have some sanding to do on mine.
This thing is ACCURATE. I instantly blew away the Marksman First Class qualification THE FIRST TIME I SHOT IT, after I dialed it in. If you are grouping high or low, left or right, the pistol has knobs on it that are clearly marked which way to turn them to correct your sight picture.
I look forward to many years of shooting this thing anywhere I can get a ten meter lane.
If you want to improve your shooting, I highly suggest the NRA qualification program. If you live in an area where there is not a range close by, try pellet shooting. It will help you on the real range - it has helped me immensely and it is just plain fun!