I took a day off last week to head to the range, more for relaxation than for any training or learning purpose. Of course, things being as they are, I managed to learn a few things any way.
The first thing I learned is that I need to always keep a camera in my gun bag. It was a gorgeous day, and other people at the range had some really good looking guns with them, that I would have loved to documented. And, about halfway into the session, 6 men from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources enforcement division came to the range. It would have been a nice picture to have.
So, when I finished cleaning guns this morning, I dug through our collection of cameras, and found an older one, that I took this picture with. With fresh batteries, it now rests in my gun bag, ready for next time.
Second, I learned that “customer golf” doesn’t always involve golf. The guy I arranged to meet at the range is in the same line of work as I am, and in between shooting, we had some interesting conversations that could well lead to new business opportunities.
In any case, he’s had a lot more formal training that I have, both shooting, and in our line of work. I plan to make use of both cases.
Third, I learned something about long distance pistol shooting. I was doing a lot of 100 yard rifle shots with a scope, focusing my eyes on the target, overlaying the cross hairs, and making the shot. Then, I switched to using my Glock 21 for 100 yard shots, and I lazily used the same technique. In fact, it was the same technique I had to use for all my pistol shooting, before I got a contact lens for my right eye that allowed me to focus on the front sight, where I focused on the target (since it was the only thing I could get into focus) and laid the sight picture over it, in a blur.
My shots with the Glock were hitting low and left, or high and right, or full left – none were anywhere close.
Then, I remembered something I had once heard about, or read about, somewhere, and I tried it. I focused, as best I could, on the front sight, lined it up with the rear sight, and put that onto the slightly blurry target picture.
After a couple of shots to get a feel for the hold-over, my shots started hitting the target.
So, while I thought I had learned to focus on the front sight, line up the sights on the target, breathe, and squeeze the trigger smoothly, in fact, I learned to listen to everything I’ve learned before. There’s nothing new here, folks.
Fourth, I learned a few things about Vassily, my Mosin Nagant. This was the first time I got to shoot it more than about 6 shots in one session.
I have found that the trigger, which at first I disliked, is not as bad as I thought. As Colonel Cooper wrote:
The most essential element of the “shootability” of rifle or pistol is its trigger action. The ideal trigger breaks clean without telling the shooter that it is about to do so. This quality is generally referred to as “crispness” and does not refer to trigger weight. . . . A trigger may be quite light, but still “mushy” in the sense that it moves perceptibly when activated. Such movement is called creep, but it is not “take-up,” which occurs before the trigger has reached the point of ignition pressure.
I added the emphasis, because it expresses what I learned. The Mosin Nagant trigger has a lot of take-up, which I interpreted as mushiness. But, once it reaches the end of it’s take-up, it breaks cleanly. This need for this long take-up can probably be easily be understood if one imagines shooting this gun in full Russian Army gear of a heavy wool coat and thick gloves. It is doubly understood if one does so in the face of a charging hoard of the Kaiser’s best troops, or Nazis in Stalingrad, or even Finnish rebels. I now officially like this trigger.
What led to that conclusion was as much what follows, as it was due to Jeff Cooper.
One thing I like to do at the range is to place some orange clay pigeons out on the berm at 100 yards, and plink them with Captain America, my 10/22. Usually, the way this works is I shoot them in half with the .22, then shoot the shards.
I decided this trip to take aim at a pigeon with the Mosin Nagant.
I knew before now that the sights on the Mosin Nagant were very accurate, even given my untrained technique. My first shooting experience with the rifle, I had put four shots on a paper plate at 50 yards, then rung a steel sniper target four times at 120 yards.
I lined up on the top of the first pigeon and shot, and the earth exploded on the berm a half a foot above the target. So, I moved to a six o’clock hold, and shot.
The pigeon exploded.
I moved to the next target, and replaced it with a crater. And the next, and the next. Four shots on 4 inch targets from 100 yards, and four craters. For a novice, I was quite proud.
After a day of shooting .22LR, the force of the 7.62x54R cartridge was quite a surprise. Even more surprising was how easy it was to shoot accurately.
I shot up all my 7.62x54R ammo, so I will need to buy more, before I take it to a range with a longer test. But I think I know why this rifle lasted so long in service.