Sunday, October 11, 2009


When I was around 10-12 years old, my Dad bought a new deer rifle... a Winchester Model 1894. I can't remember if I ever shot it back then. If I did, it was probably only once. I was a very small kid, and even a 12ga was more than I could handle without fear of recoil.

After he died about 16 years ago, my mom arranged for a family friend to take custody of his guns. Last year, I was able to make arrangements to have them returned to me. The friend had kept them in pretty good condition. They needed some cleaning and removal of long-expired gun oil, but there was no "bad" damage due to age nor neglect whatsoever.

I started shooting his Ruger 44Mag a few months back, and have since developed a nice soft load I can enjoy shooting occasionally. It's a massive gun with a mile-long barrel... a bit larger than my hands can control for too long, but it's a fun range toy every month or so for a few shots.

Today I decided it was time to shoot his 30-30, possibly for the first time in nearly 15-20 years. I didn't even know where to start on different bullet specs for it. A gun store employee I trust asked about my goals for the rifle, and I replied it was just for some quick enjoyable shooting. He suggested some Remington 150gr rounds, advising they'd be easier on my shoulder than some of the other rounds normally used for hunting.

I admit there was a bit of boyhood fear in me as I raised it up... would it hurt like that old Browning 12ga did? Did I look like an idiot, standing there shooting offhand, without even a sling to steady my shot? Was the scope (apparently mounted upside down long ago for reasons I can't determine) even remotely still close to accurate?

I put the target around 10 yards, set up on the iron sights... slow squeeze... wham-thud hits my shoulder. But apparently I have grown up a bit over the years - it wasn't scary nor painful... it was a pleasant hard-push recoil, if such a thing makes sense. The bullet had hit somewhere around the "X" - and honestly I was just pleased I hadn't missed the paper entirely.

I decided to try the scope on the next shot... and this time, I've no idea where the bullet went, as the paper was undamaged. I smirked at myself, fully confident the problem was with the shooter. So for the final 3 rounds, I pushed the target to the range limit at 25 yds, and scoped the X. 3 Careful slow shots, and I had about a 4" group.

Great marksmanship? Definitely not. But highly enjoyable. I decided to keep the other 15 rounds in the box, for a time when I can more properly shoot the rifle on an outdoor range.

It was a good day of shooting.


Mark Miller said...

Where in greater Cincy can you fire bottleneck rounds indoors?

thorn said...

Oooo - there's your problem. You're trying to shoot in CINCINNATI. ;) Check this post for where I go shooting:

It's about a 15-20 minute drive (at most) from Newport on the Levee.

FatWhiteMan said...

I just ordered dies for my Dad's old 30-30. With those I can now load for everything we have.