Telling on myself

Monday, November 9, 2009

I collect stories. I particularly like true stories of things that I have actually happened to people. The incidents might be funny or strange or just mildly unusual, but I like them because they underscore how whacky real-life can be. I hope you will share some of your stories, but to get the pump started, here are a few things that have happened to me while airgunning.

A close encounter of the curious kind. Not long after I first began testing and writing about airguns, I was sitting in the front yard, shooting an HW97 with a huge scope mounted on it. I was concentrating on trying to complete a few shots in the fading light when my wife stuck here head out the front door to see how I was doing.

Suddenly she began laughing.

“What?” I said.

“You have an audience,” she replied.

“What do you mean ‘an audience’?”

“Very carefully, look to your right,” she said.

Slowly I turned my head and looked across the lane that divides our property. There, standing on a small ridge not 80 feet away, three deer were peering through the trees, intently watching me with all the curiosity of young children.

I wondered what they were thinking. We’re they talking in muffled deer whispers about me? “Jeez, Marge, do ya think he’s a good shot?” “I dunno. If he is, we better get oughta here.”

The buck stops here. One spring I was in the side yard, shooting at a bout 20 yards with a PCP air rifle with a high magnification scope mounted. As I peered down range for my first shot, all I saw was a blur. I tried twisting the focus ring on the scope all the way out. No improvement. So then I tried turning the focus all the way in the other direction. Still all I saw was a blur.

I lifted my head, looked over the scope, and found a beautiful 4-point buck standing between me and the target. He stood there looking at me. “Get out of here!” I yelled. No response. “Git! Shoo!” Nothing. Finally, I turned my back on the deer, whistled Dixie for a few seconds, and when I turned back, he was gone.

The awful truth about the common denominator. I usually shoot “Ok” most of the time, but every shooter will occasionally have an off day. One day, I learned that lesson Big Time.

I was testing a spring-piston air rifle that is known for its accuracy, but no matter what pellet I tried, I couldn’t get to group better than 1.5 inches at 30 yards for a 5-shot group. I came storming into the house using several of the more colorful short words to peel the paint off the walls: “Those blinkety-blink springers are more trouble than they are worth! Why, you’d be lucky to hit the broadside of a barn from the inside. It’s a wonder that anybody shoots them. You must have to be some sort of savant to get them to behave . . .” and so forth.

Teed-off to a fare-the-well, I grabbed my .22 caliber Career precharged rifle which was a known tackdriver. I charged back out to my range, put up a fresh target, and fired five shots for a group with the best pellet for that gun. I walked up to the target and found I had gotten the same result as with the springer.

“What, have all my airguns gone to blazes?” I asked the empty range. Then I realized that the one common denominator in this experiment was the nut behind the trigger: me. Some days, it’s just plain your fault that the shooting is not going well. Along those line, Brian Johnson, a very gifted shooter, once said to me, “When I miss, I assume it’s my fault, not the guns.” That’s excellent advice.

If you feel like telling on yourself, I’d love to hear your interesting airgunning story.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

– Jock Elliott

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