Sunday, August 5, 2012

Robinhood's Blind Cousin

Today I made another trip to the Punderson State Park archery range.  I'm still not good enough to shoot the course there, so I just hung at the 20 yard target on the practice range.  I think I am improving.   I mounted a paper pistol target as an aiming point.  Some of them were fairly close to the bullseye, but more importantly I was able to hit at least somewhere on paper about 80% of the time.  Here's one of my better sets.  For reference, I believe that bullseye is 2 inches in diameter.

Accuracy still needs some work but my consistency is definitely improving.  For instance, I managed to robinhood one of my arrows accidentally.

Regular arrow, and robinhooded arrow.
I wish I could say this happened in the center of the bullseye, but it was actually a good foot and half off the paper.  I just happened to send 2 wild shots in my six shot set to the exact came place.  I heard a metal on metal sound and saw my arrow bounce away from the target.

My target did end up with lots of adjoining holes--just not in the red.   I still have work to do, but there is hope.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Expanding into Archery

While I think it will be a long time until I'm bored shooting firearms, I have been feeling the need to expand my range of skills.  To that end, I dug back into my past and remembered how much fun shooting a primative bow and arrow was.  I just had to try it again.

So, I've recently picked up a simple recurve bow--Fuse Focus 62 inch 24lb.   It isn't an expensive, serious hunting bow, but it isn't just a plastic child's toy either.  So far I've been happy with quality.  It is wood with nice brass accessory taps.  It easily breaks into three pieces plus the string for storage or transport.

The temptation was to get a bow with a higher draw weight.  That would have provided more power and a flatter, faster flight for the arrows.  However, the major downside to bows stronger than about 25lb is you have to start spending more money on targets.  A high poundage hunting bow will send an arrow right on through a basic practice target.   Besides, half the fun is trying to account for the arc of the arrow.  With a lower power bow the distance required for gravity to become significant is far less.

This was my third trip out.  Once to the fine range at Punderson State Park and twice to some private land.  On this day, I was just at private 20 yard range.   I still need to get better before I can take advantage of the challenging course available at Punderson and it is nice to not have to worry about a crowd.

As you can see from the picture below I am starting to get the hang of it.   Most of the time, I'm now able keep all of the arrows at least somewhere on the target, and this particular 6 shot set yielded 2 bullseyes.

Double Bullseye

I also took the opportunity to do some more shots with my mini-cam.  This is my second, an 808 #16, that replaced the #11 which suffered an unfortunate laundry accident.  Tiny electronics are very easy to lose track of.   You can see a couple point of view shots below if you don't suffer from motion sickness.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Breaking out the rifle again.

As is my tradition, I got lucky and picked an amazingly beautiful day to take off work--weeks in advance.  Sunny, dry, mid-70s.  It dosen't get much better than this in Ohio--or anywhere. 

For my day off, I made a trip to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Grand River Wildlife Area shooting range in West Farmington, and spent the afternoon getting to know may Savage .308 Win and .17 HMR again.  I really love Savage, they make amazing bolt action rifles.  In someone else's hands they can be very accurate. 

Behind the shooting line at the ODNR Range
Below is my first target sheet of the day at the 100-yard range.  My very first shot was the bullseye on the lower right hand target.  Unfortunately, my shots didn't improve from there.  My first shot was my best shot.

One of the interesting phenomena at ranges is that the animals can become completely desensitized to gunfire.  Birds, rabbits, ground hogs, you name it.   As long as they know they aren't the target, they are fearless.  Take this redwinged blackbird who was just hanging out as an example.

This was a fine way to spend my day off, and I hope to do it again before too long.  With luck, I might get in some pistol shooting this same weekend.

Monday, April 9, 2012

And the prize for smallest no guns sign goes to...

I saw this at Pizza Hut during my most recent (possibly last) visit. They have the world's smallest no guns sign. Sadly here in Ohio these still carry the force of law. Come on Pizza Hut, throw me a bone here. If you don't allow guns, post a real sign.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Sure Site target hangers

Yesterday way a beautiful day.   To enjoy it, I took my new target system out for a test drive.

The key to this setup is the Sure Site clay target hangers.  They are little plastic clips designed to fit over a 3/8th inch dowel or rope on one end and a standard clay bird target on the other. 

Unlike some of the other target systems I've seen, they seem to have accepted the fact that anything in the target area will get destroyed.  So it is better to have something cheap and replaceable than something that attempts to withstand bullets.

That said, they do seem to be adequately durable.  They handled the stress of the clay breaking repeatedly quite well and were only destroyed when actually hit.  I only destroyed 2 of them in my 2 hour long shooting session. That's about $1 worth of them, which doesn't compare badly to the other expenses involved in shooting.

The rest of the setup consists of 2 small shepard's hooks and 2 3/8th inch dowels bought at Lowe's along with some nylon rope.  It has been a while since my camping instruction so I had to look up some good knots to use.   Bowline knots for the attachment to the shepard's hooks and Alpine Butterfly knots for wood dowels provided a good system of loops that wouldn't slip or collapse.

I do recommend having several spare wooden dowels handy.   One of them was destroyed and the other was not unscathed.  I did both some 22LR and 9mm pistol shooting.  My 22LR session had one impressive but accidental shot.   I managed to put hole clean through the 3/8th inch dowel without breaking the dowel.  I was able to keep using it without it dropping the clays.  At least until it suffered another direct hit.

I doubt I'll ever do that again.

It was a good day, and I do recommend this setup for hours of shooting fun.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Longish Range Shooting

My first rifle shooting trip of the season was something new and exciting for me. Until now I haven't really done any shooting at all past 100 yards. Sadly, that's about the most that can be done safely around my home due to flat land and limited facilities at the public ranges.  Recently, a friend and I were allowed access to some land in southern Ohio where the terrain is filled with natural backstops and elevation changes severe enough to provide a thorough cardiac workout.

To make full use of this unique geographically optimal opportunity, I invested in some steel targets from Big Dog Steel.  I had never shot steel before and this seemed like an ideal chance to try it out.  We had day of perfect weather.  It was almost too warm.  You don't see temperatures north of 70F in March very often around here.

Below you can see a view of the target 200 yards away from my shooting position.  We later tried 300 yards as well.   Even 200 yards seemed a whole lot further away than I expected.  You can see tiny white dot in the center of the picture.  That's a target roughly 8x12 inches.

The steel targets made a satisfying delayed ping when hit by a high powered rifle round, and provided exactly the experience I had eagerly anticipated.  As you can see below the AR500 hardened steel plate shook off the .308 Win and 30-06 rounds with hardly scratch.  The paint was taken off, but the surface was still almost smooth to the touch.

However, we soon stumbled across the little secrete that no one seemed to mention about shooting steel targets.  While the targets themselves are as close to indestructible as anything made by man, the hardware and apparatus used to suspend them from the ground are clearly not.  The point of shooting steel from so far is that fact that you get a ping for a hit and nothing for miss.  So the fact that misses happen seems to be implied, but no one seemed to mention the potential of equipment destruction from my research online about steel shooting.

Below you an see the effect of a 30-06 round on the lesser hardness steel of the Big Dog Steel folding target hanger.  Surprisingly, still held the target with minimal sway even with one side totally compromised.

We also managed to cut 2 of the chains and destroy a bolt head. Luckily, this was not completely unforeseen. I had bought 2 of the target stands "just in case," so we were able to continue shooting.  Still at roughly $60 a hanger, if I do this sort of thing regularly I may look for a more economical system for hanging the targets.  I had thought that because of the round surfaces on the chains and rods of the steel hanger system, that it would survive at least a few hits with less than total damage.

I've seen sawhorses used for this purpose, but I imagine those are even less fun to drag hundreds of yards over hills.  Everything has a trade-off. I would be interested to see if ropes instead of chains and bolts could be used.  But, they may not survive the stress of the plate being impacted.  Even the bolts and chains which were not hit showed noticeable signs of stress.  The amount of force involved on the wrong end of a high powered rifle is hard to fathom.   Though I found the equipment failures interesting and a little surprising, it didn't negatively effect the trip.

My first foray into long range shooting was amazing.  This is first time time ever had to compensate for gravity or even consider thinking about wind.  This trip was more fun than I've had in along time, and it will probably be quite a while before I can find a way to top it.  I hope to try it again someday.

(And yes, I backdated this blog entry a bit.)

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Epic mud

I visited the ODNR hand trap range yesterday to take advantage of the unseasonably warm weather.  It was a sunny warm day, perfect for shooting.  However, I failed to anticipate the amount mud at the range.  It was epic.  What does epic mud look like?  Keep scrolling to look at the pictures below.  On the safe side of the firing line there wasn't a patch of dry ground to be found.

I had a good day shooting.  I don't keep actual score, but I'd estimate that I was hitting the single targets 80% of the time and doubles about 40%.   Since I was shooting alone, I had to launch the targets with my foot launcher.  The mud added some extra challenge to my balance.  I'll have to come up with a better plan for the mud next time.

I am tempted to contact the ODNR to see if they have ever gotten a quote for added some drainage, concrete pads, or packed gravel.   Perhaps a fundraiser would get this range in far better shape.

Oh, and here's some more mud.  What a mess.