The Aviation Collection

Sportsman’s Vintage Press is proud to announce a new line of books: The Aviation Collection

The Aviation Collection launched today with an initial line-up of ten titles with more titles planned for release throughout the rest of the year. The books are available for purchase directly from The Sportsman’s Vintage Press website or from Amazon.

The Aviation Collection is ideal for aviation enthusiasts, engineers, or mechanics and is a vital part of the reference library for anyone undertaking the construction of an amateur built experimental aircraft. Many of the books in this Collection come from the heyday of the amateur built aircraft and are especially well suited for the experimental aircraft library.

Though nominally old, the books of the Aviation Collection are still relevant to the field of aircraft construction and engineering. Planes from this era are not only still around, but remain some of the most popular aircraft in the sky today. Piper Cubs and Supercubs, Taylorcrafts, Ercoupes, Cessnas, and Aeronca Champs are all as popular today as they ever were and are all from the same era as these books. Likewise, the engines used in these aircraft such as the Continental O-170, O-190, and O-200 remain the backbone of the aviation engine market and can be dated to the same years as the books in this Collection.

We are also pleased to announce that Drake’s Aircraft Mechanic Series is available in its entirety as part of The Aviation Collection. Drake’s Aircraft Mechanic Series was written in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s and is comprised of seven books, each covering a different aspect of aircraft construction, repair, and maintenance. Written both for the layman or the experienced mechanic, Drake’s Aircraft Mechanic Series was designed to help the reader pass the test to become a licensed aircraft mechanic (which was then administered by the Civil Aeronautics Administration, or CAA). The series covers wooden aircraft construction, welding, sheet metal work, engines, electrical systems, hydraulic systems, instruments, and repair and maintenance of all aircraft components. These books are written simply and in non-technical terms and are profusely illustrated. They are fit for both novices and experts in the subject.

Whether you are building your own experimental aircraft or learning to repair and maintain factory built aircraft, or if you are simply an aviation enthusiast, the Aviation Collection by Sportsman’s Vintage Press will make a great addition to your library.

The initial ten titles of the Aviation Collection are as follows:

Aircraft Construction Handbook by Thomas Dickinson

Aircraft Sheet Metal Work by C. A. LeMaster

The Aircraft Apprentice by Leslie MacGregor

Aircraft Woodwork by Rollen Drake

Aircraft Welding by Rollen Drake

Aircraft Sheet Metal by Rollen Drake

Aircraft Engines by Rollen Drake

Aircraft Electrical Systems, Hydraulic Systems, and Aircraft Instruments by Rollen Drake

Aircraft Maintenance and Service by Rollen Drake

Aircraft Engine Maintenance and Service by Rollen Drake

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The Aspiring Hunter Part II: My Small Game Rifle—The Browning BL-22

Bl-22 and squirrel

The rifle is arguably the most important piece of equipment to the hunter—with a possible exception allowed for the equipment which sits between the hunter’s ears.

Finding a rifle that suits your body and shooting style is paramount to placing your shots accurately and having a good day at the range or in the hunting field. Rifle action, length of pull, type of sights, and trigger pull must all suit your preferences. This intensely personal nature of the rifle is probably one reason that debates rage year round all over the internet about the best hunting rifle. It is impossible for me to prescribe which rifle is best for someone else; all I can do is describe my rifle and my preferences and hope that the information is valuable to others.

The rifle that I use to hunt small game is a Browning BL-22 Grade I—a lever action rifle chambered for the .22 Long Rifle, .22 Long, and .22 Short. I have owned this rifle for about three years now and have used it to bag my first (and only) squirrel.

Prior to owning the BL-22 I owned the now discontinued Marlin 925, also chambered for the .22 Long Rifle. The Marlin was my first gun and I never did take it hunting. The Marlin was a decent gun—it was affordable, comfortable to shoulder and shoot, and was plenty accurate. I sold it for the sole reason that I am a left handed shooter and the Marlin was a right handed bolt-action rifle. I was initially unfazed by this, but as time went on I got annoyed with reaching over the receiver with my left hand to work the bolt and I never got the hang of using my right hand (the one that supports the fore end of the rifle) to reach back and work the bolt.

When I began the search for the rifle that would succeed the Marlin 925 I debated between getting a left handed bolt action rifle and a lever action rifle. At the time—and I believe it is still the case—that the only left handed .22 bolt actions are the CZ 452 (either Lux or American) and the Savage MK II series in a variety of configurations. I have never been one for synthetic stocks, thumb-hole stocks, and the like, so the only Savage MK II for me would be the GL model, which comes with a simple wood stock and iron sights.

I have never had much interest in auto-loading rifles so I never even considered one as a replacement for the 925. Besides, many states don’t allow hunting with a semi-automatic rifle and I had plans to take up hunting.

I eventually ruled out the bolt actions because I have always been a sucker for the Old West and Western movies, so the lever action guns are a natural fit. Additionally, if I ever took my right handed friends shooting they would be able to comfortably shoot a lever action, but not a left handed bolt action rifle.

It is worth mentioning at this point that I was looking for a new rifle, not a used one. Used guns have a lot to offer over new guns and I will admit it was a questionable tactic to look only at new guns, but I am unabashed in my preference for things which are new and shiny, so I limited my search accordingly.

The next step was to determine which lever action .22 was best for me. The choices at the time were the Henry rifle in a couple of configurations, the Marlin 39A, and the Browning BL-22.

First to be eliminated was the Marlin 39A. New Marlin 39As were, and continue to be, rarer than a hen’s tooth and quite pricey. Furthermore, at the time Marlin was receiving streams of negative reviews about their quality control after their recent acquisition by Remington. I would still like to have a Marlin 39A, and hopefully they will appear on shelves again someday soon. (For the record, my recent internet surfing indicates that Marlin quality control is back at acceptable levels)

The Henry offers good value in a lever action rifle and my reason for passing on the Henrys is not really a good one. Henrys look good and I hear they shoot very well too, but the sticking point for me was the use of a  painted/coated “alloy” receiver cover instead of a blued carbon steel one (I put alloy in quotes because I am aware that steel is itself an alloy, but the Henry alloy is composed of non-steel components). I am sure that the receiver covers on Henry rifles are perfectly adequate, but I prefer blued steel when I can get it, and I think knowing the receiver cover was coated or painted or whatever instead of blued would have eventually drove me mad. And when I handled the Henry back-to-back with the Browning BL-22, I felt there was no doubt that the BL-22 was the better made product.

At this point it sounds like I chose the Browning by a simple process of elimination, but the BL-22 has several things going for it. First of all, the BL-22 is of outstanding quality. I have not held other rifles made in the Miroku plant, but I have heard they are of equally exquisite craftsmanship. When you hold the BL-22 you know that this is a rifle which will stand the test of time. The wood is beautiful and the blued steel is gorgeous—you could not ask for more.

The Browning BL-22 is also pretty reasonably priced. It is not as affordable as the Henrys, but like I said, I firmly believe you get what you pay for with the Browning. If it could be found in stores, I think the Marlin would have out priced the Browning by at least $100, and I am not sure if it would match the quality. So in my book, the Browning wins the bang-for-your-buck competition.

Finally, the Browning BL-22 simply fits me. I shouldered both the Henry and the Browning and found the BL-22 to be the better match for me.

Browning BL-22 and Squirrel

My Browning BL-22

Are there things that I don’t like about the BL-22? Absolutely.

The wood, while beautiful, is finished with a high gloss lacquer which makes for an impressive appearance out of the box, but soon the gloss finish shows fingerprints, dents, and scratches more easily that a satin finish. I expect my rifle’s gloss finish will take a beating in the hunting woods, but that is what guns were designed for, so I won’t cry over it.

The lever action on the Browning BL-22 has some kind of gearing so that the lever throw is only 33 degrees. This is pitched as an advantage, and no doubt some people love it, but I am a traditionalist and would have preferred a full length lever throw. Moreover, the trigger assembly moves with the lever, as opposed to staying with the stock as on traditional lever actions. Again, I would prefer the traditional arrangement. Both the Henry and the Marlin use traditional levers.

This brings us to the most universal complaint about the BL-22: the trigger pull. I don’t have the equipment to measure the pull weight but I can say for certain that the trigger pull is very heavy. And due to the unique trigger/lever arrangement it seems to be difficult, if not impossible, to lessen the pull weight. When just plinking and shooting for fun the heavy trigger isn’t much of a problem, but when trying to sight in the rifle and make good groups you tend to focus on the trigger pull and it seems monstrous. You can find a collection of Browning BL-22 trigger pull data over at Rimfire Central.

Finally, the stock iron sights aren’t great, but they never are. The Marlin and the Henry have a similar arrangement so this isn’t really something to nit-pick, and it is easy enough to fix. Shooting in low light with the stock iron sights is hard, but I still manage it okay.

I guess at this point I should say something about the accuracy of the rifle. I am not a bench rest shooter; I don’t like making meticulous groups and therefor I don’t do it. Furthermore, I am not a great shot. I am merely a passable shooter, so every gun is going to be more than accurate enough for me at this point. I enjoy shooting from a standing position at fun targets—empty shotgun shells, steel plates, cans, what-have-you. Because of all the above factors, my ability to give a fair assessment of the Browning BL-22’s accuracy from my own experience is limited.

Someday I will get sandbags—or maybe even a more advanced bench rest set-up—and test the real capacity of the BL-22. Until that time comes, I can say this: When I have done my part and held the sights correctly on the target, the rifle has not missed. If you search the internet you will find that public sentiment holds that of the three major players in the .22 lever action game (the Marlin 39A, Henry, and Browning), the Browning BL-22 is the worst performer. This may be true—I can’t say for sure—but the BL-22 is plenty accurate for my needs and I wouldn’t trade it for either of the other two rifles.

In the next Aspiring Hunter I will go into some more detail about the sights, possible solutions, and sighting in the rifle before hunting season.

Posted in Hunting, Rifles, The Aspiring Hunter Tagged with: , , , , ,

The Aspiring Hunter Part I: An Introduction

I have a confession to make: I don’t come from an outdoorsy family—I didn’t grow up camping, shooting guns, and hunting. In fact, it took me until I was in college before I ever shot a gun, and I had never gone hunting until just last year.

It can be difficult to take up a hobby like hunting if you don’t have friends and family who are hunters themselves. Reading about where to hunt, how to shoot accurately, and how to clean the game when—or more appropriately, if—you kill it only takes you so far. At some point you need to get your hands dirty, and that is when it would be nice to have an advisor standing by to offer advice. Unfortunately I don’t have an advisor, so I have to do my best to take the information I learn from books and the internet and utilize it in the hunting field.

This series is going to chronicle my attempt to transform myself from an absolute tyro hunter into something reasonably approximating a competent hunter.

With my limited hunting experience, going after game the size of a deer is a daunting proposition. In theory I know how to field dress a deer, but once I have the downed animal in front of me I fear it would be a bit overwhelming to dress it and haul it out of the woods by myself, and for that reason I have elected to focus on smaller game which will be more manageable for a solo and inexperienced hunter. This season I will be focusing on small game, in particular squirrels, rabbits, and grouse. I fully plan to graduate to turkey, deer, and larger game at some point, but for this season I think it is best to start small.

Most of what I know about hunting comes from the books that I publish about hunting; however, most of those books are specifically about hunting large game. That’s not to say these books aren’t helpful to the small game hunter. They teach the mentality required to bag game, how to move and be observant while traveling through the woods, and how to shoot a rifle accurately from a variety of field positions. These skills are useful to small game hunting as well as large game hunting and I feel that I have a better chance to bag my quarry having read these books.

One book, .22 Caliber Rifle Shooting by C. S. Landis, does cover small game hunting, and squirrels in particular. This book has been helpful in learning some of the skills that are more specific to small game and squirrel hunting. I will probably read through the small game hunting chapters again for a refresher before the season opens.

As mentioned above, I do have one season of small game hunting under my belt. Last season I got into the woods a few times and managed to get one shot at a squirrel, which I made count. The biggest obstacle to more frequent hunting last season was the cold—I was totally unprepared for how cold it is to sit in the woods in December and January waiting for game to appear. With that in mind, keeping myself adequately protected from the cold is one of this year’s top objectives so that I can hunt more often.

Squirrel and Small Game Hunting Rifle

My one triumph from last year’s small game hunting season. Note the  BL-22 rifle and my homemade game straps.

Squirrel and grouse season opens here in Pennsylvania in about 10 days, and rabbits will be fair game shortly after that. I would like to get in a fair amount of early season hunting so that I can beat the cold for my own comfort and to catch the game before they become less active in the depths of winter. I will still hunt in December and January, but the early season is a priority for me.

In the upcoming parts of this series I will cover how I am preparing for this year’s hunting season and what gear I plan to bring along. Once the season begins I will do my best to log my excursions and analyze them to learn from my frequent mistakes and occasional successes. It is my wish that this series will be, at the very least, entertaining. Beyond that, I think that recording my experiences might be of use to other novice hunters with the desire to get into the hobby more seriously.

Posted in Hunting, The Aspiring Hunter Tagged with: , , , ,

Marksmanship for Hunters and Wilderness Marksmanship

In a previous article we read what C. S. Landis had to say about trigger control and offhand shooting posture.  Today we will continue in a similar vein and take a look at what Townsend Whelen has to say about marksmanship for hunters and marksmanship in the wilderness.

The following excerpt comes from the twelfth chapter of Wilderness Hunting and Wildcraft by Townsend Whelen entitled Wilderness Marksmanship.

WILDERNESS MARKSMANSHIP

“The rifle is a noble weapon. It brings us pleasures that no scattergunner can ever know. A shotgun takes you into cultivated fields, or into those narrow wastes within sight and sound of civilization. But the rifle entices its bearer into primeval forests, into mountains and deserts untenanted by man. To him in whom the primitive virtues of courage, energy, and love of adventure have not been sapped there is scarce a joy comparable to that of roaming at will through wild regions, viewing the glories of the unspoiled earth, and feeling the inexpressible thrill of manliness sore tested by privation and hazard, but armed and undismayed.”—Horace Kephart.

Basic.—Good shots are made, not born. An untrained man instinctively does the wrong thing in firing a rifle. He gives the trigger a sudden pressure, a pull, or jerk when ready to fire, which causes the shot to go wide of the mark by disturbing the alignment of the rifle. The instinctive dread of recoil increases this tendency, and also causes flinching. But with proper instruction any man who is physically fit to hunt big game can become an excellent and reliable rifle shot. Intelligent and educated men can develop themselves with little assistance into first-class marksmen by following the Army training regulations on this subject as a guide,* and by practice in conformity with the principles laid down in these regulations. Study of these regulations, a little home practice, and about ten afternoons on a rifle range or in the country will perfect most men to such an extent that they are far better shots than the majority of sportsmen and guides. But there are some men who cannot learn practically from printed instructions, and for such an individual coach is necessary.

* “U. S. Army Training Regulations No. 150-5, Marksmanship, Rifle, Individual,” and “U. S. Army Training Regulations No. 150-10, Marksmanship, Rifle, General.”

The essentials of good shooting are that the individual must know ( 1) how to hold the rifle with a fair degree of steadiness in each of the firing positions; (2) that he shall know how to aim accurately and consistently; and ( 3) that he shall know how to squeeze the trigger without disturbing the steady hold and accurate aim. Furthermore, he must learn by practice how to coordinate these three essentials-holding, aiming, and trigger squeeze. He must also master the functioning of his rifle and the “Mechanism of Rapid Fire.” Until a man has mastered these he is still in the beginner’s class, and is not prepared to undertake practical shooting of any kind.

It is easier to teach a man to shoot who has never previously had a rifle in his hands than a man who has done a lot of promiscuous shooting without a guide or intelligent instruction, and who has developed many faults. Some faults in rifle shooting, particularly those concerned with the three essentials, are absolutely detrimental to progress and very difficult to overcome. A sportsman should never start rifle practice without a proper guide or a qualified instructor.

The ultimate object of all instruction and practice with the rifle is to develop in the individual the ability to hit small, indistinct targets at unknown ranges, and to hit them quickly and repeatedly, even though they be moving.

I have often seen it stated in print that a good target shot is seldom a good game shot, and vice-versa. This is not true, and men who state such things are neither one nor the other. Exactly the same qualifications, skill, and knowledge are required for hitting a target as for hitting game, and once a trained marksman has become accustomed to his surroundings he will do as well in one form of shooting as the other. But it is first necessary that he be basically trained, and the instruction in this is given in detail in the Army training regulations. It is true that the so-called “target shot” who has never done any shooting except slow fire at a bull’s-eye target is often too slow and deliberate for success in shooting at game. But such a man is not a real target shot. He has never proceeded beyond the A.B.C. of target shooting. He is still in the beginner’s class, for his basic training has not been completed. Basic training includes the rapid functioning of the rifle, the mechanism of rapid fire, the learning of a quick but perfect trigger squeeze, and requires considerable practice at rapid fire.

Today we see more and more tendency to confine target shooting to the prone (lying) position only. This is to be deplored. A man should be able to shoot well and quickly in any position. In days gone by in the Army we were required to practice and qualify at rapid fire in the standing position. The target was silhouette of a kneeling man at 200 yards, and it appeared in view for twenty seconds during which time the marksman was required to fire five shots at it. Similar practice was had in the kneeling, sitting, and prone positions, but the basic position for rapid fire was standing. I know of no form of shooting better qualified to teach really practical rifle marksmanship. When a man can “stand up on his hind legs” and hit a kneeling silhouette five times in twenty seconds at two hundred yards he is a first-class game or target shot. Such skill is by no means beyond the capabilities of any man, although it does require almost a season’s practice. But before one can profitably indulge in such practice he must have acquired the ability to put 80 percent of his shots in the regulation 10-inch bull’s-eye at 200 yards, slow fire. The trouble with the so-called target shot is that he pursues the system so far, and then instead of proceeding to practical shooting, he confines all his future practice to trying to put 99 per cent of his shots in that bull’s-eye, slow fire; one minute per shot. Bull’s-eye shooting is a fascinating game, but it is not practical rifle shooting, it is not military target shooting, and it is of little use in game shooting. It is like learning to say the alphabet forward and backward but never learning to read. A man who has mastered slow-fire target shooting only is not a target shot. A hunter who has never mastered the basic essentials of good marksmanship is not a game shot, although he may be living in that delusion caused by one or two lucky or fluke shots at game. The sportsman who desires to become a good game shot with the rifle should obtain the Army training regulations and proceed to develop himself in all the essentials and fine points of slow and rapid fire by intelligent practice, or he should obtain the services of an experienced coach to teach him these things. After that he will have learned enough to enable him to perfect himself in any form of rifle shooting which he desires.

Marksmanship for Hunters

Targets fires at 100 yards with Springfield Sporting Rifle. 200 grain bullet make by Western Tool and Copper Works with very heavy jacket and small open point. Upper groups, 45 grains Dupont No. 17½ powder. Lower groups, 44 grains Dupont No. 16 powder. Fired for group only with same sight adjustment.

The Standing Position.—In woods hunting one almost always has to take his shots standing. Usually there is no time to assume any steadier position, and if one did sit down or lie down the brush would almost always interfere with the view. The artist loves to depict the hunter kneeling, but almost all trained riflemen find that the kneeling position is much more difficult than to fire standing, and that it takes a comparatively long time to steady down to a good hold and aim in that position. So the kneeling position is seldom used by good shots. One day I was still-hunting moose with my old friend Charlie Barker. We had stopped for a short rest and were sitting on a log watching an ermine hunting mice, when suddenly my sub-conscious mind seemed to tell me that there was something off to our right. I whispered to Barker and got up and strolled over that way quietly. A few yards and I saw the gleam of a big pair of moose antlers appearing like old ivory and glistening above a bush a hundred yards away, then I made out the face and nose of the moose. At once, standing where I was I aimed where I assumed the point of the chest must be, and squeezed off the trigger. Instantly my hand flew to the bolt handle, and by that sleight-of-hand motion known to trained riflemen, I threw in another cartridge and caught the bull as he turned sideways to run off. Almost instantly I was ready to fire a third shot which caught the moose when he had turned tail and was about to leave. At this shot the bull reared up and fell down with a crash, and at my elbow Charlie Barker yelled, “You’ve got him by gosh, you’ve got him!” It was exactly like the old days on the Army Infantry Rifle Team, rapid fire, 5 shots in 20 seconds, at the silhouette of a man kneeling at 200 yards—only it was easier. In those days, which the Englishman would call “salad days,” we youngsters on the team used to be willing to bet a dollar any time that we could make a possible (five hits) at this 200 yard rapid fire.

There is another little lesson for the beginner to learn from this incident. It pays to keep pumping in accurately aimed shots as rapidly as possible while the game remains on its feet.

Confidence.—A big-game hunter should have that confidence with his rifle which comes only through perfect familiarity with it. Only thus will he be able to use it with effect, particularly in moments of excitement. The lack of this confidence is partly the cause of buck fever and of those unfortunate incidents which can be related by every guide of experience which happen when the game is apparently within grasp. I have heard of hundreds of these incidents, among which the following will suffice to illustrate the point. A Montana guide lead his sportsman up to within 50 yards of a bull elk. Upon being told that it was an elk with a fine head and that he must shoot, the sportsman placed his rifle to his shoulder and pumped every cartridge out of it without firing! Another incident happened with a sportsman who was considerably familiar with rifles, but not quite enough so. His guide showed him a moose within easy range. The sportsman immediately got the bolt of his rifle tangled up in his belt and when the guide had untangled that he unlocked the rifle to fire, but immediately locked it again, and tried to pull the trigger but could not. However, after a while he got straightened out and killed the moose which had most accommodatingly waited for him to do everything wrong at least once. Incidents of this kind are most unfortunate, and they leave a black spot on one’s vacation even if no one knows about them but the individual. And such an incident might, in fact, often does, happen on the one shot that the hunter gets on a hunt that he has perhaps planned for years. The point is that they scarcely ever happen to men who have made themselves perfectly familiar with their rifles by a dozen or so afternoons of range practice, intelligently applied, before starting out, and they do very frequently happen to those who neglect to take such practice.

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Trigger Control and Offhand Shooting Posture

After going to the range yesterday and shooting some disappointing offhand groups, I decided to hit the books and see if I couldn’t learn something to improve my posture for offhand shooting and trigger control.

The following is an excerpt I found from Small Bore Rifle Shooting by Edward Crossman on the subject of offhand shooting and trigger control which I think might help those of us struggling to improve our groups from the standing position.

STANDING, OR OFFHAND

This takes one of two forms, in a broad classification. Success in either one is a matter of trigger control; no man can hold steadily in this position. The more removed you are from the ground, in rifle shooting, the more difficult it becomes. Prone, sitting, kneeling, and offhand, decrease in steadiness in regular
stages.

The first of the offhand positions is purely a target-shooting version. The palm-rest of the Free Rifle is merely an artificial aid to this first form, which is the hip- or body-rest.

In this, the rifle is held perched on thumb and fingers, thumb on guard, fingers about the end of the magazine floor-plate of the service rifle, elbow on hip, or pulled firmly against body, body facing at nearly right angles to the line of fire, head dropped forward into the line of sight.

Most men err in not turning the body far enough around from the line of fire, and get the elbow too much to the front.

The sling is of no aid in this position.

It is a poor one for use in a wind, and is not practical for game or war. It is, correctly enough, barred from the offhand stage of the National Matches as entirely artificial.

The other form is the extended arm—the shotgun, or deer shooter’s, position. It is divided, roughly, into half- or full-arm extension. The shooter will take the extension that seems the most steady. The heavier the rifle, to a certain degree, the steadier it will hold in this position; but this can easily be overdone. Light, muzzle-deficient rifles require the left hand run well out to control them.

The right hand should do most of the work, and pull the rifle firmly to the shoulder. The rifle should remain at the shoulder and be fairly steady, with the left hand released entirely. This depends much on the weight of the rifle, of course.

The left hand is the guiding hand and the steadying hand. You cannot get steadiness out of muscles on a strain, hence the desirability of letting the right hand do most of the work.

Left side well toward target, left elbow as far under rifle as possible with the build of the shooter. In a high wind, run left hand well out, and shoot the target “as it goes by.”

In any standing position, success is purely a matter of trigger control and touching it off at just the right moment, compounded with an ability to avoid jerking the trigger for a wide shot now and then.

Offhand Shooting

Captain Richard showing the two standing positions. Left—The extended arm “elbow-free-from-body” position. Right—The hip-rest or “schuetzen” position.

CONCERNING TRIGGER CONTROL

The beginner must remember that, with the exception of prone, no rifle is ever held motionless, and the apparent lack of motion of the rifle of the old hand, is only apparent—the telescope shows that there is still a little wiggle.

Hence, in every position but prone, the rifleman can make good scores only by squeezing off the rifle when it is approximately correct in the alignment of front sight and mark. The farther from the ground the position, the wider will be the swings, and the less the front sight will hesitate under the mark.

Wherefore the festive beginner thinks that he can fool that rifle, and snatch the trigger off the instant the sight touches the mark. It looks reasonable, but the results are truly deplorable.

What happens is that, being a beginner, the shooter could not pull the trigger hurriedly in any event without moving the rifle. Second, the instant his brain signals FIRE! on the report of Chief Scout Right Eye that all is jake, all of his muscles tense up to help in the party. Third, there is a delay, even in the function of brain and muscles, and in the mean time the rifle swings off the mark.

The old-timer can make a rifle go at the approximate instant he desires by a little increase in the weight of squeeze, but keeping all the rest of his buttinski muscles out of the deal.

The tyro cannot, and his only salvation in any but the prone is merely this:

Relax all possible, take up the slack in the trigger, and let the front sight swing and gyrate as it will under the bull.

Trigger Control

Study the position of the hand here. This is the one position where complete trigger control is essential.

Keep increasing the squeeze little by little, trying to “think it off” as the front sight is about right under the bull. Often the shot will come when you are not quite expecting it—but you can “call” the location to yourself because of the mental picture you have of the location of front sight and mark as the shot cracks.

This “calling” business is the first sign of your progress or lack thereof.

If your shots, offhand, strike about where you had the picture of the front sight, you did your part of the squeeze and you are improving rapidly.

If they fail to land where you call them, either your front sight was moving too fast, or else you were jerking the trigger.

The good offhand shot makes his scores by some queer and unexplained ability to add just the trifle necessary to the squeeze at just the right time; he almost “thinks” the rifle off. It is acquired only by practice, and it is always done while the rifle is slowly swaying back and forth across the paper.

Don’t try to fool yourself or your rifle—you can’t yank a trigger fast enough. You cannot, even with a quadruple set trigger and a Martini action, the fastest way known to science to cause a bullet to emerge from a rifle barrel.

If you cannot “call” your shots, or if there is no clear mind-picture of front sight and position of bull in relation to it as the shot goes, then you are kidding yourself and making no progress.

No matter how wabbly you are, no matter how wide your swings, if you are squeezing the rifle off you can tell where the shot should strike.

The only time this may fail as to exact location is where you are conscious that the rifle was swinging rather rapidly as the shot went, and your shot is found wider in the same direction than you thought it would be. This is due to the delay, the lapse, in the ignition, and barrel time of the bullet. It is much less with very fast actions, like the Martini, and it is much more with slower actions, like some single-shot hammer types or fool bolt-action guns, with their cocking pieces loaded down with sights, and slower than cold honey.

Posted in Classic Books, Rifles, Skills Tagged with: , , , , ,