100 .17HM2 Cartridges bought as part of a 10,000-round bulk lot: $8.
10 Plastic Plates & Self-Adhesive Shoot-N-C Targets: $15.
A Beautiful Sunday Afternoon Spent in My Woods Enjoying My Life, My Liberty and My Pursuit of Happiness: Priceless.
A goal, a dream and a wish … all fulfilled at the same time in the same place by the same activity. That was the Gun-a-Day 100 experience for me.
Even if it hadn’t gone well, it would have been productive, instructive and fun, but it happens that the results were satisfying, so it’s a four-way win at the very least.
The “home plate” and “pie plate” picture is the “proof of concept” practice round. I moved the front bell on the BSA sight (which turns out to have been a fantastic bargain thanks to an add-on offer from sportsmansguide.com– can’t believe the accuracy for the price … less than $30!) without any additional adjustment and fired three shots at each of the two targets.
Three low-right hits on the top. Two low-left hits on the bottom with one flier (prob’ly off the right). That’s with a dead-on-center aimpoint. Those are the first 100-yard shots taken with this rifle, and that’s pretty close to dialed in. Very pleasantly surprising.
Next, I adjusted the scope for elevation and “windage” (very little air movement, but I was clearly off on the horizontal alignment) and then finished off the rest of the cartridges in the two 10-round Eagle mags I’ve zip-tied into one unit (the snap-together attachments don’t hold up to recoil stress on their own). That’s 14 more shots, and they gave me a strong sense that I could shoot with confidence knowing that my own efforts would be the only major variable in the equation.
At least one of these was, though, a “fizzle-case” (pardon the highly technical terminology). Some of these Eley-Hornady VMax rounds are just plain weak– “Dudley Do-Wrongs,” for lack of a better term. But I’m not figuring any fudge-factor into my results. I’m counting every shot fired as my own. There were a few stove-piped cases, and a few white-grit blow-back events in the process, but it all went pretty well– especially for the first time I’ve ever fired 100-yard shots.
I think it’s the first time ever in my 48 years, but I’m positive it’s the first time with measured distance and range-discipline conditions.
Wow, what fun it all was. Even if I’d done poorly, the process itself was enjoyable and educational (and I got a bit of mowing done, to boot, on the way back and forth from the firing line and the target pit– saddled up again on my green and yellow Appaloosa-lawn tractor).
It still stuns me a bit to think that I could get this kind of performance out of a $30 scope. I own a number of BSA sighting rigs, but this has taken me from multi-item owner to multi-item owner-and-big-fan-for-life in just one day’s worth of shooting. Atta’Boy, BSA. Cheers!
The .17HM2 is touted as a tack-driving round, and now I know I have the equipment to hone my potential for precision and repeatable accuracy. Also, I should point out that the “tactical railed” scope rings are BSA-branded, too. I picked them up on Saturday at Academy Sports (they don’t list this item online), and it turns out that their $34.99 price point is at least six bucks below amazon.com’s price. What?! When’s the last time that happened? I may even put a small laser on that front ring rail when squirrel season rolls around again …
I mounted today’s targets in classic cheapskate style: dollar store box tape on a scrap of cedar board propped through a rusty garden trellis ring in front of a cast-off polymer barrel in front of a near-dead pine tree at the bottom of a little hollow on the back edge of the property. The cheap plastic picnic plates were too brittle on their own (as discovered with Target 1), and the larger Shoot-N-C’s were the perfect solution. Even keyholed shots were easy to identify.
Before getting to the actual shooting report, I need to give a shout out to Stoney Point while I’m cataloging my favorite gear in this post. I have all three sizes of these light, sturdy, portable tripods, and I love ‘em like the 3rd arm I don’t actually have. Since I’ve had them for going on three or four years now, I can say for sure that they are not wimpy. They have held up very well, and I have not babied them. Quite the contrary. Most of the time, I need to be more careful with my gear than I am, and these sticks are as likely to be seen rattling around in my yard cart or sprawled in the back of my old Blazer or buried behind or under stacks of gear being shifted from one place to another, and there aren’t even any significant scratches to be seen. What I appreciate most is that there are no loose or lost rubber tips or other fittings. No kidding: there’s some genuine craftsmanship in this equipment, and I’m glad I’ve got these tools in my kit.
Here’s a run-down of the basic stats and pictures of the 10 targets which faced 10 shots each:
Bullseye hits … 3
10-ring hits … 42
9-ring hits … 23
That’s 65% in 9s or Better, and I’ll take that and gladly try to pretend luck wasn’t a big factor!
There are 3 shots off the rings, so 97% of the shots are in 7s or Better grouping, and all 100 shots are at least on the plates (Targets 2, 6 and 8 have blue-edge hits). Without a doubt, I’d have loved to hit 100 for 100, but if I’d been offered 97 out of 100 accuracy (knowing that an occasional low-charge, high-charge or rim-failure will happen with this stickpiled ammo), I would have signed on the dotted line without hesitation.
The most satisfying thing about this whole project is that I keep finding opportunities for small successes while also seeing clear room for improvement going forward. It’s great to get 9-ring and 10-ring hits, and it will be great to see if I can keep getting the groups tighter and tighter as the year-long plan unfolds.
Each individual target plate was used with a particular person or purpose in mind. Here’s how they shake out for sharing:
Plate 1 goes to “Russ.” He’s a buddy-by-long-distance these days, but he helped me get serious– and safe– about firearms and 2nd Amendment Rights almost 15 years ago now. Thank, Russ. Turns out that one of the best groups of the day came in the first 10 shots. Once again, that “smaller target gets closer groups” principle seems to bear out … This “glorified” bit of trash plastic is too silly for your beautiful home, but I’ll be sending it out anyway. “Ees for fun!“
Plate 2 goes to my brother, “Yojimbo,” and his son, “Robbi Wan Kenobi” (the force is strong with that one). They are a 2nd son and a 2nd child, respectively, and I couldn’t ask for any better guys to “family up” with … Cheers, Lads!
Target 3 is for my buddy, “Brooklyn,” who is an integral part of Team Gun-a-Day. Thanks for gifting dailygunner.com to me, for being a champion web-host, and for being my former-youth-group-kid-become-lifelong-friend of a buddy. So, when can I buy my very own target-producing ‘printrbot‘ from you and your crack team of digi-technicians (some of the coolest kids on Earth)?
Target 4 is a poor man’s token of thanks– not suitable for framing, I’m afraid– for American Rifleman‘s Mark A. Keefe, IV. I’m grateful for the knowledge he shares enthusiastically in print and on screen, and I count myself blessed to standing alongside him and others as a Patron Life Member of the NRA.
Target 5 is in a package for shipment to Anthony Licata at Field & Stream, but it’s not a cold-call drop. In his March “From the Editor” note, “A few simple goals for this season,” he invited readers to send word of 2011 “sporting resolutions”– and how well they are being kept. I’m happy to report that, while tomorrow has no guarantee, the “shoot a gun and write about it every day this year” goal is still going, and I hope many others are enjoying the pursuit of their personal goals as much as I have been.
Target 6 is the “archive piece” to be stored– hermetically sealed in a mayonnaise jar or something– in the Mission Impossible-proof, climate-controlled, bomb-proof Gun-a-Day vaults (which do not actually exist).
Target 7 is a cold-call drop item. It’s headed off with three cheers to the Birchwood Casey folks. I hope they’ll know how much I like their targets. I am available for an ad campaign … VOICE OVER: “He is known to have filled dishwasher soap boxes with dirt for target practice. Pine cones fear his approach. Plastic Pepsi bottles request blindfolds when he takes them from grocery store shelves. He is … the world’s most cheapskate-ish target shooter.” DAILY GUNNER (in a pile of bullet-riddled pizza boxes, holding a can of orange spray paint and a shrink-wrapped set of 8-inch Shoot-N-C’s): “I don’t always shoot at store-bought targets. But, when I do, I prefer Birchwood Casey.” Wait. What? You say this has already been done? Okay … never mind. Thanks, BC!
Target 8 is reserved for another bit of wishful thinking. I sincerely hope that, with any kind of consistent web-traffic and reader interest in this site, that I might be able to list some Gun-a-Day items on gunbroker.com for an NRA fundraising program. I wouldn’t be surprised at all that I’m the most under-funded, lowest-incomed Patron Life Member in the whole NRA. I can rarely (as in “so close to never that I hear it breathin’”) send any extra money for special campaigns or anything else, but I sure would like to. This plate and other targets and bullet cases and other “seen on Gun-a-Day” items are being stored with high hopes of even a few dollars to add to the NRA-ILA war chest. We’ll see how it all goes ….
Target 9 is designated for Gary Olen, Founder of The Sportsman’s Guide. I can’t even keep track of all the stuff I’ve used on Gun-a-Day that have come from his company. Every new catalog includes at least one or two (usually several) very practical, useful and affordable items. It’s a go-to price- and type-comparison database for me, too. Hard to beat the values, and I’m far from the only one who knows that very well.
Target 10 says, “My 10? Mrs. D.G.” For almost 29 years now, my wife has been along for the ride of a lifetime with me, and wrong turns, potholes, dead ends and all, she’s been a good travelin’ partner. We both thank God for His tender mercies on us and on our family.
Here’s the whole set marked for distribution (click the pic for the full-sized version)– a happy, handsome clan. It’s a formal “family photo” commemorating 100 Gun-a-Days.
What a blessing to have been able to enjoy the time in this way.
Thanks to any and all for reading, too.
Please jump in with any comments, questions and suggestions.
May all your shots be true, and may none ever need be fired in anger.
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My Father-in-Law also took a turn, and he’s got skills. He went 9 for 10 (looks like 8s or Better to me), and he was standing with a Stoney Point PoleCat. Very impressive work! He’s retired Navy and says it’s been 42 years since last taking 100-yard rifle shots (M1, iron sights!). Must be like riding a bicycle or somethin’ … Nice shooting with you, Mister!
This target (complete with a double-tapped keyhole at about 9 o’clock!) gets Shot o’the Day honors (‘preciate your service to our country, Tango-Oscar-Mike, and I ‘preciate the chance to spend some time with you in the friendly confines of the patch o’ground we call Gun-a-Day-Land). It’s a keeper. Definitely one to post on the garage refrigerator wall of fame!
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This post required more time than usual for preparation, production and publication, so the posting time of “4/10/11, 10:10pm” is only ceremonial. The management regrets any undue confusion or personal inconvenience this may cause and appreciates the warm, sympathetic understanding of the reading public in general and visitors to the pages of this site in particular. We sincerely thank one and all.