Some people say Memorial Day should be a solemn occasion, not a celebration. Those people are full of crap. If you’re visiting a cemetery, yes, that’s solemn. Otherwise you honor the day best by flying the flag, pausing for a moment of gratitude, and proceeding to ENJOY the freedom your fellow Americans fought for.
So on Memorial Day this year, the stars having aligned, I did the most ‘Murica! thing I could think of: I went out on a range trip with my son and shot a lot of bullets.
I wasn’t the only one with that idea. When we got to our favorite shooting spot out in the boonies, two groups of people were already there, having a conversation over a bunch of guns laid out on a blanket. I’ve never met anyone out shooting who wasn’t super polite, happy to show off the guns they’re using, and even answer all manner of questions about them.
Here’s what we brought for show-and-tell.
The other folks at the range had some REALLY cool stuff — the star of the show was a Swedish Mauser rifle. drool… covetcovetcovet… It turned out they were starting to pack up, so after a short show-and-tell session we had the range all to ourselves. Just the way I like it.
Here’s the view from the firing line.
The previous group kindly left us their gently used bullseye targets, but being incurable plinkers, we mostly used them as convenient places to set the cans and bottles we were about to execute for crimes against humanity.
This photo was taken right before a very disappointing bottle of Sakura Cherry Blossom Soda that we ordered straight from Japan met its demise at my hands…the son being unable to hit it because he’s kind of a weeb. Well, that’s not true. The not-hitting-what-he-aims-at part, I mean; he watches way too much anime, but the lad can shoot. He just wanted to witness the cloying drink’s demise unimpeded by even the AR-15’s light recoil.
The AR-15 is tremendous fun to shoot, but the ol’ lever-action .30-30 just can’t be beat. No trip to the range would be complete without it. Here’s my son selecting a target… a split second before the bang… and a split second after. Notice the raised pinky finger — the mark of a true connoisseur.
Milk jugs filled with water are some of my favorite reactive targets, especially when shooting the .30-30. Watching the contents explode into spray and vapor never gets old. Not much left of those milk jugs after Mama Bear chews them up.
I’ve been neglecting my pistol practice for quite a while, so between turns with the rifles I practiced drawing from concealment and shooting at the spinning target. The idea there is to draw smoothly and hit the target again and again, timing your shots so that it never completely swings to a rest. Toward the end of our 3+ hours of range time, I was almost managing to do it properly…but there were complications.
In 8 years of carrying and shooting this gun, I could count the number of malfunctions on one finger…until yesterday. Something like this happened every 10 shots or so, like clockwork. It seems I wasn’t only neglecting to practice, I was neglecting the gun itself. It’s been at least two years since the last cleaning and lube.
Being bone-dry and gunked up with carbon residue and lint doesn’t exactly improve reliability…who’d a thunk it? I’m probably lucky the lint didn’t catch on fire.
Plus, I haven’t actually shot it a lot with the clip-draw dingus installed. One round actually ended up with the case mouth mashed in the ejection port and the base jammed under the belt clip. Had to pry that one out. I like the clip-draw system better than any holster I’ve ever tried, but I’m probably going to uninstall it. Although it probably didn’t cause the malfunctions, it nonetheless made at least one of them harder to deal with.
The whole point of carrying this firearm on a daily basis is to defend my life and loved ones if the worst should happen; I don’t want the worst to get even worse by having a lifesaving tool malfunction when it’s needed most.
But let’s get back to the part that really matters: the FUN.
Thanks to the effort and sacrifices of generations of Americans, I’m able to have this kind of fun simply because I want to, without jumping through onerous government-imposed hoops (well, not very many, at least…) or begging my betters for permission. Hell, for an armed American, there are no betters (only better shots).
And the part where I get to choose the best tools ever devised by man for having fun AND potentially saving lives, well, that’s pretty damn cool too.