I’m always looking for a new way to enjoy some time at the range. Punching paper targets at 7, 25 and even 100 yards is my standard shooting practice at the range. This standard shooting routine can get a little boring after awhile and I like to change things up a little bit. Recently I had a chance to shoot at a local 3 gun shoot !! Not knowing what to expect I loaded up a pistol, a shotgun and a AR rifle and headed out to the range. I’m a huge fan of shoot what you have and went just with my basic firearms. The men and women at the range made me feel welcome and after walking the course with a mandatory safety brief we watched everyone go through the course for score. Most people there were pretty new to this type of competition so I felt pretty comfortable.
PISTOL stage- Using my Springfield Armory XD9 I shot 2 rounds from the left side of the barricade into 2 targets. Performed a magazine change and then shot another 2 rounds into 2 different targets from the right side of the barricade. The range was around 15 yards and there was a “friendly” target in between the two real targets you had to watch out for. Dropped my pistol onto the plastic drum and headed for my shotgun.
SHOTGUN stage- The 5 shots in this stage was a bit challenging. It had been a long time since I shot my Mossberg 500 and it felt good to bring it out again. Working from right to left trying to hit 3 3″ steel targets sitting on stands across the width of the range. Ranges were from 15 to 25 yards. One target was a falling target that sprung a clay target a few feet in the air to shoot. Once this stage was done I headed over to my AR.
AR stage- This was by far the most difficult stage. Starting from 20 yards away trying to hit a 2 man sized targets and 2 10″ targets all while slowly backing up! This is something I’ve never tried before and my score showed it! Every was talking about this stage and admitted this is something they haven’t tried before.
Conclusion- I met some new people, had a blast and learned more about my equipment (like take the plug out of your shotgun)! If your AR is sighted in for 100 yards I would suggest shooting it at 25 or 30 yards to have an idea where it strikes at that distance.
Even though this was a local 3 gun shoot ran by volunteers and there were no experts there, people shared their tactics with everyone. Even though I didn’t do as well I hoped I would I’m going back Tuesday to change things up again! If you want to try something new in the shooting sports I urge you to try a local 3 gun shoot!
After 70 years the .357 Magnum is still a one of the most popular cartridges around. This popularity is well deserved. Firearms chambered in the full power .357 Magnum caliber can also shoot less powerful, and cheaper, .38 Special loads. This benefit can increase range time and let new shooters get used to the recoil before moving up to full power loads. Three reasons I like the .38 Special/.357 Magnum combination are firearms chambered for them, the wide selection of factory ammunition available and the ease of reloading.
Firearms– Most of the .38 Special/.357 Magnum firearms available today are revolvers. From short barreled carry pieces to huge long barreled hunting handguns there are .38 Special/ .357 Magnum to fit every need. Single action .357 Magnum revolvers are powerful enough for deer size animals at close range. Even the .38 Special could be used for small game given the right load. There are a few auto loading pistols chambered for the .357, but I don’t have any experience with them.
A lever action rifle in .357 can be used for hunting or self defense. Using a heavy load the combination of a quick handling carbine in .357 could be powerful enough for deer out to 100 yards. For self defense the .357 Magnum in a lever action rifle is sufficient to defend your home.
Factory Ammunition– Just about every sporting goods store will carry at least one .38 Special/.357 Magnum factory load. All across the country these two calibers are easy to pick up if you are in need of a box or two for your firearm. These offerings might not be exactly what you’re used to shooting, but at least your have something! The fact you can find ammunition almost anywhere you go can be a great advantage for the .38 Special/.357 Magnum revolver.
From the cheapest target load for your .38 Special to the most powerful .357 Magnum hunting load you’ll be able to find ammunition almost anywhere.
Reloads– Being a new reloader I started with the .38 Special/.357 Mag. A straight wall case eases reloading the .357 . A wide variety of powders drive different weights of bullets to a wide range of velocities. Since there are so many choices to make a reloader can find a combination to fit any need they might have.
Now might be the time to add a .357 Magnum to your collection if you don’t already have one. If you do have one, perhaps it’s time to add another !
Old man Winter is back in Minnesota. Limited hours of light and brutal temperatures keep most people inside for days at a time. Please don’t let this time go to waste. Instead of watching movies or taking long naps this time can be used to get your firearms in shape for the coming Spring. Here is a small list I have been using this Winter to keep busy.
I have been using this Winter to improve my reloading. I’ve worked up some great loads for my .45 ACP and .357 Magnum over the last few months. Loading up some light target loads that are wonderful to shoot has helped me put cold days to good use. I’ve also stocked up on some loads so when the weather finally warms up I will be ready to hit the range.
Besides reloading I have found these days to be great to clean and inspect my firearms. Pulling firearms out for a quick going over and basic cleaning keeps your firearms at the ready if you might need them. On really nice days a quick trip to the range to verify a rifle zero and practice with it gets me out to enjoy the weather!
Visiting Winter time gun shows is another way to break the Winter blues. Seeing new firearms and some old ones can be a great way to spend an afternoon. Looking over tables of all types of firearms and firearms related items you might make a discovery that you’ve been looking for. Some people use these as one way to improve their collection of firearms or trade firearms they never use anymore.
Winters here in Minnesota are long and cold, but we’ve learned to adapt to them. I spend the time inside to be ready for a break in the weather to enjoy a warm afternoon at the range. If it’s been cold for a long stretch of time I find my way to an indoor range. Since it’s just a 25 yard range I’m limited to what I can shoot, but for testing some hand loads, or improving my pistol shooting, it’s a good alternative to my outdoor range. Hopefully this will give everyone a few ideas for putting these long Winter days to good use!
When it’s raining or snowing outside, or the temperature drops below freezing for days on end I find ways to keep busy. Oh, I still take the dog for a walk and get outside as much as possible, but I find those Wintery days a perfect time to make some bullets! In just a few hours I can produce some accurate and inexpensive rounds to shoot from a .38 Special or .45 ACP. With the price and availability of ammo always changing reloading is one way of bringing some stability to my ammunition storage.
Even with my single stage press I find the time I spend very relaxing. By taking my time and following loading data from reliable sources I can produce the exact ammunition I need. From lower powered target ammo to some powerful hunting ammo I get exactly what I need. By choosing different bullet weights I can match what each firearm likes to shoot for even better results. After a long day at work the ability to sit for one hour and de-prime and resize 100 rounds of .38 Specials is priceless.
Networking with others that reload is a great source of information. Talking with others at gun shows or at the range I have learned a lot about reloading. If it’s just a tip about different things to try or experience with different powders networking with others is fun. I have gotten boxes of reloaded ammunition from some to try in my firearms. Some worked amazing and I’ve copied their data to produce my own. Others haven’t worked very well and I gave their half used box back to them.
I tried to justified the savings reloading has given me but quickly realized that probably wasn’t the case. If you shoot just a few hundred rounds a year you’re probably better off buying factory ammunition and having fun. But if you shoot quite a bit, or want better results I would suggest reloading. Once you have your press set up and running you will save money on your ammunition, but the best pay out is with the knowledge you gain and the great people that will help you in your new hobby.
So while I have saved a little bit of money reloading, I find the friendships I’ve made and the quiet peaceful time I’ve spent making my own ammunition to be the best part of why I reload.
Need somewhere to go on a cold Winter’s day? Need a hard to find firearm item? Need a place to walk around and look at new firearms and a few old ones? One place that fulfills all of this is your local gun show. Many gun shows are held on a regular schedule and is a great place to get to know firearm experts in your area. Forget the idea of a bunch of old men wearing plaid shirts trying to out do each other in firearm knowledge. The gun shows I attended recently are a fun place for the entire family to spend a few hours wandering the aisles to find a treasure or two.
We have had our table of clean and sorted brass at two recent gun shows and have had a great time each weekend. The other vendors went out of their way to make us feel welcome and a few gave us a few tips about the gun show trade. Of course there are the big vendors that sell strictly firearms, but most of the vendors we talked with have a few items on one table.
One lady had non-lethal self protection items for sale. Pepper spray, bright lights and the stun gun marketed toward females were very popular. Her table was well set up and was very busy all weekend.
There were several tables of knives to look through. Most were inexpensive copies of popular styles both small pocket knives to huge machetes. I even found a British Commando knife that I just had to bring home!
Leather goods were available also. Custom made belts while you waited, holsters and leather purses designed for firearms carry were all available.
If you need ammunition for an obsolete caliber I’m sure you’ll be able to find it at the next gun show. At our table people asked for .221 Remington Fireball, we don’t sell ammunition, but pointed him to the table that had it! Old surplus ammunition was easy to find for many older rifles. New production ammo was plentiful, even some powder coated red, white and blue made an appearance. Make sure you check the prices between vendors!
Besides the standard firearms, ammunition and reloading supplies many other items are for sale. Training classes to become a better shooter along with permit to carry course sign ups were available.
So the next weekend of bad weather, or if you have a few hours to do nothing head on out to your local gun show. You’ll be surprised at the number of people and the wide variety of items for sale!
Having everything you need for a trip to the range in one easy to grab bag is the first step for a good trip. Who hasn’t ran out of staples while hanging paper targets? It’s frustrating not to have a spotting scope when you need to see out to 100 yards. I solved most of these common short comings with a range bag that has the things I might need every time I go shooting. The bag is not so big it becomes a chore to carry it, but yet large enough to keep everything organized and easy to get out. Being a workingman I didn’t have a budget to purchase a hundred dollar bad for my use. I picked up a nice bag from Amazon that fits my needs and fits my budget.The following is a short list of what is inside my bag:
Spotting Scope- I use a small scope for the 50 yard stage during pistol league and out to 100 yards while shooting rifles.. My older eyes can’t see tiny holes out that far, but this light weight scope makes it easy to see shot groups. An inexpensive scope with 20 to 60 times magnification is a valuable item in my bag.
First Aid Kit– Hopefully I never have to use it, but I always have a small trauma kit stowed in my bag. Some of the places I shoot are a long distance from any medical help and this kit might save some ones life if needed.
Eye and Ear Protection– A new shooter might not have safety glasses or hearing protection and I need to be prepared for them. If someone else is shooting a large caliber rifle close to me I will double my hearing protection to save what’s left of my hearing. A small bag of Inexpensive foam ear plugs in my bag can come in handy!
Staple Gun with Extra Staples- I can’t remember how many times I’ve run out of staples while hanging targets. I finally learned and now have staple gun AND an extra box of staples!
Firearm Cleaning Kit– I have a small kit that I have used to run a patch through a rifle barrel while at the range. The small bottle of gun oil has come in handy a few times when my firearms was a little too dry. I don’t clean my firearms at the range, but I what to be prepared if me, or another shooter, needs to clean their firearm.
Pen and Paper– From my earlier post about journaling my pistol league shooting I write scores from shooting. I also mark groups on targets while sighting in optics. A pen and paper comes in handy once in awhile and doesn’t take up little space.
Tools– I always have a firearm multi-tool in my bag. From adjusting rifle scopes to clearing cases that won’t extract this little tool has come in handy for me and I’ve loaned it out many times as well!
This list is constantly improving and changing to becoming the true perfect range bag. I take the scope out if I’m just shooting pistols at close range and add other items I might need for a M-1 Garand match. But most items stay in the bag for every trip. These items are come in handy for me and other shooters that might need them.