29 April 2011

Reactive Targets

I'm going to jump the gun and put this up a day early because step one is a scavenger hunt.  Also as a reminder Today is the last day to shoot the April contest.  JimmyB the Conservative UAW Guy wants targets in by midnight! 

I got into shooting because it's fun!  Unfortunately what most people do with guns is to focus on the least fun aspect of the sport: punching holes in paper.  Don't get me wrong, it's the only way to measure repeatable accuracy.  It's the only way to see who's the best.  But the real fun is in putting that bullet where you want it with instant pass/fail feedback.

For that you need reactive targets.  Targets that let you know immediately of a hit or miss.  That means steel plates, poppers, and plate racks; clay pigeons, an old time shooting gallery and the big daddy of reactive targets, Boomershoot (playing out this very weekend).  These are a lot more fun than punching holes in paper.

Unfortunately the fleeting nature of reactive targets make them hard to put into the ePostal format of "try as many times as you like and submit your best".  But I think I've found a way that at least some ranges will allow the target.  These reactive targets are non-explosive and biodegradable but provide the desired response. 

Ladies, Gentlemen and Shooters everywhere, I give you "Necco® Mania!"

Necco Wafers are pressed sugar wafers which shatter when hit with a pleasant rain of sugar fragments.

As hinted late last year, this match is posted in three parts.
  1. Scavenger hunt: Procure a roll(s) of "Necco Wafers".  In the days of my youth, every grocery and liquor store carried these candy rolls.  They probably sold for a dime like every other candy bar at the time.  They are still produced but are no longer in wide distribution.  I the SandCastle Queen found these are our local specialty candy store.
  2. Affix one wafer to each target circle on the linked target.  White glue, contact cement or double sided tape have all been successful.  This is our target.  I opted for the "chocolate flavors" as there are more dark colored wafers per roll.  The normal roll has lots of pastels which might not contrast well with the white paper backing.  Coloring the wafers for maximum contrast is allowed.  The SCQueen suggests food coloring if you want to eat the misses afterwards.  Ink or paint coloring is not recommended for human consumption.

  3. Shoot said target, enjoy the sight and sound of shattering wafers; and HAVE FUN!
The wafers are NOT required to shoot the match, they just make it more fun!  You can just shoot the naked target itself.

Course of fire:
Download and print target here.

19 targets, 20 shots.  These are tiny targets, you are allowed one free miss.  The target has 19 spots while each Necco roll contains 38 wafers by my count.  You may assume the even multiple is not an accident. 

Pistols: 7 yds or range minimum which ever is greater.  Standing unsupported, one or two hands. No time limit.
Rifles may be shot any position including off the bench, but rests such as sandbags and bi-pods are disallowed.  The fore end of the rifle must be supported by the offhand elbow*.   No time limit.
  • Rimfire, both iron sights and scope: 25 yards (4 MOA).
  • Centerfire iron sight: 50 yds (2 MOA)
  • Centerfire scope: 100 yds (1 MOA)
Scoring is binary.  Either you hit and destroyed the wafer or you did not.  +1 for a hit, +0 for a miss.  A cracked wafer counts as a hit, assuming there is a hole just adjacent to the target circle).  But only the first hit on a target circle scores (since the wafer was destroyed by the first hit).   For those shooting the naked target (no wafer), standard rules apply:  A hit touching the target scores.  Max score: 19, Min score: 0.

Ties will be broken by distance.  The longer distance takes the place (7M > 7Yds).

Shoot as many times as you like with as many weapons as you can lay your grubby hands on.  With the exception of class 12, we only want to see your best scores for each gun.  Save your worst of the month for class 12 (any gun).

Classes:  You got it? shoot it and we'll find a place to record the score. (I reserve the right to draw the line at tater-guns & scatter guns).
  1. .177 cal air pistol, iron sights (air or C02 powered)
  2. .177 cal air pistol, optic sights (air or C02 powered)
  3. .17/.22 cal rim fire pistol, iron sights
  4. .17/.22 cal rim fire pistol, magnified optical sights
  5. center fire pistol, iron sights
  6. center fire pistol, magnified optic sights
  7. .17/.22 cal rim fire rifle iron sights (25 yds)
  8. .17/.22 cal rim fire rifle magnified optic sights (25 yds)
  9. center fire rifle iron sights (50 yds)
  10. center fire rifle magnified optic sights (100 yds)
  11. other (anything that doesn't fit the above categories)
  12. Low-ball (if you managed to put twenty holes on paper and yet miss most, submit your target here.  This class is open to all comers and may duplicate the firearm used in prior categories.  Inspired by Mr C's March Mess.  Can anyone beat my -19 in March?)
Non-magnified optic sights (e.g. reddot) count as iron sights.  1:1 "RedDot" sights might be slightly faster to align than normal iron sights as there is only one sight to get on target, not two.  But speed is not a factor in this game so it's a wash.  Take your time and make good hits with either system.
    Score submissions: scan/photograph your target, fill in the gun info (make & model & caliber), distance, class, on-line identity (name/pseudonym as you want it on the score sheets, blog reference for linky love ) however you want to be remembered on the score sheets... email to SandCastleScrolls-at-msn-dot-com.

    Post Scripts:

    * handicapped shooters are invited and encouraged to participate.  Waivers will be granted to the extent of the limitation.  Come and shoot with us!

    "Necco" is a registered trademark of the New England Confectionary Company, Inc.  Revere MA   www.necco.com
    #include std/FTC.disclaimer... This match is not endorsed nor sponsored by Necco (Dang.. I wish I'd thought to ask).  I nor any of the SandCastle Crew have received compensation of any form for what might be considered "product placement".  They offer the product and this seems to be a fun way to enjoy the product.

    HatTip:  The "shooting at biodegradable targets" idea comes from friend and fellow shooter JJ.  Sorry, no web presence so no linky love.  Still credit where credit is due.

    16 April 2011

    Atlas Shrugged

    I haven't waited this breathlessly for a movie to debut since "The Empire Strikes Back". Heck, I haven't seen a movie in a theater in years, as the "movie experience" bears a striking resemblance to the "airline experience" and the payoff is usually not worth the hassle.

    Atlas Shrugged is a classic story we've waited decades to see on the silver screen. But first a confession. I haven't actually read the book. I'd always meant to but never found the time. Years ago I found the audiobook on the SCMoms shelf and borrowed that. It was 16 45 minute sides so I'm sure it was an abridged version.

    Still the script closely followed my recollection of the audiobook. I loved the epic scenery and CGI for the train scenes (at least I assume it was CGI, how else could it have been done?). The cast fit well into their roles. Mrs. Reardon plays the royal bitch very well. I've known people with a spouse like that and don't understand why they stay in the relationship. Seems to me, life is too short to spend with an abusive spouse.  Here is another with Dagney confronting the union rep.  BTW I prefer movies with unknown actors; they don't bring along any baggage to the role.

    Currently it's only showing on two screens here in Arizona. After a late lunch I dropped back in on the theater while walking back to my car. I asked the manager "How's business?" He had a great big smile on his face and said "this is the busiest I've ever seen this place. My next two showings are already sold out." Our 1:30pm Saturday Matinee performance was also a sellout.

    Continuing on the sidewalk back to my car I overheard a cellphone call which I think summed it up well "...This was a book written over forty years ago and accurately predicted what is happening in the world today."

    BTW, props to Vox for showing up in a shirt decorated with Taggart Transcontinental and Reardon Metal logos.  Nicely done!  (I wish I'd thought to do it, and will take your left overs to apply to a shirt of my own!)

    Bottom line, best movie I've seen in years. Go See it!

    *** Warning Spoilers below ***

    A coupla quibbles...

    1. The deal with John Galt seems to be "Right here, right now. You walk away from everything and come with me". And yet the first guy ("Kellogg?") was able to go in and explain to Dagney that he's resigning and there is no offer she can make to keep him. Why did he get a different deal? (Req'd for the story I'm sure. Nuff said)

    2. The movie portrayed the rail line first run as "Ok tracks are laid, lets take our train out and run it up to full speed.  Let's see if this Reardon metal is any good or not". That simply doesn't happen... A series of test runs are conducted to gradually expand the performance envelope at a slow deliberate pace until full performance is achieved. A friend agreed but noted the movie didn't have time to show that in the 100 minute film. And I can agree with that, but I think there should have been a couple sentences of dialog to show that proper engineering procedures had been followed. After all Dagney was trained as an engineer and she would know that.

    3.  Whilst showing the industry magnates in their mansions and being chauffeured around in their limos,  why aren't the government parasites shown the same way?  When was the last time Mr Mouch drove himself anywhere?  Last presidential cycle John McCain was demonized for not knowing how many homes he owns (apparently the answer was 7).  We are currently in a situation where government employees are paid significantly better than the private sector for comparable positions, enjoy glorious benefits  and never have to worry about layoffs or pay reductions (I took a 10% pay cut last year to avoid layoffs).  That side should have been shown.  Perhaps it will come out in future parts (after all, this is only part I).

    15 April 2011


    BAG day actually came a little early to the SandCastle.  I was expecting to order so I was planning ahead.  But to my luck I found what I wanted locally and was able to make the deal is just a couple days.

    S&W 629  .44 Remington Magnum

    I waffled for several months over the .44/.357 question.  I have dreams of visiting Alaska and would want the .44 in case of bears.  OTOH, the .44 is a beast to shoot and is a heavy thing to carry around if you don't need it.  The .357 is lighter but still powerful.

    My friendly local purveyor of phine phirearms distilled the dilemma like no one else.  "It really doesn't matter which one you buy first because you will eventually own both."  I couldn't argue with that.  If you can afford one, you will afford both (eventually).

    Mr Chono (before the SCSon destroyed the sunshield) shows the WWB 240gr soft nose leaving the muzzle at just over 1300 fps.  That's a heavier projectile leaving the muzzle >50% faster than a .45 auto.  Not surprising she kicks like a mule.  I keep reminding the SCSon the classic energy equation E=MV^2.  Talking to a friend, he has a Scandium .44 with a 2" barrel.  It's light but I'm sure the recoil is brutal.  Hmm... fire his beast, set off M80's in my bare hand or let the bear gnaw on me for a bit... tough call.

    Now to the economics... the WWB factory ammo ran right around $0.70/round tax included.  Looks like I can reload for around 1/3rd of that (Hornady 240 gr FMJ-HP).  So the $25 die set will pay for itself back quickly.  Of course I'll probably want to set that up on the Dillon 550B which requires a additional $45 powder bell & shell plate kit.  Still a $70 investment against a $0.40 per round advantage is still a good investment.

    But if I ever end up in Alaska staring down a surprised bear, I won't be depending on "HEY BEAR, GO AWAY" or asking "Um, Mr Guide, did you perchance bring a fire arm?"

    Shooting is not the first course of action, but the Messer's Smith & Wesson option will be on the table!

    10 April 2011


    ... in three shots.

    Not me, the SandCastle Son.   Let me explain.

    The SCSon came out to Thursday Night Steel and really wanted to shoot.  The club has no minimum age, but merely must know and understand the rules.  Also demonstrate proficiency with the weapon.  We also did not have all the necessary equipment.  Specifically he didn't have a belt.

    He also struggles with racking the slide on the Hi-Power.  He wanted to show me he's ready and I wanted to see if he's ready.  But first I wanted to get some Chrono data on my BAG day purchase* and had the Chronograph set out.  Once that was done he wanted to get some practice changing magazines from slide lock.  So the drill was a simple shoot one, reload, shoot one.

    I reminded him several times "Don't shoot my chronograph".  "Don't worry Dad, I got this".  You can see where this is headed.  Third shot destroyed the front sunshade.  I declared a DQ, we packed up and went home.  This is the penalty for breaking the rules. 

    * BAG day came a little early... details on April 15th.

    07 April 2011

    Quotes from the range...

    SandCastle Queen: "I'm a Sniper..."
    Me: "... With a 3 1/2 inch barrel!"

    The SandCastle Crew met up with the good folks at GreatSatanInc for a round of Thursday Night Steel.

    Stage 1 (which we shot last) was a "modified Outer Limits" scenario. From box A, hit a circle target at 20 yds and a square at 35.  Then from box B hit a second circle at 20 yds, square at 35 and finally a circular stop plate at 20 yds.

    The SandCastle Queen had little trouble even with the 35 yard squares, despite shooting a Sig P225 with a 3.5" barrel.  She just takes her time, lines up the shot and squeezes the trigger.


    Every time.

    Her stage times are nothing to write home about but who cares?  My uncle plays golf with his wife and never writes anything down on the score card.  He's having fun with his wife so who cares what the number is.  In this case someone else is minding the SCQueen's score card so the time is recorded, but I pointed out she doesn't have to look at the number or care what it means.

    "Did you have fun?" "Heck yea... this is a lot more fun than just shooting paper on the main range."

    And that's all that counts. 

    03 April 2011

    Joe, you're killing me...

    One of the highest items on my "ToDo this life" list is suddenly within reach.

    Joe has 5 positions open for Boomershoot and I'm not ready. I haven't been working on sighting in the rifle & working up the loads. And I don't think I can get ready in that time.

    (To tell the truth, I'm even more interested in the Fri-Sat precision rifle clinic than the Boomershoot event itself.)

    Ugggh... I WANNA GO!

    Update: It's not just the gunnie stuff that's holding me back. Family responsibilities are also a major factor. Catching the clinic and Boomershoot means heading up on Thursday and home on Monday. That's three vacation days which is doable. However the rest of the family will want to come and three days out of school are a bigger problem (and I'd want the family close to help with spotting).

    Also, there the "if you're to be in the neighborhood" factor. The route takes us within shouting distance of family a couple times over. So it would be rude to come so close and not connect for at least a meal. That means a couple more days off and again the SCSon is in school.

    Update II... I haven't given up on this. The SandCastle Queen understands what this means to me. SandCastle Son wants to come but his grades are insufficient to skip a couple days of school. Perhaps this could be the incentive to get his act together. I haven't booked a position yet but the game is still in play.