A Nurse with a Gun

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Transition To Revolvers

We returned to the range after work today, and I had a surprise waiting for QJ. He was involved in shooting his Buckmark, and doing quite well, when I reached into my range bag to retrieve an old Smith & Wesson. When he finished his magazine, I laid it on the table in front of him.

"Oh man! That's an old man's gun!" laughed QJ.

"Perhaps...... But an old man can clean your clock with this thing."


The gauntlet had been tossed. QJ had been shooting only at the target on the right side of his frame at seven yards. I eyeballed him with my best Clint Eastwood eye twitch, and he stepped aside. As I slowly filled the old blue revolver's cylinder with 22 long rifle cartridges, I silently prayed.

As QJ watched, I placed six holes together on the left upper arm of the X.

"Damn. Let me try that!"

"Think you can handle it?" I asked. He smirked.

I showed QJ the basic manual of arms for a wheel gun, how to open and close the cylinder, how to load it and eject cartridges, and advised him on the double action trigger. I allowed him to dry fire the gun in double action. During a cold range, we changed to fresh targets. When the range was again hot, I told QJ "It's the same principles. Keep the sights aligned as you pull the trigger smoothly backwards."

QJ loaded the weathered old Model 17-3, brought it to sights, and pulled the trigger. He peered at the target. "There," I pointed. "In the cardboard about a foot underneath." QJ squeezed off the remaining five shots, and his results were not much better.

"This thing won't shoot."

"Do you need me to shoot it again?" I asked. He shook his head. "Look Q, once you can shoot a double action revolver accurately, there will be very few handguns that you cannot shoot well. Click to enlargeIt's all in the trigger control. Marksmanship is 10% sight alignment. Any chimp can do that. Ilsa can align sights if taught how. Marksmanship is in controlling the fingers on your hands so you don't pull the sights out of alignment while pulling the trigger. 90% of marksmanship is trigger control."

I extended my hand, cupped my lower three fingers and then curled my index finger slowly back. My lower three fingers remained in place. "You must train your index finger to operate independently of the rest," I said. "It must do it's job alone. I want you to try again. Think less about aligning sights, more about controlling your hands and your fingers. Make the pull smooth, steady, sure. Do not let your sights wander, but keep the trigger pull consistent. Don't jerk it, and don't fret over it. Just pull it." I picked up the revolver and showed QJ the rate that I wanted him to pull the trigger.

QJ loaded his tormentor again, and raised it to sights. This time he was on the paper with a couple of hits in the black. "Work on it," I told him. "When you can get all six in the black with this revolver, you will be blasting X rings with your Buckmark. A double action revolver accepts no excuses. You must have your fundamentals together to shoot one well." As I watched, QJ continued to put lead down range. I was pleased to see him quickly improve as he worried less about sight alignment and more about trigger control.

As QJ continued to shoot the 22 caliber revolver, I returned to my range bag. I pulled ou a stainless Model 67-1 and laid it on the bench. I placed a box of .38 specials beside it. "I think you are ready," I told him. QJ emptied the 22 revolver and laid it on the bench, cylinder open. He opened the white box of thirty-eights.

"Wow, these are big."

"The fundamentals are the same," I said. "Steady, consistent squeeze to the rear with the sights aligned. The gun firing should be a surprise. There will be more recoil. It won't hurt you."

QJ loaded the revolver, raised it to sights. Click to enlargeHis grip on the gun wasn't perfect, but I did not correct him. Too much instruction can be a bad thing, overwhelming a student. QJ managed to get all shots on the paper, double action. Today's mission was accomplished. After a few more cylinders on the Model 67, he decided to return to his Browning. Bulls eye! He was transferring over what he had learned on the revolvers to the pistol.

As we were packing to leave, a man showed up with an long barreled X frame Smith & Wesson. "Let's watch him," I said to Q.

We settled on the bench behind the firing line and observed the loading of the weapon. The shooter rotated his shoulders a couple of times and raised it to sights. BLAM! "Jesus!" exclaimed QJ. X ring.

"Keep watching Q....."

BLAM! Dirt in front of the target frame. BLAM! Berm. BLAM! Cardboard. BLAM! Cardboard. "Remember QJ, you need to be able to consistently put all rounds where you want, no matter what." We continued to watch as the man put away his over sized hand cannon and opened a box containing a black Sig P229. We watched him fire a couple of magazines through the gun, peppering the paper. I instructed QJ to watch the double action/single action function, as well as the shooters trembling hands.

As we were getting up to leave, the fellow firing the Sig offered to let QJ fire a few rounds through his pistol. QJ was surprised, but accepted the opportunity. Not being greatly familiar with Sigs, I quickly inquired as to the caliber. 9mm. Good. QJ shoved a magazine into the pistol, and methodically fired off ten rounds. When he laid the pistol down and turned back around, a huge grin was across his face.

Q's safety consciousness and concentration on marksmanship paid off. His targets were good. His attitude and progress was even better. We stopped at a truck stop on the way home to get a Coke for me and an Icee for QJ. As we discussed what he had learned and accomplished, QJ asked me "Why did that guy let me shoot his gun?"

"People who shoot want other people to shoot," I replied. "There isn't a more inclusive group of Americans around. He recognized you as a good guy, someone learning to shoot. He wanted to help. You exercising your rights helps him preserve his. We are all partners in preserving the second amendment."

So, for QJ, here are a couple of "old men" firing their "old man guns." Enjoy.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

hmm... sig
i have one, a first generation sig p226.
use the gun on the range (27 and 54 yards) and for dynamic shooting.

your student is doing very well, i used a sig mosquito to improve my trigger pull on the 54 yards range. after half an hour i managed to put the rounds on a surface of 8 x 8 inch.


1:55 AM  
Blogger MauserMedic said...

There's few things that give me the warm fuzzies as helping some one learn to shoot, and having them enjoy it.

The only problem is that our range allows ONE non-member shooting visit per lifetime. Then it's pay up or stay out. Been working on changing that for years, but we have a dedicated clique of "always been that way / to many members is bad" shooters blocking it. Makes it hard to do what your doing so well.

2:51 AM  
Anonymous Jeff said...

You're not going to be teaching in Indianapolis any time soon are you?

9:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is that cameraman downrange, between the two targets that are shot in an instant?

10:17 AM  
Anonymous Jerry said...

Outstanding! With fewer and fewer people being raised in areas where firearms are part of the "Way of life" it becomes so important for experienced shooters to introduce others to the sport. Once they see that the firearms dont miracously jump up from the table and start indiscriminately shooting people the soon "Get it". I silently lick the tip of my trigger finger and "Chalk another one up for the good guys". Nice work!

10:35 AM  
Anonymous Jack said...

Great post!

11:31 AM  
Blogger Old NFO said...

Well done X! A friendly range is nice, at ours we are allowed up to 4 guests per visit, but only one on the line at a time.

12:06 PM  
Blogger Xavier said...

Alas Jeff, no. thanks for the compliment though... :-)

3:30 PM  
Blogger Xavier said...

I'm pretty certain it's a tripod Anon..

3:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jerry Miculek is a god. If one day I'm rich (ah!), one of my ambitions is to go to Louisiana and take his revolver courses.

I already own a "Jerry Miculek" 627 V-Comp: all I need know is learn how to use it :-)

5:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

> With fewer and fewer people
> being raised in areas where
> firearms are part of the
> "Way of life" it becomes so
> important for experienced
> shooters to introduce others
> to the sport.

If there were ranges nearby and/or where the rules weren't more restrictive than a power-hungry home-owners-association, I would.

But since there isn't, I've given up on doing that. Planning a trip to the range is like planning an out-of-town day trip.

And this is something the gun culture has not addressed, because they're stuck doing things the way they've always done. It's easier to point fingers at Brady, Schumer, Feinstein, etc. (and rightly so), rather than ask "What have we been doing wrong?" "What have we been doing to discourage private gun ownership?"

8:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

> I allowed him to dry fire the gun in double action.

> the weathered old Model 17-3,

Is it safe to dry fire a S&W 17 (or any other .22 S&W revolver)?

I thought that dry-firing rimfires was discouraged, because the firing pin hits the side of the empty chamber.

7:43 AM  
Blogger Xavier said...

Some older rimfire pistols should not be dry fired because the firing pin will contact the breechface and eventually dent it, mashing metal into the chamber. The firing pin will also be damaged, if not broken.

Because of the recessed chamber, the firing pin of the Model 17 does not contact the breechface. Thus it is safe to dry fire. It should not be fired rapidly, either with dry or live fire due to the increased weight of the K frame 22 caliber cylinder. Doing so places excessive wear on the hand the cylinder stop, and the cylinder stop recesses in the cylinder.

The Ruger MKII the Ruger 10/22 and the Browning Buckmark are also safe to dry fire, as the firing pin is stopped before the breechface is struck.

Other rimfire firearms may be different.

9:26 AM  

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