A Nurse with a Gun

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Antique Allure

Frieda joined me at the range today with a 500 round box of Blazer 22 ammunition and the Ruger MKII bequeathed her by her father. She had decided to leave her Taurus snubby at home. In her hands she proudly displayed her own set of muffs. As we signed into the range, Frieda asked about a membership, and then decided to join. One more neophyte shooter is now invested into the past time of shooting.

As we unpacked our gear and approached the firing line, a young man was firing a 10mm hand cannon to our left. Click to enlargeThe concussion and report of the gun shots made Frieda wince. "Don't worry, it's no different than a bass drum, and he won't be shooting it long anyway," I told her. We laid out our gear and took targets out to the ten yard line at the next cold range call. Sure enough, by the time Frieda was on her third magazine, the guy with the 10mm was policing his brass.

It was humid and sticky and a storm was brewing, with a breeze from the Gulf. But rather than wick the sweat from our backs, it stuck dust to our faces. As we checked our targets, Frieda was happy to see that after a month of not shooting, on her second trip, she was getting most of her hits in the red zone. I reminded her to concentrate on he basics. Stable platform, sight alignment, trigger squeeze straight to the rear. "Mainly trigger control," I told her. "You mustn't allow your trigger pull to move the sights out of alignment."

"But I'm doing OK?"

"You're doing fine," I replied, "But you were doing better when we left last time. A month of not reinforcing the new skills has allowed them to erode."

"How often do you practice?" Frieda asked.

"Well, at one time, when I was going into some damned spooky places, I would run at least one magazine of ammunition through my carry gun each day. I could do it then, between seeing patients. I would shoot when my blood sugar was low, and my hands were shaky. I would just pop into the indoor range, fire off eight rounds and be back outside in under fifteen minutes."

"That's hard to do with work......."

"Yeah, I know," I responded. "Nowadays, I try to get to the range at least once a week. Lately, my free time has been more scarce, so I've shot about once every two weeks."

"But you are still shooting the same."

"It's like riding a bicycle, I've been doing it longer, so it will take me longer to lose the skills. Plus, I've been dry firing. Have you been dry firing?" I asked.

"I felt silly."

"It works though. Try it. Just be sure to check your pistol's chamber at least twice before starting. You have a penny?" Frieda produced the copper coin, and when the range went hot, I showed her the dry fire trick with the pence balanced on the front sight of my Gold Cup. Thankfully, it didn't fall.

Frieda checked the chamber of her Ruger and dry fired it. She pulled the bolt back, released it, and dry fired it again. "This will really help?" she asked.

"Yep, but do it at home. We're here to shred some paper." Frieda loaded and shot several more magazines. Then the Blazer ammunition began giving her stovepipe jams. I showed her how to clear the pistol, stressing the importance of keeping the muzzle down range at all times.

"But why is it happening?" she asked.

"Probably that cheap Blazer ammo," I replied.

"Cheap? I paid $23 for this box! Is something wrong with my gun?"

"Why don't you shoot a bit of my Federal ammo and see?" Frieda loaded up another magazine and resumed shooting. She had no further failures. While she was shooting, I went to my range bag and pulled out a surprise. I knew that she collected antiques. When there was a pause in the shooting, I laid a nickel Smith & Wesson M&P revolver in front of her.

"What's that?" she asked.

"It's an old revolver from 1926," I told her. She picked up the old wheelgun and fondled it a bit. "Want to shoot it?" I asked.

"Can I?"

"Sure. It's the same caliber as your Taurus." Regretfully, I had not brought along any cowboy loads. All I had was Winchester White Box, 130 grain target rounds. It's going to kick a bit more than your twenty-two," I informed Frieda.

"It won't be bad though?" she asked cautiously.

"Nothing you can't handle. It will have a long trigger, pull it back smoothly to the rear." I let her dry fire the nickel gun a couple of times, the trigger on the old pre-depression revolver was slicker than Crisco on ice. I loaded six rounds in the cylinder, and Frieda took the gun from me.

The allure of the antique was strong, and the force was with Frieda. She jumped at the first report from the gun, but kept her composure and kept the muzzle pointed down range. Then, determined to shoot the old revolver, she pulled the trigger five more times. Six holes in the red. "And that Frieda, is what a slick trigger and a longer barrel will do for you," I told her. "Your snubby is still better for a carry gun though."

"Can the trigger be made like this one?"

"It will probably never be as good," I replied. "Different design, different tolerances, but you can get used to a thirty-eight with this revolver. Then move to your snubby. This old gun has had eighty-three years to smooth out."

"If I found one with a shorter barrel, could I carry it?"

"No reason you couldn't, assuming you had a license......."

"And you will help me get that?"

Another concealed carrier and old wheelgun aficionado is born.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good job, Xavier. Another gun convert. One new responsible gun owner is worth a thousand posts about the RBKA any day.

Question though--and if you covered this before, my apologies. Isn't dry firing .22's bad for the firing pin? Are Ruger MK's exempt from this?

6:12 AM  
Blogger Xavier said...

The Ruger 22 auto pistols have a piece in the bolt that prevents the firing pin from striking the breechface. As long as it's still installed, dry firing a Ruger is safe for the gun.

Good question,

7:12 AM  
Blogger TrueBlueSam said...

You are going to have some serious competition on your pawn shop circuit now. I hope she finds a good one. When our son was taking violin lessons, one teacher told us that "fingers are stupid." Your brain can remember the song, but the fingers forget it if they don't play it. The same advice applies to shooting.

7:29 AM  
Blogger Joat said...

You have to look at each gun separately the rule that you can dry fire center fire guns but not rimfire ones has exceptions, Ruger 22's can be dry fired, but some Ruger center fires can't like the SR9. On ammo some times you just have to try a few brands to see what a 22 likes, A friend of mine has a Mark II the prefers blazer ammunition.

Now get back to writing about cameras ;)

8:03 AM  
Blogger Xavier said...

You are right Sam. A snubby M&P has been on my short list for a while now.....

8:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great article.

9:07 AM  
Blogger Carl H said...

Teaching new shooters is like Cadmus planting dragon's teeth, for armed citizens spring up behind us.

12:43 PM  
Blogger lee n. field said...

Thumbs up.

Mark II and up are OK to dryfire.

1:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Man, shooting every week. I only wish I had the time and money for that. How much does the ammo you run through your carry gun cost? Or how much did it cost when you ran a mag through every day? Nowadays it's getting increasingly costly to get ammo, I'm having trouble scrounging up enough to take off for a range trip in the desert.


7:51 PM  
Anonymous Alex said...


9:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ha! I just ordered those earmuffs Xavier... what do you think of them??

6:02 AM  
Blogger Xavier said...

Frieda says wearing them is like being underwater... Must work pretty well.....

3:21 PM  
OpenID womenofcaliber said...

Way to go, Frieda! Always invigorating to see other women learning to shoot. Women as a whole are safer for it. http://tinyurl.com/dfq82h

4:24 PM  

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