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  • April 29, 2010

    Bourjaily: Why I Hate Hunting From Turkey Blinds

    By Phil Bourjaily

    The last split of our turkey season opened this morning.  As always, I dropped my son at school and got to the woods around 8:00. By 8:30 I had already missed a gobbler.*  No big deal: I got to keep hunting, the turkey got  to keep breathing. We were both okay with it.

    What upset me more than missing a turkey was seeing two young guys toting shotguns, a bag of three or four decoys, and a popup blind into the woods. These two kids are part of a whole generation of hunters  (plenty of their elders around here hunt this way now too) who think sitting inside a folding nylon cube is how you hunt turkeys.

  • April 28, 2010

    Petzal: All About Barrels, and the End of Days

    By David E. Petzal

    I’m getting lots of questions lately about the End of Days, and about which barrels I recommend, so let’s do the easy subject first. Yes, it’s coming. December 20, 2012, is the end. You don’t think all the earthquakes and volcanic eruptions are coincidence, do you? Get your affairs in order.

    Now about barrels.

  • April 27, 2010

    Bourjaily: The Abandoned German Shorthair Epidemic

    By Phil Bourjaily

  • April 26, 2010

    Petzal: Why You Should (or Should Not) Buy a Custom Rifle

    By David E. Petzal

    First, let’s define our terms. A true custom gun is a one-of-a-kind rifle stocked in wood with a price tag of $10,000 and up. What I’m blathering about are synthetic-stocked semi-custom rifles, made in small numbers, to standardized designs, by shops employing two to ten people, and carrying price tags of $3,000 to $6,000.

  • April 23, 2010

    Petzal: Why Dry Firing a Rifle Can Help You Shoot Better

    By David E. Petzal

    One of the most useful tools in the ongoing struggle to shoot good is dry firing—aiming and snapping the trigger with no ammo in the chamber. Dry firing had no greater champion than the late Creighton Audette, a gunsmith, a friend of mine, and a high-power competitor who was good enough to shoot on the Palma Team, and coach it. “Recoil,” he said, “is a form of distraction.” He believed that any serious shooter should do far more dry-firing than practice with live ammo. (Creighton also said “Everyone should have at least one gun the government doesn’t know about,” if you need any further proof of his wisdom.)

  • April 22, 2010

    Bourjaily: An Important Rule of Turkey Hunting

    By Phil Bourjaily

    My own latest turkey hunting story is a sad tale of humiliation, complete with an audience to my bumbling. Someday I will be able to look back on it and laugh. That day is not yet here. So instead we’re going to talk about my friend Phil (this is not some cute way of writing about myself in the third person. My friend is a guy named Phil) who told me a turkey story with a happy ending. Phil says his success was a result of being lucky, not good. I say it was the result of obeying one of hunting’s most important rules.

  • April 21, 2010

    Petzal: How to Buy a Rifle

    By David E. Petzal

    I got an e-mail last week from a budding gun nut who owns a factory .30/06 in the low medium-price range. He’s dissatisfied with it, not because it doesn’t work, but because like every gun nut he’s an inveterate tinkerer, experimenter, and worshipper of the Great What If. He asked about a replacement stock, a new barrel, and a trigger job, and I pointed out that he was, in effect, throwing out the original purchase price of the rifle because the only thing he was keeping was the action. I used to do this all the time.

    There are only three rational courses to pursue when buying a rifle:

  • April 19, 2010

    SKBs To Be Made in Europe?

    By Phil Bourjaily

    Early this year the SKB factory in Japan closed its doors after 155 years in the gun business.  The owners cited the declining American shotgun market, the need to modernize equipment and an aging workforce. The average SKB worker is 70 and there are no young workers  in the town of Tomobe coming along to replace them.

    The factory closing is sad news for shotgunners.  Imported by Ithaca, Weatherby and under its own name, SKB have always been solid, well-crafted mid-priced guns. I’ve owned three, and still have a Model 100 side by side, an excellent featherlight grouse gun. Unfortunately I don’t own the gun I’m shooting in the picture: the new GC7 target gun.  It has a host of competition-ready features, an adjustable comb, and sells for under $2000. Like all SKB O/Us, it locks very solidly by means of a Greener style top cross bolt.

  • April 16, 2010

    Petzal on Accuracy Guarantees

    By David E. Petzal

    There's one more aspect of rifle quality that we’ve touched on but not really covered, and that’s like running over a snake only once. There are now a number of makers who guarantee their rifles will shoot into an inch, or an inch and a half, or under an inch. What this means is that someone at the factory who could actually shoot fired one three-shot group at an indoor range, using match ammo. This is a guarantee of potential, not real-world, accuracy, because the rifle may be bought by someone who can’t hold a rifle steady on a rest, lives in Kansas where the wind never stops, and feeds the gun the crummiest low-rent ammo he can find.

  • April 15, 2010

    Bourjaily: Dial in Your Preshot Routine

    By Phil Bourjaily

    I serve as assistant coach for my son’s high school trap team which has been practicing for a few weeks now (that’s Dave, our head coach, in the picture with one of our shooters). Having watched a lot of kids shoot in the past month, I can tell you when one of our shooters is about to miss before he or she ever calls for the target.

    If a kid waits for much more than a second between mounting the gun and calling “pull,” chances are he or she will miss. Taking too long and trying to get too ready kills their rhythm and gives negative thoughts time to creep into their heads. Taking too much time is just as bad as not taking enough time.

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