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  • October 31, 2012

    Consumer Alert!

    By David E. Petzal

    Being an artist, and therefore unconcerned with vulgar commerce, and being disinclined to lead you into temptation for my name’s sake, I try to steer clear of extremely desirable, costly stuff. However, I’m compelled to do so here because I know the provenance of the following rifles, and they’re too good to pass up.

    Safari Outfitters, in Salt Point, NY, has recently come into possession of four custom-made long-range hunting rifles that were commissioned by a fellow whom I know a little bit, and who is as wealthy as some of you think I am. He became interested in taking game at long distances, and had a 1,000-yard range built at which to practice.

    The gunsmith who did work is named Walter Eisserer, an Austrian who came here many years ago after being trained, I believe, in Ferlach. I’ve known Walter for something over 30 years, and he is a craftsman of the first magnitude. All four of the guns are very long and very heavy. Two are built on the Champlin action, which you rarely see, but which is a first-rate piece of machinery. Two have laminated stocks, while two are made with Strike Me Blind walnut. There is a .340 Weatherby, an 8mm Remington, a .280, and a 7mm Remington Magnum. 

  • October 30, 2012

    Recoil: The Enemy of Good Shotgun Shooting

    By Phil Bourjaily

    To climb back onto one of my favorite soapboxes: recoil is the enemy of good shotgun shooting. I saw that again last weekend when I helped the local Pheasants Forever chapter with its youth pheasant hunt. My job was to give the kids a little shotgun instruction before they went hunting. Mostly I tried to make sure they could take off the safety and mount the gun and shoot at a pheasant while not endangering a dog. The kids ranged from 12 to 15 and from nearly adult size to tiny. There was a stack of Remington 870 Youth and standard size 20 gauges and regular 7/8 ounce target loads for them to shoot. Having done this before, I brought along a supply of Winchester Feathers and Fiocchi trainers just in case.

    One younger kid in particular kept shooting over targets. That’s often a sign of head lifting caused consciously or unconsciously by wanting to get your face away from the gun that’s hurting it.

    I asked him: “Does that gun hurt?”

    “Oh no” he said.

    That was a stupid question. Boys and girls both will rarely admit a gun hurts them, especially in front of other kids. You have to watch them carefully to tell for yourself. 

  • October 29, 2012

    Pursuing Perfection as a Shooter

    By David E. Petzal

    Amidst the horror of the recent Olympics, I noticed that a great many of the competitors were not extraordinary talents like Michael Phelps, but simply people of above-average ability whose dedication was extraordinary. There was an Irish gymnast who had sustained a catastrophic injury years before and had been told that he would never walk again, yet here he was. There was a member of the American women’s diving team who had once hit the water wrong, smashed her guts, and nearly died. Yet here she was, back on the platform.

    When Vince Lombardi took over the Green Bay Packers, he told them that they were going to pursue perfection. They would not achieve it, he said, but in the process they would attain excellence. He worked them nearly to death, but they became the dominant football team of the 1960s and a good many of the men to whom he spoke went into the Hall of Fame.

    Which brings us to my friend Tony M. whom, you may recall, turned in a zero (in a practice round) because he forgot to sight in his rifle. You may also recall my telling you that he was the hardest-working, most meticulous, and best-prepared rifle shooter I know. Just after the zero, this paid off.

  • October 26, 2012

    On Guns, Cars and Distracted Drivers

    By David E. Petzal

    As Phil and I have noted, we’re doing a series of radio interviews to promote "The Total Gun Manual" which, I understand, may get us a Nobel Prize. (If Barack Obama can get a Nobel for doing absolutely nothing, why shouldn’t we collect one for putting out the greatest gun book ever written?) Most of the talk-show hosts I’ve encountered have been completely ignorant about guns, and admitted it, and did good interviews. However, along the way I’ve gotten some odd questions, and a couple of hostile ones. Some examples:

    Have I ever shot anyone? (No, just unlucky I guess.)

    Am I armed, right now, this minute? (No. The most dangerous thing in the vicinity is the cat, who is in his morning coma.)

    Are you going to shoot us? (No, you’re in another part of the U.S., and way out of rifle range.)

    My favorite, though, was: “What if you get crosswise of someone who has road rage and a gun?”

  • October 23, 2012

    2012 Presidential Election: Thank God They Can't Both Win*

    By David E. Petzal

    Once every four years it’s my duty to fight down my gag reflex and discuss the presidential election. But before I do so, I have to emphasize that what follows are my opinions and mine alone, not those of Field & Stream, or Phil Bourjaily, or anyone else.

    So, let us begin. Basically, whoever wins, the country is still in deep trouble. Neither candidate has a clue about how to solve any of our major problems. Congress is so useless that it would be incapable of declaring war on the Empire of Japan the day after Pearl Harbor.

    So, ignoring all our other dreadful problems, let’s turn to guns, and start with some general facts.

  • October 23, 2012

    Video: Pumpkin Carving With a 1911

    By Phil Bourjaily

    Being easily impressed by any feat of handgunning skill, I think this video is kind of cool. Yes, our carver is sitting close to the pumpkin but he is still pretty steady with that 1911. I am not sure there would be much left of the pumpkin if I tried carving it with a handgun.

  • October 22, 2012

    Handloading: Tips on Picking Powders

    By David E. Petzal

    Since the more intelligent among you have asked for more handloading posts, here’s one. One of the questions all beginners have is, how on earth do I select a powder, there being so many on the market? Here are a few tips on that and powders generally:

    It makes sense to stick with families of powders, at least until you get to know the territory. For example, if you get RelodeR 15, 19, 22, and 25, you’ll find there are very few rifle cartridges you can’t stuff successfully. Or IMR 4320, 4350, 4831, and 7828.

    Do not limit yourself to one type of primer, as they all burn differently, and they have a major impact on accuracy. For example, for large rifle cartridges I keep CCI 200, CCI 250, WLR, Federal 210, Federal 210M, and Federal 215 primers on my shelves. Federal 215 magnum primers, for example, burn longer than CCI 250s, which are also magnum primers, and in almost every case, one will work better than the other.

  • October 19, 2012

    No Instruction Is Sometimes the Best Instruction

    By David E. Petzal

    Before we get around to shooting, let us for a moment reflect on how far we have fallen by remembering Bess Truman, First Lady and wife of Harry Truman. Mrs. Truman’s predecessor was Eleanor Roosevelt, who was the Hillary Clinton of her time in terms of popularity and influence. Unlike Eleanor, however, Bess Truman detested Washington, politics, and in particular the press. During her time as First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt had held a weekly press conference, and so when Bess Truman got the job, she was asked when she would hold hers.

    “There aren’t going to be any press conferences,” said Mrs. Truman, and she meant it. During Harry Truman’s eight years in the Oval Office, she held only one, which consisted of written questions submitted in advance, and of which many were answered, “No comment.”

    Much of the time, Bess Truman did not even live in Washington. Imagine that today.

    But let us now reflect on shooting technique, because there is a right way and a wrong way to do things, and, the conventional wisdom has it, if you shoot the right way you will hit, and if you shoot the wrong way you will miss. Mostly this is true. When I shot Sporting Clays a little while back I saw some truly dreadful gunnery, and it was happening because the shooters responsible were doing everything wrong.

  • October 19, 2012

    Hunting Tip: Use Surveyor's Tape to Mark Downed Birds

    By Phil Bourjaily

    Losing my hat convinced me to start bringing surveyor’s tape to the field. I have written before about the importance of marking the spot where gamebirds fall. Even when dogs are present I make the effort to see exactly where birds fall, but when I don’t have a dog along, it becomes very important to mark the spot where a bird hits the ground, stare right at and go straight to it immediately. Usually I will drop my cap at the site of my mark so I have a reference point to search around if I can’t find the bird right away. You start at the mark and make increasingly larger circles around it until you find the bird.

    Back to my hat: it was an Avery cap in Buckbrush camo that I was rather fond of. Earlier this season I dropped a dove in some standing corn. I went straight to it and hung the hat on a cornstalk as a marker. Bad idea. While I eventually found the dove I never did find my hat again, which I guess is some kind of endorsement of the camo pattern.

  • October 18, 2012

    Kent Fasteel: Reliable, Nontoxic Shot for Waterfowl

    By Phil Bourjaily

    Years ago I was in Stuttgart, Arkansas with the president of a company that made expensive non-toxic shot. He was expounding on the theme that ammunition is a small part of the overall price of hunting, and that most hunters don’t shoot many shells in a season. Therefore, he said, the average hunter could afford his shells, which then cost about $2 apiece.

    To prove his point, he turned to our guide and asked, “How many boxes of shells do you shoot in a year?”

    He asked the wrong guy. Kenny guided every day of duck and goose season. He thought for a moment and said “About seven cases.”

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