Petzal: I May End Up Buying a Modern Sporting Rifle

The club I belong to is mostly middle-aged, and mostly traditional as far as guns go, and when we had our most recent competition our president encouraged the use of Modern Sporting Rifles (MSRs) to bring out the young punks and their firearms.

I'd guess we had 35 shooters, and probably about a third had MSRs. The course of fire consisted of two 5-shot strings in one minute each at 200 yards, prone, no slings. The targets were a man-sized steel silhouette with a 6-inch center bull. Hit the silhouette, 5 points. Hit the bull, 10 points. The second target was a plain hanging strip of orange-painted steel, 8" deep by 3" wide. A hit got you 5 points.

What made it more complicated was that the targets jumped and swung when you hit them; you had to let them stop bouncing before you shot again, while at the same time keeping track of how many seconds you had left.

There were 4 finalists, each with a score of 70. Of the 4, 3 shot MSRs--two .308s and one .223--which was all out of proportion to the total number among the contestants. The fourth finalist was myself with a bolt-action. We shot a tie-breaker, offhand, and I regret to inform you that I did not win, as time has eroded my skills, along with a lot else.

But what impressed me was how much easier it was for those three guys than it was for the bolt-action people. All three shooters were very good anyway, but they just lay there and tore through the five rounds. The other thing that impressed me was how many people there are who don't know how to cycle a bolt-action. They fussed and they fumbled and fought and ran out of time.

I may end up buying an MSR. At this stage of the game it's hard to justify spending the money on any new gun, but what the hell, it might make me young again.