Quitting Time: When to Pack Up Your Rifle and Go Home

I was at the range the other day to sight in a pair of Gunsite Scout rifles whose barreled actions had been out of the stock for the installation of real, i.e. Timney, triggers. Also, both had their scopes re-mounted in Leupold QRW rings, which are so ideally suited to this style of rifle that I feel safe in saying that anyone who doesn’t use them has less sense than the beasts of the field.

Alongside me was a fellow who shoots mostly in competition and gets better scores at 600 yards with iron sights than I can with a scope. He is as careful, thorough, and meticulous a rifleman as I know of, and spends as much time at the range as any of the coots, geezers, and retirees who inhabit the place. But each of us was there only 15 minutes or so. The .308 Scout took maybe 5 minutes to re-sight. The 5.56 Scout, despite being taken apart, the new rings, etc., went back to ¼-minute of angle of where it had been before, so, to justify my trip to the range, I put on one click right windage and called it quits.

So did my friend. He accomplished whatever he wanted to and packed up his stuff—he has even more stuff than I do, so it was not a casual decision. I said: “We’ve both learned not to screw around, I see.”

“Yeah,” he said, “I wish I could get it across to some of the people I see here that after a while, you just don’t gain anything.”

There comes a point in the affairs of men when trying to shave a few hundredths of an inch from a group, or swapping out a perfectly good barrel for a new one with some baroque “improvement” over the old one, or messing with a trigger that already works, or buying a new scope, or getting your zero absolutely perfect, down to the quarter-inch, will not help.

The first year I shot ATA trap I went through, I think, seven guns between May and September. I finally settled on three Remington 1100s, which I used in rotation. One I shot. One stayed in the trunk of my car for when the shooter broke. One was at the gunsmith being fixed. I never did better shooting than with those three 1100s.

Eventually, I settled on one of the less expensive Perazzis, which I got in 1985 and which has never been altered. I shoot it good and I shoot it bad, but I don’t screw around with it. I will use whatever reputable brand of ammo I can get cheapest, and if I’m on, the birds break, and if I’m not on, they don’t break.

Why fuss endlessly when you could be home reading Hillary Rodham Clinton’s new book, “How to Spend Your Life in ‘Public Service,’ End up Worth $31.3 million, and Stay Out of Prison, All in Your Spare Time”?