Saturday, July 10, 2010

Momentary Rodeo

A typical range report reads something like: “Except for the Magpul polymer magazines and the Vortex SPARC red dot optics, my AR-15 was stock. I shot 500+ rounds of Hornady FMJ without any failures-to-fire or failures-to-eject. I did get a few jams with Brown Bear 5.56, but you’ll get that with Russian ammo.”

Some range reports read a little different.

After a month of 11-hour days, Friday feels like it should be a vacation day and I take it. I put my boys Sigmund and Gaston in their car seats (that would be, the Sig Sauer and the Glock secure in a padded range bag, a Christmas present from Jill). After a Starbucks stop to charge my cylinders with a medium blackeye, I drive east on State Road 38.

Windows down and a blue midsummer Indiana sky, I'm wheeling past farm implement dealers, well-maintained barns, and corn growing strong. Zac Brown and Toby Keith loud on the radio, it occurs to me that the older I get, the more I like country music.

The air through the window carries the clean smell of dark earth and horses and green growing things, and recalls age thirteen: baling hay and growing up out at Mooney’s farm, playing barn tag, shooting rifles, riding horses, square dancing, milking cows.

Against this, I contrast the air of the garage tunnel I pass through daily on my way to work. Dank and hot and with the faint smell of urine, I imagine this is what it feels like going into a coal mine.

I prefer the morning air here, now heading east along US-36 into Henry County.

Making my way through Pendleton, Emporia, Mechanicsburg, and then into the small town of Sulphur Springs, I note The Iron Kettle diner off to my right, and wonder if I’ll have time to stop for a tenderloin on my way home. Finally passing through Mt. Summit, I turn south onto IN-103 and roll into the range at Wilbur Wright Fish and Wildlife Area.

Bob the DNR officer is on duty, sitting in the cab of his state-issue pickup under a shade tree with the doors swung open. We trade waves and “howyadoins” and “justfines” and “beautifuldayhuhs.”

The pistol range is clear, save for a rangy older gent on the far lane, practicing with a couple of small-caliber pistols.

He waves and calls out, “You want to put up targets?”

“Sure enough,” I say.

We each stroll down to the backstop, him to check his groupings, me to staple up a fresh target. A Friday morning away from work, temps in the low 80s with a nice breeze going, and nobody’s in a hurry about nothing.

I load up and put a couple magazines through the Glock. Feeling the recoil run up my arms and through my shoulders, each shot is like a momentary rodeo in my hands. Holding the ropes on a surly bronc, staying on top, and wary of the risk that goes with losing your concentration and having that power turn on you, bucking you off and stomping you flat.

A few magazines through the Sig give testament to the skill of my gunsmith buddy, Nick. A repaired, newly staked, and formerly shifty TruGlo front sight budges not a millimeter.

Clearing the Sig and setting it down on the wooden shooting bench, I look down the line to my left to see how my range neighbor is doing. I appraise his stance, his grip, what he does with his index finger when he’s not on target, whether he’s putting the muzzle on anything it shouldn’t be on. Looks good. Looks competent. I walk down to say howdy.

We shake. He says his name is John and he’s from Greenfield. He’s mid 60s, tall and wiry, wearing a tee-shirt and broken-in jeans and a “107.9 WTPI” ball cap.

John says he’s soon to retire and hoping to make it out the door with his 20 before his company moves the rest of its Indiana jobs out of state. We talk about this day and how'd you get so lucky to be off work? We trade opinions on the Second Amendment and muse why the Founders must have thought it important enough to place it #2 in the line-up, and not eighth or ninth. From the trees, cicadas hum along.

We talk about how he likes his Smith & Wesson AirLite and how his wife prefers the Beretta Model 21, and how that little AirLite was perfect to slip into his pocket when they go out for their nightly walks.

We each take a turn on the other’s firearms, him putting a magazine through each of mine, me firing a round of Stingers through his Beretta, each complimenting the feel of the other’s pistols. We talk about how it was good to be free men on the range on a sunny day in America.

It's an hour later and we shake and say have a good one and hope to see you out here again. I drive off thinking that during an hour on the range, I’d actually had a pistol on target for maybe 10 minutes.

I think how that is just fine by me.


Anonymous said...

Hi - I am really delighted to discover this. great job!

Joe said...

Hi there... glad you liked it. Are you a shooter?

Joe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.