This weekend was a blast… literally. Some friends from Chicago that work with Rob were in Charlotte on business. They decided to stay an extra day and hang out. Since Rob is the local, that left him playing entertainment committee and since I already knew most of the guys we figured we could come up with something fun to do. I mean, hell, it IS North Carolina after all.
In discussion, they let on that they wanted to shoot guns which, around here, is easy. So, this past Saturday I met Rob at Waffle House for breakfast and came up with a plan. The idea was to grab a field at the local skeet/trap range and just spend the day busting clays.
We picked up Rob’s future son in law (assumed, we haven’t actually forced them into it yet) and his brother, Scott, up and then met the guys at their hotel where we did a quick safety briefing in the parking lot. (“if you point one of these things at one of us we’ll hit you…” *shrug* too many years in the military). With that done we loaded up in my truck and their minivan for the skeet range.
As we drove down the gravel drive to the range I could already tell that our plans were shot. (heh, pun, sorry). There was WAY more shooting going on than there should have been for first thing on Saturday morning during hunting season in North Carolina. As it turns out there was a trap tournament going on that day that we hadn’t been told about. The tournament was using all of the fields which left us out in the cold.
My wife was in Atlanta exercising her rights (getting molested/inspected by TSA) so I did what any good redneck would do and said, “well, I guess we can go to my house. “ One of the guys from Chicago said, “Cool! can we blow something up?”
Now, I don’t know what answer he expected from a trio of guys playing token rednecks for their entertainment but I answered the question in the only way that I could.
I said, “Hell yeah!”
They seemed excited by the prospect of blowing stuff up which left me in a bit of a quandary as to what, exactly, we were going to blow up and… well… with what. I mean, I *could* blow things up but I’m past the days of having to worry about the ATF showing up at my parties. That’s not to mention the fact that I’m not big on sharing information on how to do things like that with people that I don’t know. In a quick huddle off to the side wherein I discussed this intention to avoid federal authorities Rob mentioned that it would be great if we only had dry ice. When he said that I remembered that they sell the stuff at the local grocery store. Score.
So, while rob and the four folks from the city went to Wally-world to buy ammo and skeet, Scott and I went to the grocery store for dry ice.
We met back at my house where we discovered that they had bought skeet but no ammo. Luckily, I had a few hundred “spare” number 8 12 gauge loads “laying around”. We dug my skeet thrower out of the shop and set up in the back yard.
Because there were so many of us, eight if you haven’t done the math, one of the rules for the day was that no one would touch a gun unless Rob, Scott or I handed it to them. This turned out to be a great rule and everyone played along nicely. For what it’s worth, Rob and Scott were, like me, raised around guns and I’ve hunted with them both a lot. I trust them implicitly not to shoot me. Interestingly, they don’t have that same trust in each other ( with exceptionally good reasons that differ according to who’s telling the story… what can I say? They’re brothers. )
We quickly fell into a routine that we learned years ago in various professions. As a group we would explain each weapon. How to hold it, how to aim it, how to load it, how to make it safe and how to fire it. With that done, one of us would demonstrate by firing the gun in the same way that we wanted them to do it. Then, as each person took a turn, one of us would stand next to him and walk him through the process helping and correcting safety breaches. That is, mostly reminding them when to flip the safety either on or off (though it’s great fun to let them leave the safety on and see who’s anticipating the shot).
Having taught at a public shooting range I kind of fell into this role while Rob and Scott managed the remainder of the group, threw skeet for us and handed me guns.
To do this safely we let them load one round at a time and fire it at a thrown clay. Hit or miss, you get one shot and then a break during which you get to hear me repeat all of the instructions to the next guy and then the next guy and then the next until it’s really burned into your brain. As people got comfortable with holding a firearm I would start working with them to get the stance more stable and help them with the aiming. This continued until everyone had hit at least one moving clay with the Remington 11-87.
After the shotgun we took a bit of a break and sat on my patio while we showed everyone how to make “bombs”. It’s an old trick that works great and is relatively safe. You just drop a chunk of dry ice into a half filled plastic water bottle, screw the lid on and chunk it down the hill. You get satisfying “boom” with no fire and no Feds. Fun.
When I thought the neighbors might be getting tired of the noise we went back to the “range” (yard) and went through the training cycle again with the .357 Sig. And, yeah, for those that remember a previous post… I DID remember to replace the $52/box hollow points with FMJ “cheapo range” ammo this time. Luckily everyone hit the target on the first or second try so this wasn’t as expensive as it could have been. (score one for 5 meter “ranges” and big targets).
After another short break (and more dry ice fun) we went for the artillery. We had been talking about “the fifty” all day to sort of talk up the experience for the boys and I’m fairly certain that they were underwhelmed when I took Wolf 209 muzzleloader out of its case. That changed as soon as the monster belched smoke and fire for the first time. These guys, none of whom had fired more than a couple of rounds before were suddenly and ceremoniously introduced to black powder shooting. They were, in a word, awestruck. The camera’s came out and posed shots were set up. The smoke and noise of the thing is impressive, even to me, and the wolf is super simple. It didn’t help matters that I took the gun back to the patio between shots and made a production out of cleaning and reloading it while we sat talking.
As they left, I presented them each with a new powerbelt copper series 50 caliber bullet from the muzzleloader. They make nice gifts because they’re cheap, heavy and shiny. One of the guys, even asked for as second one for his other kid.
More than once in our talks on the patio the conversation turned to what needed to be done to purchase and keep a firearm within Chicago city limits and what weapon is best for different home defense scenarios. I did my absolute best to answer the questions.
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