On Range Days...
I’m almost ashamed to say it, but I did something recently that I don’t do very often these days. A friend and I left work early this past Friday to hit one of the local indoor shooting ranges. 10 years ago, an event like this wouldn’t have been anything out of the ordinary – but today – it marks the first time I’ve shot a gun in several months.
The range trip was part of a grand plan my friend and I put together… Okay, it’s actually a pretty pathetic plan, if I’m honest. We plan to force ourselves (pathetic, right?) to get out to a timed “steel” match at Rio Salado Sportsmen’s Club before the end of winter. These are things we used to do once a month. I haven’t shot a match since my wife and I moved into our current home over three years ago! How in the hell are we going to shoot respectable scores with that many cobwebs slowing us down? I’m not an ultra-competitive person, but scoring below mid-pack in a steel match full of newly minted shooters who haven’t figured out the difference between a slide lock and a magazine release on their own guns isn’t very fun. In order to avoid embarrassing the hell out of ourselves as best we can, we scheduled this past Friday as a practice day.
Friday came. I didn’t even have to pack my range bag. It had been sitting at the ready – my H&K VP9, mags, eyes, ears, ammo, hat and all – for five months (shit! FIVE months!). Without being too hard on myself for being so lazy, I’ll just fast forward a bit and say that I had a great time. Obviously, I was very rusty, but that didn’t get in the way of a semi-respectable performance on target. After about 150 rounds or so, my accuracy started to take a hit. By then, we had been at the range for a couple of hours, which made it a convenient spot to call it a day and go home.
Thinking too much...
As I braved the tail end of Phoenix-area evening rush hour traffic on the way home, a few thoughts made their way out of the recesses of my subconscious and into the spotlight. Since you’re still with me, I’ll share a few that I’ve been pondering:
Enthusiasm for your hobbies really never dies… if you truly love them, that is. I’m a pretty typical guy, with three hobbies I’m serious about. Guns, making music, and my vehicle habit all compete for my precious free time. Life being what it is, I may go a few months without shooting, or even a year without spending time in my makeshift studio (which is currently down due to needing a few serious equipment upgrades). When I get the time to pick them back up, it feels like I never really left them. Because of this, I try to not beat myself up too much about spending time away from my hobbies. In the past, I’ve taken months or years at a time to educate myself on things like personal finance or landscape design, and I’ve become a more well-rounded person for doing so. I encourage you to do the same.
As a counterpoint, if your latent hobbies don’t ever make you want to come back – you should consider simplifying your life by dropping them.
For a gun guy, a range day is the best therapy. As always, the trip was therapeutic; if you’re reading this, you know what I’m talking about. There’s something about the focus a Shoot-n-C target brings to the mind.
One gun at a time. Speaking of focus – I encourage you shooters with large collections to leave the majority of your guns at home when you hit the range. A great firearms instructor once told me that you only have about 150 good shots in you each and every range session. Any fewer, and you aren’t at peak performance. Any more, and you are throwing lead downrange (not that it’s necessarily a bad thing). If you plan to become and stay proficient with a firearm, you need to get your repetitions under your belt. It would be best to do that with the SAME gun in a given range session. Trust me, you really won’t be satisfied bringing 5 different guns to a 2-hour range session.
They say that smart people don’t multitask…
Of course, I have trouble following my own advice. I brought my Kahr P9 and my H&K VP9 to this particular range session. In my defense, a shooting buddy asked me to bring the Kahr 5 months ago, so it was still in my bag. My VP9 has been a go-to since I bought it a while ago.
Which brings me to my last point…
The H&K VP9 is a brilliant handgun. I have some absolute darlings in my safe. The Browning Hi-Power. Classic Sig Sauer handguns. The 1911 platform guns. Heck, I even love my Glocks. But the latest iteration of H&K’s autopistol platform is something different. I’ve had a P30 for half a decade. I love it. Something about the ergonomic flexibility just makes it right for me. I literally can’t miss with this thing. Its only downside is that it’s expensive as hell. No matter. They can’t make it any better for less.
And then they made a striker-fired variant with a lower bore axis than the originals. Holy crap! In my opinion, the Heckler & Koch VP series are the best handguns you can buy for the money they charge (and they aren’t very expensive, folks). I’d love to gush on and on about these here, but I think the guns merit their own blog posts. I’ll try to get a review on the site soon.
So that was my first range day of 2017. At least we started off on a good foot. As much as I’d like to say that we’d make this a habit, I know that the rigors of daily life will probably make that steel match something we end up doing in the summer. For now, I’m content.