For the first time in what seems like ages! Had a mixed-lot cowboy match in Boulder yesterday...all my fault, to be sure. I bought out a new old shotgun, a 1901-vintage Winchester '97 I picked up a few years back at the LGS for $100. It laid around for a long time, then I sent it to Tom at Old West Gun Repair to see whether it'd blow up if I shot it. In what shouldn't have been a surprise to me, it took a hellish amount of work to undo 109 years of brutal abuse...Tom discovered the old solid frame gun was a special order from Winchester, with lots of little surprises waiting for him as he overhauled the old dog. I got it back at Winter Range and have been traveling ever since.
I decided to take it out to the match and shoot it without putting a few rounds through it first. I believe I repeatedly say never, ever do this. Well, never, ever do this! Doom on Mikey! In the first stage, the old '97 fought me to a standoff...it jammed in several ways I've never seen a '97 jam, and I thought I'd seen them all over the years. I had hit it with a little oil the night before the match, but I took the gun and re-oiled everything. On the next stage, I focused on running the old gun the way it wanted to be run...1897s don't run like, say, an 870 (or, god forbid, a butter-smooth old Model 12)...it's all blunt trauma. You've got to work the pump like it was a hand pump on a 500-foot well, very definitely, and with feeling. I'd apparently shot my Coyote Cap Chinese knockoff, a far more forgiving gun, so long that I'd forgotten how to run a real, manly '97.
Needless to say, a little more oil and a lot more wham-and-slam turned the old beast into one of the nicest shooting '97s I've ever operated. The little bit longer barrel (24 inches) made it point like a German Shorthair on crack, and with the light target loads I didn't even notice the 19 Century-vestige steel buttplate. Makes me want to put a couple of more dollars in it and get the wood more or less restored...probably less than more.
I was on my way to a clean, fast match until the last stage, which is when I started thinking I was on my way to a clean, fast match. I responded to this thought by pulling the trigger on one of the .44 Specials when the sights were CLEARLY not on the 7-yard gigantic steel bear target, which I could have hit with spit. Once again, I proved conclusively that if your sights are not on the target, the bullet will not hit said target despite the focusing of a huge mental tractor beam to warp the lead back into line.
I may go out to the range for a little while today, shoot a few groups and do a little marksmanship training. This spring I want to focus on the basic skills, tighten up my shooting now that I've gone back to shooting with my right eye as the dominant eye. Last season most of my training focus was on gun-to-gun transitions and movement skills for cowboy matches
The guys from Lipsey's called to say they'd get me a Sheriff's Model 3 1/2-inch .44 Special Vaquero — hopefully by the end of the month. I'm also looking forward to one of the Remington 1911R1s...I should find out when I can lay my hands on one for a longer test by Thursday. If the Remington rocks, I might use it in the Wild Bunch World Championships in August, which we'll be filmIng for SHOOTING GALLERY 2011.
BTW, I think that Walton Goggins (above) has become one of my all-time favorite actors. He rocks on Justified as Timothy Oliphant's nemesis and was masterful as the psychotic Shane on The Shield.