By June 11, 2007

Sixguns and sight pictures

Lady Jaye, Teach, Ninja Mary and I went out to the shooting range yesterday. I hadn’t been in a few months, and it was at least six months since Lady Jaye had been to the range. When I took Teach and Ninja Mary out in January we fired my shotgun, my .22 rifle, and my Glock 27. This time they wanted to try out some revolvers. I took my G27 and my Marlin 60 rifle again. I needed to practice with my daily carry handgun and I always enjoy shooting the Marlin, the first firearm that was ever “mine.”

I am fairly certain Teach and Ninja Mary rented a Smith & Wesson Model 36 and a S&W Model 64. They are both chambered for .38 Special, which was what I recommended. I was hoping that the range had some heavier, .357-capable revolvers for them to shoot .38s through, but in the end everything turned out okay. The important lesson learned for the day was that when it comes to firearms, one size fits none.

First up was the Model 36. It had a smaller, thinner grip than the Model 64. It had a slightly longer barrel but overall was lighter. Ninja Mary liked this revolver the best, as her hands were better suited to the smaller grip. Teach preferred the Model 64. His man-paws felt more comfortable around the thicker, rubberized grips. He also liked the additional weight of the M64. I expected both of them to remark that the heavier barrel and more robust frame of the 64 helped them better manage recoil. I was somewhat surprised to hear that Ninja Mary did not find this to be the case. From my mental notes I believe Ninja Mary shot better with the M36, especially when she shot “pistolero” style: sideways with the revolver in her dominant hand, off-hand on her hip. I was disappointed in the double-action trigger pull of the M36, it was very very long and took a lot of pressure to get the hammer going.

The first thing I noticed was that both revolvers we rented had very poor rear sights — just a notch in the frame. The front sight was a typical blade-style. The shooting range is dimly lit to begin with, and even though the targets were only seven yards away I was afraid it would be difficult for Ninja Mary and Jeremy to properly obtain a sight picture. In contrast, my Glock 27 has aftermarket tritium combat sights for easier snap target acquisition. I am not sure if it was second-time jitters, the biomechanics of their hands and the revolvers they rented, or difficulty using the sights, but they both shot less accurately and less precisely than they did with my Glock 27. It was probably a combination of everything.

Regardless of what they want to shoot, I am just glad that they still want to shoot. I’ve taken quite a few new shooters out, and it makes me especially happy when they come back for repeats. Teach and Ninja Mary were both shooting better by the end of the day, and that they both had a great time. Both shooters replied that they enjoyed shooting the revolvers more than my G27, which also did not surprise me. The G27 is a carry pistol, much lighter, shoots a more potent cartridge, and is 100% business. I don’t think very many people “enjoy” shooting carry guns (and lightweight carry revolvers are no exception). When comparing carry guns to their full size and weight counterparts, people tend to gravitate towards the heavier, smoother shooting end of the spectrum.

One person who loves my G27 is Lady Jaye. She put well over 100 rounds through my Glock yesterday, and had an epiphany: by adjusting her grip on the pistol from the web of her hand (betwixt thumb and index finger) to more in the “meat” of the area between, she was able to shoot much more accurately. Apparently she was squeezing her entire hand right before making a shot, and as such her rounds were striking to the three o’clock of her aim. After adjusting her grip, she was much more on center. I need her to teach me the same technique the next time we go shooting to see if that will help my bad habit, which is squeezing more than just my index finger when I work the trigger.

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3 Comments on "Sixguns and sight pictures"

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  1. Ben says:

    Where do you shoot at? I have had VERY little luck around this area. The ranges are members-only and thus are not accesible for me. Becoming a member of them is not an option at this point. Some of their requirements for membership are not what I want to do.

    So, if you’re ever up for a mini-meet gun shooting day, I have a few hundred 9mm rounds that could make their way to your neck of the woods.

  2. drfaulken says:

    We shoot at Dominion Shooting Range. It’s not ideal — it’s indoor only so they only allow you to shoot pistol cartridges and shotguns. The people that run the joint are nice, and my favorite thing about the range is that it’s very accommodating and welcoming to all levels of shooters. On the flip, the facility is not all that great and you have to buy their ammo. I’m guessing it’s for profits as much as it is for insurance. For example, it’s $16 for a box of .40 if you don’t have an annual pass.

    We’d really like it if you came up. I have a fairly active schedule during the week, but it would be cool to meet on the weekend. We got there about 30 minutes after the range opened on Sunday and had it mostly to ourselves. Let me know. 🙂

  3. Gremlin says:

    Usually the main reason for having to buy range ammo for indoor use is the lead. A standard bullet doesn’t have a copper jacket on the base of the bullet. Indoor range ammo has a copper jacket all the way around the base. That way the gun powder doesn’t have a chance to vaporize some lead and have everybody breathing lead. In order to shoot regular rounds indoors, you need a very nice filtered exhaust system so you don’t end up spewing lead all over the neighborhood. I’ve been looking at setting up an indoor range in my town. In addition to some very high upfront costs for the ventilation system and backstop construction, I also need to know how to dispose of the lead contaminated filters.