Category Archives: Shooting

Rifle, Pistol and Shotgun shooting

Shooting With Wesley

Last Saturday Wesley, my Grandson and Paul, his Dad and my Son-In-Law, did some shooting. We spent some real quality time teaching Wesley the finer points of shooting and firearm safety.

Paul had his Dad’s, now his, Remington 511, .22 cal. Rifle. My first rifle was a Remington 510, single shot, that my Dad bought for me in 1945. The two guns are identical except the 511 is drilled and tapped for a scope and is clip fed.

Paul is going over with Wesley correct shooting technique and stressing gun safety!


Wesley is taking aim



His first shot was six o’clock low. Notice the “home made” target. Any used paper plate will do! Earlier, checking out the scope, Paul had nailed his first shot, dead center.

Wesley’s second shot was just off the “bull”. His third shot was in the bull’s eye.

Wesley is now ready to move up to his Dad’s .223 and go after a deer. We’re planning on the second week of the season and I’ll let everyone know about his success!

The Ringer

My last trap shoot was in 1975, at the Moccasin Bend Trap Club, in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and we decided to make a family weekend out of it. The family piled into our camper and we took the leisurely two hour, drive from Sandy Springs, Georgia to Chattanooga and checked into the Chattanooga Choo-Choo, a real neat hotel converted from a bunch of old sleeper cars, complete with a dining car. The kids still talk about it.

We visited “See Ruby Falls”, as advertised on barn tops along the freeway and I hated the elevator ride down to the falls; the Incline Railway, Lookout Mountain Battlefield and Chickamauga, the site of the largest battle fought in the western theatre during our Civil War.

Sunday morning found us on the way to the gun club and I was going to surprise the “good ‘ole boys” in Tennessee. Being a real “hot” shooter out west, but not known east of the Mississippi, I “bought” myself in the Calcutta for the minimum amount, a whopping $3.00.

The featured event was the handicap shoot and I was placed with the long yardage shooters. As is said in trap shooting circles, “I was smokin’ ‘em.” Walking to the last station and leading the shoot with only two misses out of ninety-five clay birds, the thought of my potential winnings, Over $1,000.00 flashed through my mind. Quickly pushing the errant thought out, my concentration returned. And I barked, “Pull!”

The clay pigeon wobbled out of the trap machine, an easy, hard right bird, that I swung on, led and pulled the trigger; no bam, no ignition of the shell, nothing but a fluttering clay bird floating to the ground. The puller/ scorekeeper called out “lost bird” with me just looking funny at my trusty trap model shotgun.

A quick inspection told me that the trigger mechanism had failed. I had five minutes to fix the trigger, or get another gun, otherwise I would be disqualified and my only option was to get my ex-wife’s automatic, with a shortened stock.

Missing three out of the last five clays and finishing second, which paid $200.00, plus another $150.00 from the Calcutta, I thought, so much for a big “hit”! At least we paid for our weekend!

After this shoot, with my day job requiring so much of my time, and my kids being active in sports, at a very young age I retired myself from competitive shooting. As I have mentioned before, “Sometimes a good day job can really interfere with your avocation.”

Almost A Relic

I was reading “The Best Of Nash Buckingham”, by George Bird Evans and came across Nash and his friends using 10 gauge, W & C Scott And Sons, shotguns on ducks and geese in Mississippi and Arkansas.  Around the turn of the 20th century, when he was a boy, if the owner of one of these prized guns wasn’t using it, Nash laid claim to it.  The adult members of their exclusive shooting club, Beaver Dam Duck Club, preferred the large charges, 4 drams of powder and 1-¼ ounces of number 4 shot, that these big bore, 10’s propelled at their quarry.
Now for the rest of the story!
When I was a mere lad in high school, I traded a throwing knife to one of my friends for an old shotgun, a Damascus barrel, 10, gauge with a gold shield inlaid into the comb of the stock.  The gun was in good condition except that it had a severely broken stock right where the action joined. My friend said that he thought someone had been hit with it.  Into the closet at my Mom’ and Dad’s it went for 20 years until I moved to Arizona.

Having a real good job and some extra money, before I left I took the stock to a local gun shop that specialized in repairing antique fire arms. And, for safekeeping, I took the shotgun, sans stock, to my brother-in-law, Jim.   With the owner mentioning what a pretty piece of wood it was, I left it with him and told him that I would call in about a month.
That month turned into 5 and when I went back to Houston, I stopped by the shop and was greeted by a vacant building.  One call to another gun shop and I found out that the proprietor had died and creditors claimed the inventory.

For the next 35 years the old, shotgun slipped my mind, until Jim died and his wife asked me if I knew anything about the old shotgun without a stock?  The memories of the original trade, leaving the gun, taking the stock to be fixed and the shop being vacated, flooded through my mind.  “Yes, I certainly remember my old gun!”

Brad, who is an excellent gunsmith, picked up the gun for me and said he could get another stock for it and fix the trigger sear.  Over the years the trigger sear had been broken, probably from the original wallop.  Brad, really doing a great job, added a new stock and he also machined a new sear and then the old gun went up on my ranch house, wall.
We knew the gun was a 10 gauge, W.& C. Scott And Sons, shotgun and the mention of one like it in the book, spurred me to get it down and take a closer look.
Sure enough, the underside of the barrel shows that the gun is a 10 gauge and can safely handle 4 drams of powder and throw out 1-1/4 ounces of shot, just like Nash mentioned.

The serial number is 6492 and the gun, a very low serial number one, since the numbers ran into the 60,000’s, was a Premier Model, probably built around 1890 and it has over 50 percent of the “brown” still on it.  Back then guns weren’t blued.

Except for the barrels and stock, the gun is covered with beautiful engraving.  The receiver frame, trigger guard, hammers, sight ramp and even the release mechanism on the fore end are covered with the etchings.  This along with the “flowerly” shapes of the wrapped steel, better known as, Damascus, barrels give the old shotgun loads of appeal.

The W & C Scott And Sons, 10 gauge, graces the wall in my ranch house eagerly awaiting a call to service that will never come, the twist steel barrels are just too risky to chance, but it is a great conversation piece – Almost A Relic!

Practice Makes Perfect

Pistol shooting practice time this past Saturday afternoon for Wesley Culbertson, my Grandson, furnished us with a very unusual hit on a clay pigeon target. The kids like to shoot them because they shatter so easy! Not this one!

Like any good Texan, Wesley’s first shot drilled it dead center, but the clay bird remained intact. His second shot clipped the top off and his third one demolished it!

Wesley has been practicing pistol shooting and pistol safety with his Dad, Paul, and the 9 year old has certainly made progress. Pistols can be tricky to shoot and hit a target with any regularity. Some secrets that Wesley has already picked up – keep your finger off of the trigger until you’re ready to shoot, have a good grip, get a good sight picture, then squeeze, don’t jerk. This holds for a .22 up to a .45 auto.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Here Wesley and his Mom, Suzanne are taking shots and hitting the clay birds.

Both of them are good shots and are safe shooters, but they should straighten up their posture a little.Three generations practicing our shooting sports, not bad!



Pistol Practice

One of the best things about owning a chunk of land is to be able to do what you want to on it (within the law). Last month, Brad and I built a pistol range right next to our 100/200, yard rifle range and we spent part of Memorial Day afternoon practicing our pistol shooting.
Here, Brad just finished shooting at his last target.

Out of the thick stuff on my ranch, we cleared about a 50’X50’ space that backed up to an old terrace, a relic of the cotton farming days and we use the terrace as a back stop for our bullets. We went to a friend that has a welding shop and had him cut us out some steel targets. Here are 3 targets backed by the terrace.


A closer look at the targets shows that they have a good base, and the impact of the bullet and gravity, bowl over the target and eliminate any danger of a ricochet. You can clearly see where Brad whacked this one with his .45!


When I shoot the targets with my 9mm, sometimes, not falling over, they just make a soft, bong. Brad’s .45 sends them rolling!

Brad shoots in some local, pistol/rifle/shotgun, shoots and uses our new range for practice, but me, I just like to shoot things!


Sighting In The .17 HMR

Memorial Day afternoon, on my rifle range, Brad and I sighted in my new, Marlin, .17 HMR rifle. My first 3 shots, at 25 yards, produced this group.

Brad is holding a nickel below the group.

Along with being extremely accurate, the rifle functioned perfectly with no miss fed cartridges and a smooth bolt action!


Brad, pictured, thought the trigger pull was a little firm and my only concern, was loading the small cartridges into the clip. There is no hurrying this step!


Producing these results, we both hammered away at the target from 100 yards, firing 16 rounds. The last 3 shots were dead center in the 2” ring.

To help us sight in the rifle and both being, “good ‘ole boys” we taped thin strips of duct tape across the center of the target. One round hit squarely in the center of the perpendicular strip.

This week, I’ll move back to 200 yards!

A New Rifle

This past Tuesday, I went with Brad to San Antonio to visit his oncologist. His trip was successful and we finished up with the doc before 11:00 AM. Since we are both “gun nuts”, we decided to visit the new Bass Pro Shops, west of the city.

Asking the salesman to show us a Marlin, 917V, .17, HMR, cal rifle, we both admired it, and I decided why not just go ahead and buy one, which I did! Adding a 3X9 scope, sling and 2 boxes of Hornady,20 grain, bullets, I walked out of the store a new, proud owner of this neat, little rifle.

Brad is putting on the scope and sling and we will sight it in this weekend and I will have suitable pictures of the event.

Layla, congratulating me on my purchase, said, in jest I hope, “What you really needed was another gun!”

The Pigeon Shoot

Brad had been invited to participate in a live pigeon shoot and mid March 2006 found us driving to east Texas for the event. Brad was still recovering from extensive surgery, radiation and chemotherapy that had removed and treated a stage 4, tumor on his right tonsil. He believed that he was well enough to participate and was looking forward to it! He had been on the Army rifle team, and, for two years had been the Arizona junior trap champion and remains an expert shot with both a rifle and shotgun. Brad had asked me to accompany him, and said, “Why don’t you bring your shotgun along.” I needed no encouragement and accepted the offer. I did not expect to get to shoot, but you never know.

The pigeon shoot, a benefit for Jubalee Junction, a non profit organization that provides deer, duck and wild hog hunting for severely injured people who have the desire to be in the field and take part in hunting activities. The founder of this group, David Gates, is a banker in a small East Texas town and a wonderful guy! He is a severely injured victim of an industrial accident but spending time around him you could never tell.

We had dinner at David’s house that night and met there the next morning to begin a thirty minute drive to the shoot that was being held on private land, deep in the Trinity River “bottom”. Pigeon shoots aren’t against the law, but secluded, private locations are necessary to keep “The Friends Of Wildlife” and other “Tree Huggers” out!

Pigeon shoots are conducted on a one hundred yard, half-circle, field with distance markers spaced every twenty yards around the circumference. To be counted as a kill the bird must fall within this half-circle. The shooter stands in a roped off, chalk lined rectangle twenty yards wide and ten yards deep that is placed in the middle of the half circles base and can shoot from anywhere in this rectangle. In front of the shooter the thrower of the pigeon, the “Colombaire” also has a rectangle the size of the shooters for him to maneuver in. Once he is in position and ready to throw, he says “Listo”, which means he can’t move until throwing the bird. The shooter says, “Pull” and away goes the bird.

To the shooters front, the posts and ropes, ten feet off of the ground, are for the safety of the Colombaire, and when he throws the pigeon, it must clear the ropes to be a legal bird. Since he is throwing the pigeon from in front of the shooter, this gives the Colombaire a margin of safety. However, when the pigeon clears the ropes and then dives back down toward the ground, the Colombaire must hit the ground quickly to avoid being shot. He must be quick and smart!

Brad gets three practice shots and moves into the shooters area shouldering his shotgun. “Listo,” says the thrower and Brad counters, “Pull,” and the bird rockets over the rope climbing for all it is worth. Pow! The bird folds and Pow, Brad discharges the second shot, which is a safety rule. A shooter gets two shots to hit the bird and if successful on the first, must discharge the second into the air.

Brad turns around and says to David, “The gun’s recoil puts too much pressure against the implant in my jaw and I don’t think that I can continue. Is it OK for my Dad to shoot in my place?” David says, “Fine,” and I quickly prepared. I felt somewhat funny with my Browning Superposed “knock off”, a twelve gauge Lanber, a good looking gun made in Spain, but a lot less expensive than a Browning. My opponents all seem to have Brownings, Perrottzis, Berettas and Krieghoffs, all costing many times more than mine. But, as they say, “The proof will be in the pudding.”

Our Colombaire is a man about fifty years old, left handed, with all the moves of a baseball pitcher, which he was professionally in his youth. “Listo,” he announced right in front of me and I nervously answered, “Pull” and he overhands a bird right in front of me, it darted low, he hit the ground, and too much movement in my direst front, and Pow, Pow, two clean misses. An inauspicious start!

The second, practice bird cleared the rope and climbed fast to my right and Pow, down he went. The Colombaire said, “Second barrel.” I look at him. “Second barrel,” a little louder and I remembered to discharge the second shot into the air. Being “tight”, if you hit a bird on the first shot, you don’t waste the second one. I missed both shots on my last practice bird and thought to myself, this is harder than sporting clays or trap shooting and much worse than shooting Mourning Doves on a real windy day. I’ll have to crank up my concentration just to compete with the other shooters.

The practice rounds were completed and there were twenty-five shooters and Brad was shooting twentieth, so I got to watch some very good shooting and picked up some useful pointers. Don’t be glued to the middle of the shooting area. Change your position once the Colombaire says “Listo” and he can’t change his. Your initial aim point is the center of the middle rope. Block out the Colombaire’s movements and just watch the bird. Keep both eyes open and concentrate on the pigeon. And a truism of all wing shooting, swing through your shot and don’t stop your swing until the bird is hit and always be ready for a second shot!

My turn came up as the lady in front of me finished with the lead having knocked down seven out of ten birds thrown. I’m nervous, took a half breath, walked to my position and looked the Colombaire in the eye. His lips moved, but with ear protectors on and being hard of hearing from too much shooting without them, I heard nothing. I told him to speak louder, he smiled and said “Listo.” “Pull,” I answered and the bird sailed over the rope and dove to the ground and Pow, Pow, I missed both shots.

After the miss my “nerves” were gone and I hit eight straight birds including a long, long shot of over seventy-five yards, and the bird fell just inside of the flags. Concentrating completely, being deaf and having ear protectors on I can only hear the “Listoes”. But Brad told me later that I really had all of the other shooters attention. “Who is that guy with the wide shoulders?” “ I have never seen him shoot before.” “That old guy can really shoot!” “What a long shot!” The crowd murmured.

On my last bird, nine of ten should win the shoot for sure, the Colombaire stood right in front of me, smiled and said, “Listo”, I moved two side shuffles to my left, clearing him, he took two spins forward as if to release the bird like a discuss, and of all things, released it behind his back. The bird is flying between the Colombaire and me, and I’m completely “faked out of my jock,” in the wrong position to shoot a hard right bird and Pow, Pow, two weak misses. The Colombaire then does something I had not seen him do with the other shooters, he came toward me, held out his hand, and smiled saying, “Good Shooting.” Everyone was patting me on the back, shaking my hand and congratulating me, but I was worried that one of the last five shooters would tie or beat me.

The last four shooters had sixes and sevens and, as in all good stories, the last shooter a young man probably in his mid twenties, and sporting an old, beat up, twelve gauge, pump, tied me. He missed his first bird, then shot seven in a row, missed number nine and hit an easy straight away for an eight. We tied and to determine the winner, a shoot off was needed.

Having come to the shoot to support Brad, I found myself in a shoot off for the championship. This wasn’t planned, but I will definitely do my best. The Colombaire is primed to make both of us work hard for the victory. He’s getting the bird ready, pulling tail feathers out and swinging it around, while he paces in the throwing area. We both miss the first two birds, our Colombaire stepping up the level of his throws. Shooting first, I nailed a low bird right past the rope and my opponent hit a high, climber. I got a discuss type, behind the back bird to my right and dusted it on the first shot, but hit it square on the second and my opponent hits on his second shot also.

Still tied, I moved to the shooters position, and the Colombaire was smiling and pulling tail feathers out. I’ve seen everything he has I think, so he spins and released the bird with his right hand a hard left. I hadn’t seen that! Pow, Pow and I missed. My opponent won the shoot with an easy climber. My young opponent was the best shooter that day.

Second place still paid handsomely, but I donated my winnings to Jubalee Junction!

However, second guessing, I think that if I had hit the hard left bird, our Colombaire would have pulled one of his tricks on my opponent. Quien sabe?