Friday, October 9, 2020

Home-field advantage: Shooting ladders

Brad was still on the 300 yard line. He decided to make himself useful and was spotting for Lawton.

I had finished up at the hundred-yard line and was waiting for an opening at the three-hundred. I was standing well back, behind the shooters by the reloading presses Nelson kept on the bench at the back of the shooting area.

Lawton was an interesting case. He worked two part-time jobs that didn’t pay much more than minimum wage. He had a wife and two kids and no benefits.

Lawton loved shooting bit a tight budget and a burning desire to shoot a lot don’t often play together well.

Lawton found a way to make it pay. He hired himself out to farmers with block permits to control deer populations and to shoot woodchucks. A woodchuck will destroy a quarter-acre of soybeans. You can imagine how many beans a deer can browse when the seedlings are four inches tall.

Like everybody else who is a “volume” shooter, Lawton found his preferred components out-of-stock. At least that is what he told Brad.

Lawton was shooting “ladders” as part of his load development with the new components. Having a second person on the spotting scope sped up his shooting considerably. Lawton would shoot. Brad looked through the spotting scope and made a mark on the target where the new bullet-hole appeared. Then Brad wrote which “lot number” the round came out of.

Lawton was in a mood to chatter. Shooting is generally a solitary sport, so Lawton was making the most of a sympathetic set of ears.

“I dreaded having to switch from Sierra to Berger” he said “but it wasn’t so bad once I figured out the ‘jump’ they liked.”

Brad nodded like he knew what Lawton was talking about.

He shot a quick glance my way. He knew I was there.

I was wearing my “I’m retired and enjoying the conversation” face.

Brad turned his attention back to Lawton.

“But these spherical powders really seem to like to be pushed hard” Lawton said. The Standard Deviations tightened right up when I got to max-loads.”

“What kinds of velocities are you getting?” Brad asked.

“I am getting between 2900 fps and 3100 fps, depending on the powder” Lawton said.

For those who aren’t familiar with a 109 grain bullet out of a .243 Winchester, that is scooting right along.

I had the feeling that Brad ran in some pretty fast company himself. I was tickled that he didn’t look down his nose at Lawton. Maybe it was Lawton’s simple-as-Dial-soap approach. Maybe it was his rig. Most likely it was because Lawton settle down and blow the pecker off a mosquito at 300 yards with a very minimum amount of prancing around. He just got the sight-picture and touched off Ol’ Betsie.

After our gig at the shooting range, Brad brought up the issue of money.

He pointed out that there was no way we could match the Marxists man-for-man. The only way to effectively counter them was to use force-multipliers. Then he outlined some of the things he had in mind.

The problem was that they all cost money. Some of the things I could get at a discount. In many cases a very deep discount. And it still took money.

I made the call to Lizzy that I had been dreading. It is not like I hadn’t seen this coming.

She picked up on the second ring. “Hello Sweetie” she said “What is up?”

I cut to the chase. “I want to take some money out of our 401-k”

We had a rule where either one of us could pull $250 without consulting with the other. We both had checks that drew on a revolving credit line that replenished by automatically pulling the required amount from our 401-k. More magic from Vince the accountant.

“How much?” she asked.

“A quarter of it” I said.

I heard her indrawn breath as she weighed the magnitude of what I was asking.

“A quarter of it?” she asked.

“Yup. A quarter of it” I confirmed.

Essentially, I was asking to withdraw a decade’s worth of peanut butter sandwiches, driving beater cars, deferred vacations and entertainment. It took us forty years to fill the account, and now I wanted to yank a quarter of that out.

“Why so much?” My darling Lizzy asked.

“Two, maybe three reasons. If the Marxists win they already said they were going to nationalize all pension and retirement plans. That is, they will take all of it.”

“Short of that, the value of the dollar is tanking and we won’t have that much buying power anyway” I said.

I knew that made an impression on Lizzy. Lately, she had been watching the roller-coaster swings in the 401-k balance and noticed that our preferred grocery items were either not on the shelf or much more expensive. Where it wasn’t that, it was me bitching about an 8’ four-by-four costing $40.

“What is the third reason?” Lizzy asked.

“I don’t think I will use all of it. I want enough so I don’t have to spend time counting pennies” I said.

Then, Lizzy being Lizzy said “Give me a few minutes to think about it and to pray for wisdom”

“Sure. No problem” I said as we sat in my truck in the parking lot of the shooting range.

Brad looked at me. “Will this take long?”

“Nope. Lizzy has a red-phone that connects directly to the Big Guy upstairs” I said.

Four minutes later, my phone’s ringtone let me know Lizzy was calling back.

Her message was short and sweet. “Do it and stay safe.”

Brad and I walked back into the shooting range and we bought Nelson’s supply of Tannerite. It amounted to twenty pounds.

I asked Nelson “Can you get more?”

“I can but it is spendy, especially if you want it in a hurry.” Nelson said.

“If cost is not an object, how much can you get and how quickly?” I asked.

“Hmmm. Don’t know until I go looking but I think I could have fifty pounds by tomorrow and a hundred the day after.” Nelson said.

“Do it” I said.

Then I asked “Do you want a credit card or would you rather have Lizzy swing by tomorrow and pay by check?”

“I’ll take a check” Nelson said. He didn’t want to pay the merchant fee and he knew we kept our word. 



  1. Whew, that put the pedal to the metal.
    The author must have 100% confidence in Nelson, since this effectively brings Nelson onto the team, even though he has (semi-)plausible deniability in case things go very wrong.

  2. Paid by check is much more secure than going through credit cards, as some CC companies are going all SJW about purchases for 2A associated items.

    As to tannerite, I've been wondering when BATFE will come down on it.

    Purchasing black powder in bulk, if they can find it, would also be a viable thing. Lots of nasty things that can be done with black powder.

  3. Interesting that Lawton does pest control. In the mid 60s my buddy and I did that for farmers, land owners and a golf course and on our own farms . Deer in the crops, woodchucks mostly in hay fields, as well as racoons and muskrats and a murder of crows occasionally. But now that I have reached the age of Old Man Empathy I sometimes feel a little bad about it even though it needed to be done. Now something has to really piss me off or pose a direct threat before I'll shoot it. --ken

  4. Another gem gets pulled from erj- Old Man Empathy. The last one was "stay shot". Thur I killed a big noble hybrid stripped bass. Since they are difficult to catch most are not released. Earlier in the week, it made me feel good to watch the fish swim away after I did battle. I reasoned it would suck dragging around a 6 or 7lb fish for very long on the side of the kayak. The truth is old man empathy.


Readers who are willing to comment make this a better blog. Civil dialog is a valuable thing.