We drove out to the Bullet Stop and found it was closed. The new store hours are 6:00 pm until 9:00 pm. Somewhat discouraged we were about to leave when the owner showed up with both dogs and let us in. We were her only customers, she explained, and she'd been in the house to keep warm.
Indeed. For those of you who don't know, the Bullet Stop is a house trailer parked next to a barn. The range is an enclosed structure built inside the barn, so it has double insulation and never sees the light of day. Given the temperature outside was about thirty degrees Fahrenheit, the temperature inside was about 20. You could see your breath at the range, something that Big Mike thought hilariously funny. I failed to see his humor and didn't comment. I forced myself to ignore the cold and somehow coaxed my numb fingers into stuffing bullets into the clip for my gat. Well, at least we had the place to ourselves, everyone else being wise enough to stay home and watch TV or something.
|Buckmark and Target|
Big Mike started out with his Browning Buckmark and did well with it, which is not unusual. I've shot the Buckmark before, and I think it has a slightly better trigger pull than my Ruger. The Ruger tends to balance a little better for me, and I've always thought about getting some work done on the trigger. But then, if it works, why fix it?
|Ruger Mark II|
I 'warmed up' with my Ruger .22 and didn't do badly. One thing about the range at the Bullet Stop is that it isn't just cold; it's cold and dark. My eyesight is not what it once was, so all things being equal I'm not too unhappy with these results at 25 feet.
|Ruger Mark II|
To compensate for the lack of light I put a nice, big international orange sticky in the middle of my target to see how much I would improve. Not so much, as it turned out.
I ran a few clips of .45 through my Springfield 1911 Mil. Spec. Again, I didn't do badly. This target was typical of my performance today and was perforated at 30 feet or so, with the shots fired at a little less than one second each. That's about as fast as I can shoot and actually hit anything.
When we first started shooting Big Mike casually mentioned that he had some left over .357 ammo that he was going to run through his Smith and Wesson. I think he may have said this after I put my ear protection on. I wear both ear plugs and muffs as I would like to preserve what little hearing I have left, and shooting indoors without ear protection is a good way to damage your ears.
While I was busy trying to keep all my shots inside the international orange sticky, Big Mike sneaked over to the equipment table just as quiet as a little mousy and switched guns, trading his Browning Buckmark for his S&W 686. Then, just as I was trying to control my labored breathing and squeeze off another shot, the entire world exploded.
To give myself credit, I did not jerk the trigger three or four times in a kind of knee jerk reaction to the shock wave, nor did my heart stop. When I regained my composure, I put my pistol down and went next door to see just what the hell Mike was shooting. "Three fifty seven." Mike replied to my query. "Kinda has some spunk to it, doesn't it?"
|S&W 686 with Empties|
I shot the .357 once, and once was enough. Whatever Remington was putting in those bullets was hot, and the recoil was enough to drive me back to my own lane and my .45. Big Mike was undeterred, but even with his chow hooks he would break off frequently to allow his wrists to recover. I was impressed that Mike kept everything on target. What usually happens is that a shooter will draw a careful bead on the target and torch off a round with some snort to it, and the first shot will be right in the ten right. Subsequent shots are all over the place, as the shooter has developed a permanent flinch and jerks each time the gun goes off. Not so with Big Mike, who destroyed the center of his target in fine style.
After that the real fun started. A few years ago Big Mike stumbled across a Beretta Cx 4 Storm in .45 and decided to buy it. The seller told Mike he couldn't keep the carbine in stock, and I can see why. The carbine is dead easy to operate, the controls are placed very nicely and it's set up so it can be easily changed for left handed shooters. The sights are ghost ring (rear) and post which work a whole lot better than I ever imagined.
|Beretta Cx4 in .45|
Here are my efforts with the carbine at 50 feet. This is from a standing position, about one shot per second. I'm impressed with the gun; if I can produce results like this, a serious shooter should do much better.
|Blitzen Ale at Maumee Bay|
We finished up at Maumee Bay. I had the Blitzen ale, which I recommend to anyone who enjoys an ale that is not too bitter or strong tasting. The Blitzen has a nice mellow, somewhat fruity flavor that goes very well with lunch.
The three empties you see fell out of my coat when I took it off. I rescued them from the floor and Mike and I wondered if the owners would call the SWAT team. Anthony the bartender remained unruffled, but our reaction is a sad commentary about the world we live in. When I lived in South Dakota the sporting goods store was in the basement of the DakotaMart supermarket. I bought a shotgun while I was there and carried my new shotgun, uncased, up the stairs and through a busy supermarket, out the door and across the parking lot to my car where I stowed it carefully in the trunk. Not one person so much as raised an eyebrow.