Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Let's Try This Again...

After Monday’s disaster in the binary code of the blogosphere and a rough day yesterday, it’s time for me to revert back to using Microsoft Word to draft my posts and then upload to Blogger. Try and lose my lengthy, carefully drafted posts now you evil, programmable toasters on crack.

Philistines…toasters have no appreciation of fine writing whatsoever.

So, anyway, I’m going to do my best to recreate my range report of Sunday’s events. It probably won’t have quite the same feel as the one I wrote on Monday since the euphoria of gun powder therapy has been beaten into submission by the bitter bucket of cold water that sometime passes for normal life in the Erickson household.

So, without further adieu…

Sunday morning arrived way too early. An hour early, in fact, thanks to the useless “bright idea” foisted on us by Congress that is daylight savings time. Given that time magically skipped forward 1 hour by legislative fiat at 2:00 AM Sunday and the fact that I didn’t sleep well Saturday night/Sunday morning as previously reported, my now 40 year old body had not yet adjusted to the fact that it had been beaten, robbed and left for dead on the sands of time.

After taking care of the necessary morning constitutional tasks as well as the proper care and feeding of The Queen, it was time to depart for other locations.

The van needed gas and so did I. First stop was the donut shop. For those who know me well, this should come as no surprise. For those who don’t know me well, I have a love affair with anything sweet that’s baked in the oven or fried in grease. Unfortunately, donuts have become a rare treat for me. I know they are not my body’s friends, but that has nothing to do with the rarity of their appearance in my diet. Since I don’t get out much anymore in the early morning hours when good donut shops are open, I don’t have much opportunity to indulge my cravings.

Oh well.

A dozen donut holes, a glazed old fashioned, a cinnamon roll, a chocolate éclair later (don’t give me any grief…I have to take full advantage of every donut opportunity) and a brief interlude at the gas station, it was off to Will Rogers Center in Fort Worth to meet up with my best friend (aside from The Queen) Ken to indulge our desires to drool over large quantities of firearms in one location.

I arrived at Will Rogers at about 9:45 for a 10:00 door opening. I was surprised to find about 40 or 50 early birds in line ahead of me. I suppose I shouldn’t be all that surprised since we are in a “red state” and we love our guns and our Bibles.

I had brought the Smith & Wesson Model 29 (.44 mag, square butt, 4” barrel, pinned and recessed with presentation case for those interested in the details) I had liberated from granddad (mom’s dad) when he went into assisted living as potential trade fodder. I was hoping to work a trade for one or two of the guns on my midlife crisis list.

Nothing says “I want to be pestered” at a gun show like bringing a box or a gun case with you. Even if you’re not planning on selling and just brought something to get new grips or a new scope, you will be constantly asked: “Whatcha got in the box?” Standing in line waiting to get in the door, two people asked me. Once we got inside, there is always one guy who pays extra for the table right next to the door to try and buy guns off people coming in the door. He said “Hey mister, whatcha got in the box?” And so it went at just about every other table. I’ve been to many a gun show, and I was expecting that.

For any readers who might not have had the pleasure of attending a gun show in a large, southern or western city such as Dallas or Fort Worth, think of it as a gigantic buffet of weapons in all shapes and sizes. This particular show was about half the size of the show I went to last year with mom when we purchased her first anti-pervert pill thrower (long story…short version – naked man on mom’s second story balcony at 6:00 AM). Even with the reduction in the number of vendors, it still took Ken and me about an hour and a half to leisurely walk through the show and lovingly fondle items of interest.

After strolling through the show, it was apparent that no trade deals were to be had that I was interested in. It was also apparent that there was no one interested in paying cash for the Smith at a price I was willing to sell. Someone tried to offer me $150. The best offer I got was $400. The gun is not in pristine, collectible condition, but it’s not a rusted piece of trash either. It’s a shooter that’s had its share of love and neglect. Based on my research, it should be bringing north of $600 in this market. If it and the presentation box were in pristine condition (called NIB – new in box), it would sell for at least twice that amount.

As a result, I decided to hang on to it and see if I could find some grips that would make it more comfortable to shoot. The Model 29 shoots .44 special and .44 magnum ammo. .44 special is a fairly strong round compared to a .38 or 9mm. .44 magnum is a whole other ball game. The stock grips on the Model 29 square butt just about feel like you’re holding a 2 x 4. Combine that with shooting my granddad’s “good, hot loads”, and it feels like you’ve been playing catch with Nolan Ryan for nine innings. In addition, I’ve never been very fond of the aesthetics of the square butt grips. Fortunately, I found a distributor selling Hogue contoured wood grips made from coco bolo wood. They’re pretty. I’ll try to remember to upload some photos after I clean things up from Sunday’s outing.

After leaving the gun show, Ken and I went in search of food. Our first choice, a barbeque joint nearby, was closed on Sunday. So, we made our way to Fuzzy’s Tacos near TCU for some quick Tex Mex. A couple of tacos each and some chips and queso took care of the inner men, and we were off to mom’s to meet up with more family and friends for some serious gun powder therapy.

Ken and I arrived at Mom’s just after 1:00 which was close enough to our intended arrival time to be considered on time. My sister and her two girls were already there. My cousin was supposed to be there with his wife and his two friends so we could get started and have plenty of time to shoot and still leave time afterwards for burgers and beer.

A quick aside here. Ericksons are known the world over for being late. If an event is supposed to start at a certain time, you can bet money that an Erickson will show up an hour or more late. We’ve taken “fashionably late” to a whole new level. It’s my genetic heritage which I have been trying to overcome since I was old enough to more or less control my own destiny.

My cousin is still working on overcoming his genetic predispositions.

In fairness, it wasn’t entirely his fault. I got a text while on my way to mom’s from cousin B. that they were running about 30 minutes behind schedule. No problem. A little while later, I got a phone from him advising that they had to turn around and take his wife back to the car as she started getting an upset stomach. Cousin B. and his friends finally made it to mom’s at about 2:30. By the time we got set up, it was just after 3:00 when we started shooting.

Between the five adults who brought toys…I mean firearms…to play with, I think we had about 14 guns and boxes and boxes of ammunition. I brought the above mentioned Smith along with my Marlin 60 .22LR rifle, mom’s Ruger 10/22 .22LR rifle (aka “The Pervert Popper”) and my Remington 870 12 gauge shotgun. Ken brought his Glock 19 9mm, a Ruger MkII .22LR pistol as well as an NAA .22 pocket pistol. Cousin B. brought a NIB, never been kissed, Springfield XD9 9mm, a Taurus Millennium 9mm and a Moisin-Nagant M44 bolt action carbine rifle in 7.62 x 54R. His buddy Alex brought a modified SKS semi-automatic rifle in 7.62 x 51, a Galil semi–automatic rifle in .223, another Moisin-Nagant M44, a Walther .22LR pistol and another Springfield XD9. There may have been a couple of other guns tucked away in range bags that I didn’t see, but these were the ones that definitely came out to play.

I won’t bore you with a shot by shot description of events, but there were some notable items worth mentioning here.

I was merrily plinking away with the Marlin 60 at a target about 25 yards away when I noticed that there was a large growth of cactus just to the left of the target stand. I had just seen the movie Silverado a few days before and remembered the scene where Scott Glenn was practicing his marksmanship by shooting the needles of a cactus. Hmmmm….adjust aim left, and holes magically appear in the cactus. From behind me I hear, “Hey. That looks like fun. I wanna do that.” Needless to say, the cactus had a very bad day after that.

The Offending Cactus Having a Bad Day

Next up was the Moisin-Nagant Rifle. You can read amusing accounts describing this rifle’s attributes here and here. Frank, who is an E4 specialist in the U.S. Army with a Military Intelligence unit, decided to have a go with his brother Alex’s M44. Frank assumes the prone position on the ground behind the rifle and starts staring at it like a monkey sitting at a typewriter. Apparently, he was trying to figure out where the safety was. I think it was Alex who said: “The Russians don’t believe in safeties.” Frank took his first shot and scattered leaves and flattened grass for about 10 feet in front of the muzzle. To say that the M44 is loud doesn’t quite do it justice. Sticks of TNT going off are probably quieter than the M44. Then Frank proceeds to start fighting with the bolt handle to chamber another round. After an unsuccessful attempt, Frank asks: “Am I stupid?” After being shown by cousin B. that the M44 bolt handle is only mildly amused by and, in fact, is designed to enjoy being handled roughly, Frank succeeds in getting a few more shots off. Later, when we were grilling the burgers, his brother Alex made the comment that Frank was our tax dollars at work. Somehow, I am not comforted.

You will note in the above cactus photo a few splashes of orange looking oddly like clay pigeons. That is because they are, in fact, clay pigeons. Since, I’ve never had the time or money to invest in a steel plate reactive target rack, I thought we’d try something else. I have a few boxes of the clay pigeons stashed away not doing much of anything. So, we set up some clays as poor men’s reactive targets. It’s a challenge to break a clay with a .22LR bullet. It’s an even more impressive challenge to HIT a clay with a Moisin-Nagant using iron sights at 70 yards; but, when you do, it’s very satisfying to see the cloud of vaporized clay dust where the clay used to be.

After a fun filled two and half hours of shooting, it was back to the house to grill burgers and drink beer. My niece Kaitlyn is not a fan of red meat. She says it’s a taste and texture thing. Whatever. My buddy Ken though is a consummate joker. He said she should get a t-shirt that says: “I’m not a vegetarian because I love animals. I’m a vegetarian because I hate vegetables.” I’d buy that shirt.

On that note, I must conclude this exercise in avoiding work. Enjoy some more photos from Sunday. Happy shooting.

**Update - As correctly pointed out Ken, my nieces took great pleasure in taking part in our reindeer games. They became very comfortable with shooting in their second outing with guns under the careful tutelage of Ken who is a very patient instructor. In fact, they both have the makings of excellent marksmen just like their great grandmother Ann who was known to outshoot many a man in her day.

New-ish Shooters - My Nieces (Kaitlyn, left and Kyria)

Kyria Paying the Price for Shooting Other People's Guns - Reloading Magazines

Cousin B. Shooting His New XD9 - Notice the Smoking Shell Casing Next to the Slide

Part of the Arsenal

The Rest of the Army (left to right - Cousin B., Frank, Alex and Ken)


  1. No mention of your nieces being great marksmen, and joining in the blowing up of things?

  2. Ken, I have rectified that omission.


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