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Old Dog Learns New Trick
Growing up watching westerns, as well as Vic Morrow’s TV show “Combat” (which came on after the news on ABC) made me want western firearms including lever action rifles and single action pistols. “Combat” made me want a 1911. My father, a WWII veteran who served in Europe and participated in the battle of the Bulge, had long lost his illusions about pistols and because of that didn’t like them. He thought they were inaccurate and more importantly unsafe. My fist pistol was a Daisy model 179 BB gun. The BB gun was so weak that if conditions were perfect you could actually see the BB traveling towards the target. It was too weak to even take frogs or birds that wanted to take over my father’s machine shed. But it looked like the Colt “Peacemaker” and that was enough for me. The gun now sells for nearly two hundred dollars on EBay because it is now an antique like me, but with more value. I would have saved myself a lot of frustration, as well as money if I would have just stayed with the Daisy “Peacemaker” because the truth is I’m not very good with pistols. The problem goes back to being right handed, but left eye dominant. I made myself a passable wing shot, by shooting and shooting a lot (thanks to raiding ammo in Dad’s sock drawer and later burning up my own ammo.) But pistols and I have never been what you would call a good team. I have learned to live with it, and the only time it becomes an issue is when the son-in-law, Colin, and I shoot and he regularly beats me despite my decades of experience.
But not being good with a pistol didn’t stop me from buying them, and when I got a chance back in the mid 70’s to buy a Colt New Frontier in .22 I jumped at it. If I had a dollar for every round I put through that pistol I could have retired at 50 instead of 65. I have shot that pistol better than any handgun before or after. It has adjustable sights and minimum recoil. With it I have taken frogs and all manner of small game, not to mention countless pop cans. But once again regardless of all that experience, I’m sure that anyone who is remotely familiar with shooting a handgun could pick the Colt up and outshoot me. But yet again being less than average with a handgun didn’t stop me from purchasing them. True to my love of westerns I would later acquire a Ruger Vaquero in .45 Long Colt with a birds head frame. I even used it to qualify for my Conceal Carry permit in Missouri. The distance is 7 yards and while that seems very close the Vaquero has fixed sights. Still, it shot well enough for me to qualify. Afterwards, several others used the pistol, as you had to shoot a revolver and a semi-automatic pistol. Later I would acquire three semi auto pistols and unfortunately I am not more accurate with them than any other handgun I own.
I told a good friend that I really enjoy being retired, but what I didn’t like about it was that you have to be old to do it. Like an old mule that you put out to pasture, you’re pretty much shot to fully enjoy your leisure time. At the time when you would love to have your best vision and reflexes, you realize that your eyes were worn out staring at some stupid computer screen and your legs were worn out walking on some concrete floor of a factory while wearing steel toed shoes. Whether it was just getting tired of being a poor shot with a pistol or watching my son-in-law regularly outshoot me I had to do something. Following an eye exam and getting new glasses, I went out and burned some ammo, but my shooting improved only slightly. So the next thing to address was my pistols. I am a strange person, which surprises no one, but I have this image of what a handgun should look like and laser sights have never appealed to me because of how they changed the appearance of the gun. I know it sounds dumb, but I also have a nephew who once said he would never have a white horse because they showed dirt so bad. I had never thought about it, but once I did I realized what Tonto did during his downtime – he was vacuuming Silver. Anyway, I gave in and began looking for a laser sight for my Ruger LC9. I like the gun because of its power yet still relatively small frame making it fairly easy to conceal, but the shorter sight radius also takes away how accurately I shoot it. My search ended when I came across the ArmaLaser model TR9 designed for my Ruger. The laser was fairly inexpensive and was supposed to be so easy to install even a klutz like me could put it on my pistol. I still had my doubts, but when the sight arrived, after I read the instructions (something new for me) I shortly had the laser sight installed. What I liked about the laser was that it had a grip touch activation, meaning that I didn’t have to flip a switch and could leave the sight turned on and my gripping the pistol sent the laser out and would stay on as long as I was holding the pistol. By sliding my first finger or relaxing my first finger the laser was shut off. A few days later I was adjusting the laser just as you would a scope and it was in fact easy enough I could install it, as well as adjust the laser. There is a master power switch to allow you to shut everything down if you want to practice shooting with your iron sights or if you are planning for long term storage.
On a campout the following weekend I brought the LC9 and the son-in-law and I burned some ammo. Although he still outshot me (I despise youth) I performed pretty well. The laser was a little hard to see in bright sunlight, but we were shooting early in the morning and in the shade. In order to get a photo for this article, I returned to the farm this past week and took a Birchwood Shoot and C target. I affixed the target on an old Pepsi carton and then set the target up at the 7 yards range that one shoots for Conceal carry qualification. I freely admit that I didn’t shoot off hand in a standing position, but instead sat at our old picnic table with my hand resting on a rolled up coat, so I was very steady. I came away feeling very good about the laser sight as I put a very good group on paper with my seven shots. Certainly someone who is good with a pistol could still outshoot me, but for casual plinking and target practice I felt a lot better about myself. Now the only question will be battery life and being conservative with shooting up my ammo because as you all well know ammo is hard to come by!