From the Heartland

This is my soap box, on these pages I publish my opinions on firearms and any other subject I feel like writing about.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Went to the range Sunday

Several posts ago I mentioned a Rifle that I had inherited from my Uncle. Thankfully he is still amoung the living and I hope he is for many more years to come. It belonged to his father (my Grandfather) for more years than anyone cares to remember, and it was given to him by his Uncle.

A bit of History
The rifle is a Winchester Model 94 with a long half octagon barrel that was manufactured in 1907. The caliber is Thirty-two Winchester Special. For those of you familiar with the Thirty-thirty, it is essentially the same cartridge case except that it is thirty-two caliber instead of Thirty. The .32 W. Spl. was the first smokeless powder cartridge developed.

As a young boy this is the first center-fire rifle I ever fired and successfully hunted with. Even though it always maintained a place on my Grandfathers gunrack, it was a firearm I grew up with and longed to shoot many years before I was deemed mature enough to do so. Today the rifle just doesn't seem as big, long and heavy as it did to a twelve year old boy all those years ago.

From the Firing Line
Arriving at the range feeling more than just a bit sentimental I uncased the rifle and a twenty round box of ammunition. Starting out at 25 yards I guestimated where to set the adjustment on the Lyman tang peep sight. Firing three rounds I was amazed that this firearm could still shoot that well. All three shoots produced one ragged hole that could be covered with a nickel. Being that it was only hitting a tad high and a bit to the left I decided to try it out on a one hundred yard target. Shooting four rounds the group opened up a bit and shot a little more to the left. This was to be expected and I did not make any further sight adjustments. I do not plan on hunting with this firearm this season anyway. If I were I would have taken more ammunition and spent more time sighting it in. Even so it shot a group that measured less two inches. Not bad for a rifle that will soon be celebrating it's one hundredth birthday.

Five Generations
Accompanying me to the range were my oldest son and his father-in-law. They shot the old rifle as well. When my son shot the rifle, five generations of this family have now handled and fired this gun. I have no idea how many meals this rifle has put on the table, but I do know it has been in the family since before the Great Depression. That said I know that it has contributed to the survival and sustanance of my family through some desperately hard times.

It truely is a family hierloom. It is not one that needs to be cleaned and put away, only to be brought out just for conversation, infrequent target shooting or reminicing over. I fully intend to take this rifle to the field and hunt with it again. I also hope that some of my Grandchildren are equally fortunate enough to shoot and hunt with this rifle long after in passes it's century birthmark.

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