Thursday, February 14, 2008

Rule Number One: Always Be Armed

So of course, I broke it at the last shooting session in the desert.

No, I didn't get all the way out to the shooting spot and then find out I left my guns at home - I haven't done that yet! - I did something far, far worse. I went shooting without a sidearm.

Sure, nothing happened, as the fact that you're reading this can attest. Nope, my error was thinking nothing could happen when out in the middle of nowhere. After all, the shooting fraternity contains only good, decent, law abiding people. Except for the criminals who use guns.

My purpose for that day was to attempt to sight in the good old Aught-three Springfield. I recently purchased a spotting scope and a small folding table and stool just for that purpose. A report on my feeble attempts will be posted above.

As we first made our way to the places we had shot before we noticed that all the good spots had been taken. We didn't bother going up to see what the other people were doing, as most of them were a bit off the road. As we were passing the last spot, we saw that five guys in a pickup were loitering around. Maybe they were just out there drinking. We saw no guns or targets in the area. Didn't feel like checking them out too closely as they seemed to have an unsavory appearance. We just continued on looking for a place to shoot further down. A short distance after passing them, we ran into a no firearms discharge sign. We continued on to see if the prohibition lasted for only a short distance or not. We eventually ran into a roadblock that ended our exploration, as seen below. After spending some time exploring the area off limits to shooting, we decided to return to the area to check and see if anyone had vacated one of the prime locations.

Sadly, they had not, although I do not recall hearing much shooting. There was some sporadic gunfire, but not much. So we just picked the first open area and set up the table and targets. All went well and as we were considering calling it a day, the pickup with the five strangers passed our spot, heading in the direction of the no shooting area. They drove slowly past and continued on. I wasn't in a position to make eye contact with them but as they exited the area, it finally dawned on me that we were exposed. Naked in fact. Why? Because I had only brought the Springfield and the Henry out to shoot. The Henry never made it out of its box and was buried under stuff in the back of the Jeep. The Springer was sitting out on the table, bolt open, unloaded, with no ammo within reach, and I was a good ten feet away from it.

Sitting ducks.

I have no way of knowing what intentions those guys had. Perhaps nothing but drinking and spending time away from nagging wives or spirit dulling jobs. Maybe they were the ones shooting. They could have looked at what I had and determined it wasn't something they were interested in. That old Springer wasn't a shiny new plastigun that shoots sideways, just an old hunk of wood and metal. Nothing any criminal would want, so maybe they eyed it and decided it wasn't worth an effort to take. Maybe they had no interest in any illegal activity. The fact is, no matter what they were or weren't planning to do, we were completely at the mercy of anyone who did have evil intent. Pretty sobering thought.

After this experience, all shooters in my party will be carrying a sidearm while out in the desert. The desert is a big place and it's quite easy for someone to disappear out there after a confrontation with those who aren't willing to obey the law. This time nothing happened, but who knows about the next time....