Update from Y-man January – February 2013 (My FIRST self-posted guest post! Yay!). My previous post about my October visit to the USA is here.
Well, hello all… Y-man here again. And when I say “here” I mean “HERE” in the USA on another visit. I came over for work, training, and a few days of vacation, and spent my time in the Atlanta – Georgia area.
It was a hectic trip, with long, tiring flight but all worth it, with all the things I bought, and my exciting visit to the Stoddard”s Guns and Range. Many thanks to the wonderful guys there, who took time out of their extremely busy work schedules to welcome me, take me through the safety courses, and organised some very constructive range time (Including giving me access to their personal firearms, and providing a lot of the ammo I used up…) It was GOOD!
I have a little on what I learnt and got at Stoddard’s Range and Guns below.
Just before I left on this trip, I finally got the chance to do some testing on my shotgun and other developments. I had firmed up on a new design of slug (More like the Federal Tru-Ball type, but with local materials and modifications.) and finally got the chance to test.
Also: I had gotten a Knoxx Blackhawk! Specops folding stock for my shotgun last year, and have been chomping at the bit to go test it under real firing conditions.
In mid-January, I drove for 300 miles from the Niger Delta to my home area up-north (The North Central area.) where hunting, shooting and (licensed) shotguns are a bit more accepted. I hooked up with some of my cousins, and took off for some shooting adventures. You can see the video from the experience below.
What I learnt from this experience:
1. My locally fabricated slugs work quite well. I fired from about 45 yards (stepped – WIDE, LONG steps!) at some computer hard disk covers screwed onto planks of wood. I fired over ‘open sights’ using a HiViz Plain Barrel clip-on sight. I basically had some good hits: even with my less than perfect eyesight through my Remington Shooting Glasses (I did not wear my own glasses.) I was able to hit the hard drive cover bull’s-eyes at least twice, and hit the plank just below that at least four more times. (I even had two holes overlap! Does this mean there was either something wrong with my aiming, or with the sights?)
2. Distance to target: 45 yards is just simply too long to expect much accuracy from homemade slugs. I think it was over-optimistic of me to try at this distance. It is painful when you consider that I once had good hits as far out as 70yards! Consistency has been the issue. I will henceforth do my shooting at a reasonable distance of 25 to 30 yards maximum.
3. The Knoxx stock is a BAD cheek slapper! Each time I would fire, my cheek would feel like I had been hit by a glancing blow from a hammer. I had my cheek throbbing even a week later. After a few shots, I quickly swapped the Knoxx stock for one of my own fabrications. (That one did not do much better in the cheek-slap-free department either, but that’s a different story altogether…) This led to several modifications on the Knoxx stock, and with this, I think I am now onto a good thing.
4. A range visit should be a well thought-out plan, with a whole day invested into it. If one is going to carry out specific tests on specific batches of ammunition, it is good to plan it properly. I ended up forgetting to go with the right cameras, I forgot to keep track of the specific slug batches I was shooting (So as to know and review the results accordingly.) It is also good to set up the right type of targets. If accuracy is the test: use the right distances, use easily recognizable targets (I find that discarded computer hard disk covers are useful here…) and if speed shooting is the test: I have found that nothing beats balloons of different colors strung up in staggered intervals. For this speed test: shooting sequences could be randomized a ‘coach could vary the calls, at whistle blow: shout out – “Blue, green, green, red, blue, red, yellow, yellow, purple!” A good shooter will then remember this order, and shoot accordingly. A fast and accurate shooter will almost be hitting the right balloons as the coach calls out the colors Imagine if all this is caught on tape, with clear coverage of the target balloons for after-action reviews?
5. Sometimes, the very best equipment could disappoint a person. My highest end Nikon D7000 camera made a mess of videoing the event. I ended up with more acceptable video from my Samsung phone, my GoPro HD cam, and an old Olympus camera I thought I had lost long ago. At least my shotgun worked! (Even though my cheek got painful and slightly swollen from the cheek slap – not to worry: I saw a doctor, a regular doctor, not a sangoma! (I only had some bruising to my cheek, no bones broken.)
6. Simple can be best. I used a simple aluminium clamp to hold my Hi Viz sight to my shotgun barrel: after having lost several such sights before from getting flung off the barrel during recoil. I have decided to simplify even more in everything I do. The clamp worked, my sights worked, it all worked!
In all, quite an eye-opener, (And cheek slapper!)
Now, back to my Atlanta visit, and Stoddard’s adventure.
Jonathan of Stoddard’s had hinted in a response to one of my guest posts here that I could check out their Gun store and Range if I were ever to be in the Atlanta area. By coincidence, a training seminar in personal management was set up and I was invited to participate. So on 07FEB, I left for Atlanta. Before then, I had done a LOT of research on Stoddard’s , and had gotten in touch with them in preparation for my trip. Jonathan was very kind in answering all my inquiries, and was very patient in explaining things to me.
I also pre-ordered some items I had only ever dreamt about: the Lyman Sabot Slug Mould, the BPI Roll Crimper, a proper Shotgun sling, a survival knife and a few other odds and ends. I gave the sellers and shippers the hotel address.
On arrival at Hartsfield International Airport on 08FEB, I was surprised at how cold it was, though not as much as the North East. My pre-ordered items had mostly arrived: these and other (non-firearm) items were waiting for me when I arrived: the hotel staff jokingly called me “Mr. Packages”!
I settled in for my training, and did some shopping too. I must confess that I found the area I stayed in rather boring (Douglasville, Atlanta.) and had much difficulty getting food to eat: I just could not find my favourite foods! So I settled for shrimps, and potato salad for EVERY day I was there.
On Monday 11FEB, I finally got to spend the day at Stoddard’s. And man! Was I excited or what! A wide array of rental and sale firearms, rifles, shotguns, handguns, knives, tactical jackets, holsters, all well arranged and presented. The staff were nice and attentive, professional in their duties and very, very warm in welcoming customers. Jonathan recognized me as I walked in and was very warm with his welcome. He also introduced me to his colleagues who had obviously heard about me from him before. The welcome was overwhelming.
When he had a little time free, he showed me round the shop, I met the owners, who are inspirations in their own right: with their almost miraculous bounce-back after a devastating fire some years ago. Then he set me up on a firing lane, and signed out a Chiappa Rhino Revolver in .38/ .357 magnum for me to start with. I chose the .38.
Firing this was sweet! Recoil was negligible, the revolver stayed on target, and the shots went too fast for my liking. At one point, I mistakenly got my finger on my left hand too close to the gap between cylinder and barrel, and got a slight and painful powder burn for my mistake. As I asked the Sales Manager: Tim MClarty later: I am puzzled as why such a sweet shooting, accurate revolver is not more widely adapted, even for law enforcement, and he did mention that it is a classic gun, and the price of up to a thousand dollars per piece might put it out of reach of more people. Lovely gun.
Jonathan brought over shotguns his friends and colleagues had brought specially for my visit, and plenty of ammo –compressed lead powder breaching rounds. These all shot very well, though Winchester Slugs did not cycle properly through the Remington 1100 Shotgun. I fired the Remington 1100, and the 870, solid shooting platforms. I believe I impressed the guys with my rate of fire and accuracy…
I moved on to other firearms, and it was like the day had just begun…I put rounds through –
The H & K P45, in .45ACP, the venerable Uzi, in 9mm with a sweet shooting long barrel. I also fired a Sig Sauer 556 Rifle… It brought back memories of training with and shooting the 7.62×51 mm Fabrique Nationale SLR when I was in the Air Force. I also fired a lovely, smooth Palmetto State Armory AR-15 Rifle. This belongs to one of the staff at Stoddard’s and they kindly gifted me 15 rounds of VERY precious 5.56mm ammo for that.
I also fired Jonathan’s laser-accurate CZ 527 Bolt-Action rifle, with a 4X Scope. I must confess I did not quite enjoy shooting this: maybe because I fired it mainly from a free-standing position… It also had issues with light hammer strikes, and failure to fire several times. I was also not very accurate with it: I did not know how to properly align my eyes to the reticules of the scope.
To cap it up for the day, Jonathan surprised me with the Kriss Vector PDW, chambered in .45ACP. Unfortunately I was not permitted to fire it in full auto or burst, as I had not completed the Stoddard’s Full Auto Safety class. I plan to do that next time I might be in the area.
You can check out the fun I had shooting on my Youtube Channel here. Check out the some more of my videos, and PLEASE leave a comment!
On the whole, it was a good visit, and I closed it out by buying from the Stoddard’s exceptional store: a Tactical Combat vest, and a “close-shaving” Cold Steel Survival knife.
I also got me (At last!) a proper Lyman 525gr Sabot Slug mould, and a BPI Roll Crimper. I would have loved to buy much more, but decided to leave some dollars for gifts for the family… We can’t be so selfish, can we?