Its been a long while – I have been reading and commenting, but finally got to do some writing.
As many of you know, where I stay is not the kind of place that I can, for example, gather up the loose change in my cupboard, and go buy some more 9mm for the weekend practice. Neither can I holla at some friends to grab their rifles to join me for some competitive fun at the nearby range after work every Thursday.
In my country, you should not let even your close relatives know you have a firearm: the black-sheep cousin could be the one to come steal it, or get drunk and blurt out to hearing LEO ears that he thinks you are a gun-runner or something. Cue Police tearing your house to bits that very night; that is if they do not shoot you outright! [Even if you present your permit – which they will insist is fake, even though it was issued and stamped by the Police themselves!]
I live in a city in the very South of my country, known as the “Oil City”. It used to be quite volatile with ‘Militant’ activity – which is just an euphemism for criminal activity: thugs armed by politicians who then started organizing gangs to break oil pipelines. They set up their own jetties, and stole or fabricated mini-tankers/ manufactured barges, siphoning crude oil to go sell to Russian or Philipino cartels waiting with larger tankers off the shore, further down in the Bight of Benin.
All this was [And still is] in exchange for cash, drugs, and guns. Which then fuels the vicious circle all over again. All this is mixed with robberies, home invasions, carjacking, kidnappings and such. It used to be a regular Tijuana down here… It is slightly better now.
My favourite firearms pastime; in the early days – 2007 to 2010, used to be going to some of the surrounding remote bush land, including an abandoned Palm Oil plantation, to shoot my shotgun, make videos and test some of the work done with my self-fabricated shells and slugs. With all the tension in the south increasing since, I have LONG discontinued this activity – I suspect I must have narrowly missed running into these militants in the bush before, and I definitely have been “stalked” once by a Pipeline Patrol helicopter.
So. I. STOPPED.
No more shooting or hunting in the south. I can’t afford to get killed! Man! Do you know how expensive and elaborate funerals are here? I tried to insist in my will to be cremated and to have my ashes fired out of several 12ga shells, but my folks couldn’t hear of it… Their loss. Imagine breaking clays with the ashes of your loved one, preferably over the sea… Wow.
I come from the middle part of the country, and with a large spread of farmland in the family, I can shoot anytime I like when I am back home. So nowadays, I shoot, film and test only when I travel home. I even get joined sometimes by local LEOs when I go shooting…
Now, travelling home is another challenge on its own. It’s a five to six hour drive [When the roads are good] and in the rainy season, when there are long stretches of mud sprinkled with faint traces of asphalt, a trip could be as long as ten hours long, spent dodging crazy drivers, gullies, sheep, cows on foot, trucks filled with cows, and in some cases, filled with shepherds sitting ON TOP of their cows! Haha!
So, basically: I only get to shoot only very few times a year, if at all. SAD.
And a single cartridge of 12-gauge birdshot is equivalent of $2 each here. BIRDSHOT!
So, what have I done to keep up practice, practice, PRACTICE? You all know this is the key to shooting proficiency, accuracy and firearms dexterity.
So what did I do?
I have got myself a Benjamin Trail NP Air Pistol, and a large amount of .177 pellets. It handles well, and helps me practice.
So the question arises: am I simply shooting lead pellets carelessly around a room in a home!?
No – after some months of shooting into backstops made out of foam and rubber designed to trap every pellet, I constructed a steel pellet trap of my own.
This is a simple box fabricated out of 2.5mm steel plate, and with the added advantage of being able to use magnets to hold up targets, it is awesome. Sturdy construction, portable and I can also put items in it as targets. Of course, this needs a cloth or rubber backstop too, or else pellets bounce all over the room.
Can you imagine the sweetness: you sit at your desk, work for a few hours, then chillax from time to time by firing off a few rounds, all in the comfort of your man-cave…? Or you get back from work, print out a target, and fire off a few shots to calm yourself down from a hectic day… [I’m not going to suggest whose face you should print on THAT target! Ha-ha!]
This way, you are continuously honing your shooting stance; trigger control, accurate shooting etc. while sitting at your desk, in the house – no one banging at your door in alarm over the sound of gunfire. I usually shoot at eleven to twelve feet, and my mindset is that I need to practice to consistently get three .177 Airgun pellets into an eye-sized target at that range, in quick succession, every time. I know this sounds morbid, but in this life: you plan for the worst.
It all works, I initially had a bit of a tough time with the factory sights, so in typical Y-man fashion, I fabricated something… There’s practically nothing that a Dremel and a bit of well-mixed JB Weld cannot solve!
Another thing I have done, to keep myself “in the game” so to speak, is to occasionally carry out room clearance drills [When everyone is away from home, of course, and the house is EMPTY!]. After killing boredom by practicing these drills several times, I have become quite good at it… But man! It isn’t easy doing these drills with a shotgun! A pistol would be much better… Well, a man can dream! But in the meantime, I have also run drills with my Air Pistol, with targets skillfully arranged in the rooms: including hostage and bad guy made out of cardboard, backed by thick plywood to trap the pellets. I must also mention, that pest control has become very interesting recently. The darned rats never stay still long enough, but at least 3 snakes [Largest was about 5 feet long!] and up to 16 lizards have “felt the wrath…” of my pellets Ha!
There is a “grassy knoll” near my house, run-down, uncompleted lots… So some pests still find a home there… They occasionally stray into my “fortress” – Usually their last mistake!
I once bought some snap-caps on Amazon for 12ga, but these turned out to be cheap plastic, they got badly mangled by the extractors. So, again, as usual with me – fabrication! I came up with some stainless steel snap-caps that are not much heavier than the real thing. But I have discontinued using them for actual firing training now: can you imagine how flattened the firing pin must be getting? Striking a hard, unyielding steel face several times… I am working on counter-sinking a small hole, and filling with a rubber pad to simulate the “give” of the primer on a real shell… Or I might just buy good snap-caps instead.
I must confess, just like how many years of familiarity means some of you can unerringly direct a stream of liquid into an white, oval, ceramic target, even at Zero-Dark Thirty, the amount of time I have spent with my shotgun, cleaning, oiling, loading and unloading, tightening, adjusting, manipulating – means that shotgun has become like an organic extension of my own body. It is shocking how fluid, and natural all my actions with that shotgun have become. Instinctive shouldering to sight, instinctive safety button manipulation… Now I see what my Weapons Training instructor meant when he said we needed to “make love to our rifles…”! [He used to almost always break into singing Gerald and Eddie Levert’s “Baby, Hold on to me…”]
Like all sane gun owners though: my REAL prayer is: may I never REALLY need to use this firearm. But if I DO have to use it; may I use it WELL!
The situation in my country right now, with Boko Haram more or less on the run. The army has reorganized – with a former Army General as our new President, the funding is finally going the right way. There are Special Forces raids on Boko Haram sites almost daily. Bombing raids: Air Force Alpha Jets, and Chinese supplied [But locally flown] J7 fighters [Chinese copies of the venerable Mig-21], and very many helicopter assaults [Hinds and Gazelles] using well trained troops.
There are some retaliatory suicide bombings – almost all localized in the North East. And the violence is limited mostly to the North also.
On the whole: it looks positive.
Lest I forget: I will be in Atlanta GA for a work seminar from the 14th of November to the 22nd. Of course, after work, I hope to do some shopping, take in the sights and do whatever nice that comes up… Any of you in the Douglasville area?