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Changing Plans

Advice for the Shooter

For the past 10 years or so, about this time of year I've made a trip to Abbeville, South Carolina to participate in a still target shoot. For the first few years I made that trip alone but Doris joined me when she started shooting in 2006. After our son and his family moved to South Carolina, we would combine the shooting event with an opportunity to see our son, his wife and our 2 grandsons. We had plans to make that trip this week but unfortunately, some issues arose that caused us to have to change our plans.

I don't know about you but I really hate to change plans. It doesn't make much difference what those plans are to do, I just hate having to make the mental and physical changes that are necessary whenever that happens.

The Abbeville shoot has always been a special one. We see a number of good friends and it's still early enough in the shooting season to see how we're matching up with the competition and try to make the adjustments that may be necessary to be competitive.

Since we could not make the trip, I decided to take one of my 20 gauge guns to the range just to make sure it was still shooting to point of aim. I'd shot it at the “Sweet Spring” still target shoot earlier this year and had loaned it to 6 other shooters at that same event. I had not been terribly pleased with the patterns I'd shot but frankly, when I am one of the organizers of a shoot as I was at that one, I just never shoot as well as I'd like.

I took some “big paper” to the range along with a box of 3” Hevi-13 shells with 1.25 oz. of #6 shot, just what we shoot in competition. Imagine my surprise when my first shot was about 8” to the right of the point of aim and about that much high. My first thought was that I'd just pulled the shot but the second shot was almost identical.

Wow, what happened here? The gun had been cased and handled carefully for its trip to the last shoot and I did not remember any rough treatment at the event or for its return and storage. It has a VXII Leupold scope, Millett rings and every thing was tight. The barrel had not been removed, nor had the choke tube. Everything was just as it had been.

Regardless of what happened or did not happen, it needed to be sighted in so that it once again was shooting to point of aim. That took a few shots but now it's back where it should be and ready for the next competition.

My thoughts turned to the 12 hour trip to Abbeville. I've made that trip so many times and if not for a change in plans, Doris and I would have been there early Friday morning and we'd have been shooting Friday and Saturday.

I have no reason to believe that the point of impact of my 20 gauge would have changed to a more favorable one on the trip. Based upon what I saw at my range, I suspect that I would have spent a couple of days a bit frustrated with my patterns and come away without any wins.

This time a trip to my range was a better alternative than the trip to Abbeville. I found out that my gun needed to be sighted-in again and was reminded that anything that can happen will happen. Just because my gun was shooting to point of aim the last time I shot it does not mean that it will be the next time I shoot it. Verify, verify...verify.

Maybe a change of plans wasn't so bad after all.



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