New Shooter Report – New Zealand Edition

After much delay, I finally present the New Shooter Report – New Zealand Edition. My apologies for the significant delay and lack of pictures. We were mostly focused on shooting, and I’ve been focused on graduate school applications since then.

Introduction
My friend Ashley grew up in Texas, went to school for a few years in Arizona, and now lives in New Zealand. For some reason, she never once handled a firearm during her upbringing. While living in New Zealand, she met Amanda, a native New Zealander. Amanda had shot firearms before, but it’d been some time since she had.

Ashley was traveling to the US to visit friends and family, and had invited Amanda — who had never been to the US — along.

While visiting friends in Tucson, Ashley proposed the idea of going to the range, Amanda agreed, and a small group of people also decided to come along.

So, over Veteran’s Day, we went to the Tucson Rifle club.

Pictures

Ashley shooting the suppressed 10/22

Ian K, Amanda, and myself inspect a target

My suppressor on my friend's Ruger-clone .22, with my 22/45

Teresa shooting the 22/45 while Louis watches

Louis shooting the suppressed Ruger-clone

Chris shooting the suppressed Ruger-clone

Ian K and Chris

Ian L watches people shoot

Conclusion
Nothing like a fun day at the range with old friends, new friends, and new shooters. Everyone had a great time, and much ammo was turned into smiles.

Trigger Time

After a long dry spell with no time behind the trigger, I visited the Southeast Regional Park Shooting Range, a range run by the Pima County Parks & Recreation Department, with my friend Ian.

I had several objectives:

  • Try out a new range.
  • The Great Rezeroing — I’ve switched my primary ammo in my ARs from Federal XM193 to Prvi Partizan M193 and so wanted to rezero.
  • Try out Prvi Partizan 69gr and 75gr match ammo.
  • Actually get some shooting time in, rather than just taking new shooters to the range.

All of these objectives were accomplished

The Range
The range consisted of 30 firing positions. Each position had an ambidextrous concrete table from which one can shoot. One could also shoot prone, if one wished.

The entire line is protected from the elements by a corrugated steel roof. Range staff frequently walk the line to ensure that everything is safe (and the ones from today were very nice, not grumpy). Firing periods consist of 15 minutes of shooting and about 5 minutes of target-checking. The change in periods are announced over a loudspeaker.

During the cease-fire periods, shooters needed to unload their firearms. No unloaded-chamber-indicator flags were necessary. No handling of any items on the shooting tables is permitted during the cease-fire period.

The fee to shoot there is $7/all day per person. Additional fees are charged for rental items like earmuffs and eye protection ($1/each), spotting scopes ($3), rifle and pistol sight-in rests ($5/$3 respectively), boresighters ($3), and a chronograph ($10, with the caveat that if you shoot it, you buy it). Additional targets are provided for $0.25.

The range provides wood target frames, which seemed to be kept in good repair. Taller frames, marked with bright orange paint on the top, are required when shooting in such a way that bullets passing through the ordinary-height targets could bounce over the berms (e.g. shooting a handgun at close range). The taller targets allowed the bullets to pass through and continue on to the berm, rather than bouncing off the ground.

Small carpets are available to place on the concrete table, so as to avoid scratching the finish on one’s gun. Additionally, carpet-covered wood blocks and sandbags are available for free.

The range is divided with two berms separated by a long, tall concrete wall running perpendicular to the firing line. The closer berm peaks around 75 yards, and allows shooting at distances up to 50 yards. The longer range berm is located at ~225 yards and allows shooting at distances up to 200 yards. There are sockets in the ground placed at convenient intervals (e.g. 5, 10, 25, 50, etc. yards) for one to place target frames. Sockets are numbered to avoid placing one’s target frame in someone else’s lane. If one wishes to bring one’s own target frame for shooting at arbitrary distances, this is permitted so long as the frame is made entirely from wood.

No full-auto fire is permitted. Range staff will inquire about NFA items, like suppressors, but it is not necessary to declare these items ahead of time.

The range staff keeps the range quite clean, and will often pick up brass during cease-fire periods when one is downrange. Reloaders should ensure that they collect their brass often, or ask that the range staff not pick up brass in their immediate area. Obviously, one should pick up after oneself simply to be polite. Buckets are available to deposit brass.

All in all, SERP was an excellent range. The Three Points Shooting Range (also known as the Tucson Rifle Club) is larger, has longer ranges, often has fewer people, and does not have a hot/cold period on the range. SERP is a bit smaller, has a few more shooters, and has active supervision from range staff. SERP is also $1 more per person, if this matters. Both ranges are excellent and well-maintained, though SERP has better tables and stools.

One more note: there is a drinking fountain available at SERP, but no sinks for hand-washing. I didn’t notice any restrooms either.

The Great Rezeroing
I printed out a few of the M16 zero targets from here and setup a target frame at 25 yards. After a few three-shot groups of Prvi M193, I was able to dial in both my 20″ and 16″ ARs.

I then moved the target back to 100 yards, put on some Shoot-N-C-type targets and took slow, aimed shots. Shots were striking 8″ high and 8″ to the right of the point of aim. Shots were consistently grouped in a ~2″ circle. To ensure this wasn’t an ammo issue, I switched ammo brands and had the same deflection.

The target was then moved to 50 yards. Again, rounds were striking high and right. I moved the target to 25 yards and re-zeroed (just using Shoot-N-C, rather than the zero target, which I had used up). After re-zeroing, all shots were striking within a reasonable radius1of where I was aiming, both at 25 and 50 yards. I have no idea what caused the rounds to strike so high and right after the first zero, but it was somewhat frustrating. Hopefully things are where they should be.

Prvi Partizan Match Ammo
Most of the day consisted of firing three-shot groups to get the zero dialed in. Unfortunately, with the brief exception of the 100 yard attempt, most of this shooting took place at 25 or 50 yards — hardly an adequate distance to judge the quality of  match ammo.

Even so, I fired 60 rounds of 69gr and 20 rounds of 75gr Prvi Match ammo.

The 69gr stuff is quite good, and had small, consistent groupings at all distances. Even when the point-of-impact was distant from the point-of-aim (totally the fault of my sights being off, not due to any ammo problems), the groups were pretty tight. The ammo’s certainly more accurate than I am. For reference, the lot for the 69gr stuff is 0901.

The 75 grain ammo was also quite good. My 1:9″ barrels stabilized the bullet at the distances I fired it. There were no keyholes or sideways strikes. I will test this at longer ranges and see how it performs, as a 1:9″ twist is supposed to be marginal at best for >72gr bullets.

One downside, though: one of the primers in the 75gr ammo popped out and could not be located. It wasn’t in the action of the rifle, so it must have ejected somehow with the casing. The casing was found a minute or so later with the head all covered in soot and the primer missing. This has never happened to me before. The lot of the 75gr ammo is unknown, as Prvi puts the lot number on a little slip of paper and evidently someone at the store had opened the box and the paper probably fell out.

Even if the Open Tip Match bullet was suitable for self-defense (the jacket is the same thickness, and not designed to peel back and open), the fact that a primer could pop out and gum up the works troubles me. I’ll stick with crimped primers for Serious Business ammo.

Getting Trigger Time
It’s been a while since I’ve been to the range. Most of my previous visits involve taking new people to the range, so even then I don’t get to shoot much. Today, I went with Ian, another avid shooter, and actually spent some time behind the trigger.

In addition to the Fun Happy Times chasing my zero around, I also wanted to function-test the 9mm Federal HST jacketed hollowpoints I recently purchased. I really like HSTs in .45 ACP, but have been carrying my 9mm Glock 19 recently due to its more compact size. The fact that I also have a SERPA retention holster for the Glock also comes into play. I’ve been carrying Federal Hydra-Shoks in the Glock for years, and they’re certainly excellent rounds, but the HSTs seem a bit better to me2. I wanted to ensure that the rounds would feed and fire reliably in my pistol, so I bit the bullet (ha!) and burned through $22.95 worth of HSTs3 today. Granted, 50 rounds is not sufficient to make a proper statistical analysis, but it served my purposes: there were no failures and the rounds hit where I was aiming (the Hydra-Shoks had a tendency to shoot a bit to the right).

Conclusion
All in all, a great day at a new range. I got a bit of sun, got some trigger time, zeroed my rifles, and tested out my defensive pistol ammo.

Now, if only I could afford to do this more often…

  1. Nothing is perfect, especially not my shooting. []
  2. Any difference is likely academic. Both cartridges are excellent. []
  3. A 50-round box. Yes, I have started counting ammo based on cost, rather than round-count as I’m a poor student. []

New Shooter Ammo Fund Update

Thanks to generous donations to the New Shooter Ammo Fund, I have been able to purchase an additional 80 rounds of .223 ammo for teaching new shooters.

While 80 rounds might not seem like much, most new shooters I take to the range really seem to love the ARs, and so an extra few magazines worth is always useful.

I could have gotten quite a bit more .22LR than .223, but the local shop was short on .22, and didn’t have stuff that my 10/22 seems to prefer.

Many thanks to all those who’ve donated. The fall semester is off to a busy start, and I don’t have as much time as I’d like to take new shooters to the range (heck, I don’t know any more new shooters! Anyone in town want to send them my way?) right now, but hopefully that’ll become possible as grad school applications go out.

New Shooter Report

Rita and Teresa have been accompanying me to the range for some time. They are regulars at turning ammo into smiles.

Interestingly enough, Teresa happens to be dating Nolan, Rita’s brother. Now that Nolan has moved to Tucson for school and had never been shooting before, we all figured it’d be a good thing to take him out to go shooting. So we did…

Once again, it was a beautiful (albeit hot) day in Tucson. Thank goodness the Tucson Rifle Club has overhead shades for the firing line.

Rita, myself, and my med student friend Ian spent a few hours on Saturday reloading .223. Out of the 120 or so rounds we fired today, there were only three failures1, none of them dramatic2. It’s nice actually having some .223 ammo, as my ARs are quite voracious.

I had also dug about in my closet and found some .30-06 reloads, so we were able to shoot the M1 (Rita has a bit of a love affair with my M1, and really enjoys shooting it.) a bit. Shooting the M1 seems to be a family trait, as Nolan also greatly enjoyed shooting it. There’s something immensely satisfying about recoil, .30 caliber bullets, and large dust clouds behind one’s targets.

As usual, the suppressed Ruger 10/22 was a big hit, as were the Ruger MkIII and Glock 19 pistols. Fun was, as usual, had by all.

The fall semester starts up again in about a month, so I’m hoping that I’ll be able to find some new shooters to take to the range then. For now, I’m happy that I managed to get another new shooter out to the range. When Rita and Nolan’s parents are in town, I may have to take the whole family out shooting.

  1. Two were jams due to the out-of-round bullets we’re using. One was due to one of the rounds having some goopy black residue on it. []
  2. Note for reloaders: double-check your bullet weights against the load data tables. I foolishly assumed that we were using 55gr bullets as that was what I normally load and picked a middle-of-the-road load from the tables. Turns out we were using 62gr bullets and the powder charge we were using turned out to be rather near the never-exceed range for .223. Eep. Fortunately, we never actually crossed the never-exceed line, and even so the loads were several thousand PSI below the 5.56mm NATO pressure spec, which is what the rifle was rated for. Fortunately, we discovered this condition at the reloading bench after we loaded a few hundred rounds, so we were able to confirm that the loads would be safe by consulting the tables. The rifle did not explosively self-destruct, which is good. []

No Sporting or Civilian Use

That’s what the Brady Campaign says about common guns like the AR-15 and various other features associated with common arms. The full quote from their page is as follows:

The Brady Campaign supports banning military-style semi-automatic assault weapons along with high-capacity ammunition magazines. These dangerous weapons have no sporting or civilian use. Their combat features are appropriate to military, not civilian, contexts.

Of course, this position is demonstrably false: these guns and features have plenty of sporting and civilian uses. I present the following as an example:

This is Louis. Attentive readers will recognize him from previous posts as he is a regular attendee of trips to the range. The gun he is firing1 is a Glock 19, chambered in 9x19mm. It is equipped with a Glock 33-round extended magazine. One will note that Louis is demonstrating good shooting form and is displaying a smile of enjoyment. The extended magazine allows Louis to spend more time shooting and less time stopping to reload magazines.

Here is Rita, who also frequently accompanies me on trips to the range, fires the Glock 19 with the standard-capacity 15-round magazine that is one of two included with the purchase of a new pistol.

This magazine allows for 50% more capacity than the Brady-recommended 10-round low-capacity magazines while still fitting flush with the bottom of the pistol’s grip. At the range, having five fewer rounds means more changing magazines and more time spent reloading — less time having fun.

Next up, we have Danielle:

This was her first trip to the range. Here she’s firing a DPMS A-15, an AR-15 variant. It is equipped with all the standard features: a flash suppressor, bayonet lug, handguards which encircle the barrel, a 30-round standard-capacity magazine, a pistol grip, and a collapsible stock.

In this particular context, the bayonet lug is not being used, and so is no more dangerous than any other piece of metal2 on the rifle. The flash suppressor is not really relevant, as Danielle is shooting during the day and so does not need to worry about the flash from her muzzle affecting night vision — that said, the vents on the flash suppressor reduce the amount of dust kicked up from the ground, making her shooting experience a more enjoyable one.

The pistol grip and collapsible stock allow for comfortable shooting: she has adjusted the stock to a length which suits her. The ordinary fixed stock is too long and it is often uncomfortable for smaller shooters like Danielle.

The pistol grip allows for a firm, ergonomic, comfortable grip on the rifle. The forward handguards, which she is not using in this particular picture, prevent her from being burned by the hot barrel when she chooses to use her right hand to hold the gun rather than support her shooting hand.

The 30-round magazine is the standard size for AR-15 type rifles, and allows her to fire for a good period of time without needing to stand up or move around to fetch and load a new magazine. This also allows her to focus more on shooting rather than changing magazines. In this particular picture, she’s also using the magazine to support the rifle, allowing for more stable, accurate shooting.

The very features that the Brady Campaign claims are “combat features” that “facilitate the killing of human beings in battle” are being used by Danielle and tens of millions of other civilian shooters to enhance their safety (e.g. handguards that prevent burns) and comfort (e.g. ergonomic pistol grip and a stock that can adjust to be comfortable for both larger and smaller people).

Here Danielle is seen shooting a Ruger 10/22 rifle, chambered in the lowly .22 Long Rifle cartridge, which is equipped with a threaded barrel and a Gem-Tech Outback II silencer.

The Brady Campaign states that silencers “allow an assassin to shoot without making noise” — while this is true3, I think they might be watching a few too many James Bond movies. Assassins are exceedingly uncommon outside of Hollywood films, and any actual assassin will not care about the legality of silencers. They also claim that, “silencers are illegal so there is no legitimate purpose for making it possible to put a silencer on a weapon,” a claim which is demonstrably false: the silencer on this gun is perfectly legal, and I have all the appropriate paperwork in order.

Though I’ve addressed the legality of silencers in a previous post, I want to reiterate that there are perfectly legitimate reasons for wanting to own and use a silencer: I use mine primarily for introducing new shooters to shooting, as the low recoil and noise of a silenced .22 rifle makes for a very pleasant learning experience. Additionally, the use of a silencer reduces the levels of noise produced by a gun, reducing noise pollution and hearing damage.

In conclusion, there are numerous, perfectly legitimate sporting reasons for the private ownership of “military-style semi-automatic” firearms4 and magazines with a capacity greater than 10 rounds. There are plenty of other, non-sporting reasons (such as self-defense, collecting, etc.) for owning such firearms and accessories.

In short, the Brady Campaign is full of crap.

On a more positive note, it was a glorious, sunny day here in Tucson, and I was pleased to spend the day in the company of good friends, fine guns, and delicious food and (after the guns were put away) beer.

  1. Note the brass ejecting. []
  2. The edges of the lug, however, are a bit sharp. []
  3. Partially, at least — silencers reduce the noise produced by the gun to a safe level, but do not completely eliminate it. []
  4. Which, I’d like to point out, are functionally no different than non-”military-style” semi-automatic firearms like the Ruger Mini-14. []

Thanks!

I checked my email the other day and noted a donation to the New Shooter Ammo Fund from Carl (last name omitted for privacy).

Thanks Carl, I really appreciate it. While my schedule is hellishly busy right now, I’ll see about taking some new shooters to the range in the next month or two.

Low-Key Shooting Invite

I’ve had a long, busy week and would like to do some low-key shooting at the range on Saturday. No huge groups, just some relaxing, low-pressure shooting at targets.

I need to practice a bit more, and figured tomorrow would be a good day to do it.

Anyone else want to go?

Update: It’s rather windy tonight, and I’m really pooped. I don’t think I’m going to make it tomorrow. Maybe Sunday, if the winds die down.

Saturday Shooty Goodness

I’ve spent so much time over the last few years teaching new people the basics of shooting that I’ve not really had time to practice on my own. Alas, I seem to have lost quite a bit, and need to practice more.

Saturday was supposed to be a big group shooty time, but we had 5-6 people either cancel at the last minute (one due to feeling ill, so that’s ok) or simply not show up (turns out that they had partied a bit too hard on Friday night, and were still sleeping it off). As such, it was just Doug, Louis, and I who went to the range.

Doug had been working on a small, programmable microcontroller for a few weeks. His hope would be that when the chip detected a sharp sound (e.g. from a gunshot), it would fire an IR LED with the proper sequence to trigger the shutter on a Nikon camera. We wanted to get some pictures of bolts cycling, as human reaction time is just too slow to get satisfactory pictures. Unfortunately, the microphone was a bit too sensitive, and the wind kept triggering it, so we abandoned that plan and just ended up shooting all day. Oh well.

Doug with his diabolical contraption and Asus Eee PC.

I had a fair bit of .223 piled up (~400 rounds), so we decided to run it through both of my ARs. Both the 16″ and 20″ ARs handled Federal XM193F, Ultramax 55gr, and Prvi Partizan M193 flawlessly. No failures of any sort out of the 300 or so rounds we actually fired.

Doug and I doing...er...science. Ammo-testing science.

It’d been far too long since I was behind a trigger, and I admit that my technique has degraded a bit. While rusty, I was consistently rusty. So long as I maintain that consistency, I think I should be able to improve quickly with some more practice. For practice, I think I should find a specific, standard type of ammo (like Prvi M193 or something), zero for it, and

I'm actually getting some trigger-time!

In addition to the standard paper targets, we also brought my Do-All-Traps spinner target that Sarah had given me for Christmas. According to the box, it’s rated to handle 9mm Luger all the way up to .30-06 Springfield, so long as one uses soft point bullets. Alas, I have no soft points, and factory loaded SPs are considerably pricier than FMJs. Previous tests with various bullet types seemed to indicate that the two “spinner” targets could handle .223 FMJ with no damage, while the “reset” target developed a small dimple, as it didn’t have the same range of motion as the spinners. We figured that so long as we shot the spinner targets with .223 FMJ, it’d be ok.

Unfortunately, this previous testing was done with my medium-powered handloads, and not the hot, mil-spec Federal XM193F stuff. One of us (I think it was Doug) goofed and shot the reset target with one of these speedy little bullets, resulting in a grape-diameter dent in the steel and there’s a substantial bulge on the back of the target. Wowzers, this is some hot stuff. A few shots later to the spinners resulted in one of the spinners breaking in half and sending a semi-circular chunk spinning a few feet downrange.

Evidently when the manual says “No FMJ”, they mean it. It applies double to mil-spec FMJ. Who would have thought? Oh well. Anyone in Tucson have a welder? It’d be nice to re-weld the target and put some heavier steel plate on there so I can shoot FMJ at it without a problem.

As .223 is expensive, we also did some rotations on the suppressed 10/22. Alas, the spinner target is too heavy and .22 won’t flip them up. Even so, the targets go “ping” and bounce around, which is fun. When we went downrange later, there were a bunch of flattened out lead disks around the spinner — evidently the .22s flatten out almost completely and just lie around the target. We weren’t able to find any .223 fragments, not even pieces of the jacket.

As fun as the ARs are, I think I’m going to need to spend a bit more time behind the 10/22 to get back in practice. Inexpensive ammo is wonderful, and .223 is anything but inexpensive.

Between school, trying to get in shape (both in general and for the wedding), and work, I don’t have all that much time for range trips, but I see about making some time, possibly over the summer. Maybe get involved with some regularly-scheduled things like silhouette or action-shooting matches. We’ll see.

Planned Shooty Goodness

Myself and several others are planning on going to the Tucson Rifle Club this Saturday for some shooty goodness. It’d be great if any readers wanted to come along.

The current plan is to bring 1-2 new shooters, and possibly one anti-gun individual, so if you decide to come along, be nice. :)

Current plan is for personal friends to meet up at my residence, go over safety and basic gun-handling, and leave around 11:30am-noon. The plan is to arrive between about 12:30pm and 1pm. If any readers wish to come along, send me an email and I’ll provide contact information so we can coordinate.

Sorry for the short notice, but this was put together at the last minute.

New Shooter Ammo Fund

The costs of running this blog are extremely minimal, about $20/year or so. Well within my meager student budget.

However, ammo costs a fair bit of money. While I wouldn’t think of asking readers to contribute money for my own personal ammo budget, I’d welcome any assistance that readers might be able to offer to help me provide ammo for new shooters that I take to the range. None of the ammo funded by such donations will be used for my personal use, though I may shoot a magazine or two so as to demonstrate things to new shooters.

I’ve put a small PayPal button in the right column where people can donate, if they wish. Of course, this is entirely voluntary, and nobody should feel the least bit compelled to donate. If you do donate, please let me know if you’d like your name (or pseudonym) and URL mentioned in posts, and I’ll gladly give you credit in the new shooter reports. Those who wish to stay anonymous will have their wishes respected.

I feel very awkward asking for donations of this type, and hope that nobody feels any less of me because of it. Unfortunately, donations to the New Shooter Ammo Fund are not tax deductible.

…..

Update: I also thought of a different option: if people would be more comfortable donating ammunition itself rather than money, please contact me and I can provide my shipping address. The top priorities are .22LR (both super- and subsonic, though subs are preferred; Winchester Dyanpoints work excellently with my suppressor, are subsonic out of a 16″ barrel, and are not nearly as expensive as purpose-made subsonic ammo) and .223 Rem/5.56mm NATO (62 or 55 grain bullets are fine — I’ll gladly take even “cheap” stuff like Wolf). For safety purposes, I’m only willing to accept factory-new or commercial reloads (like Ultramax or Miwall), not individual reloads or handloads. Cheap imports are fine, so long as they’re safe to use and meet relevant specs (e.g. SAAMI, NATO, etc.).

Lower priority but still important are .30-06 Springfield (M2 Ball spec only, as it’s being fired from an M1 Garand which has very specific pressure tolerances), 9mm Luger, and .45 ACP.

In certain quantities, I may be able to help pick up part of the UPS shipping. Contact me for details if you’re interested.

Private