May 29, 2010

GMTA, Range Report

I got up this morning, and proceeded with my usual routine. Ablutions, food, beverage, switch on the internet, and catch up with the world.

As I was settling on the couch, it struck me how far we've really progressed in the last ten or fifteen years.

Fifteen years ago, I was accessing BBSes (remember those?) by dialup, on a lightning-fast 14.4kbps modem. Occasionally mom would let me use the "internet" at her office and I'd peruse what little there was of the "world wide web" using Netscape. Thirteen years ago, we got dial-up internet, on a 56kbps modem. At the end of that summer, I moved to a college dormitory, and plugged in my 200MHz PowerMac to the dorm network. Holy high-speed, Batman! Speeds have done nothing but increase as time goes by.

Fifteen years ago, dad got his first cell phone - a bag phone, actually. Coverage was poor, quality was mediocre on a good day, and plans were measured in tens of minutes per month. Twelve years ago I got my first phone. Coverage was still poor and pre-paid phones were nearly a buck a minute. Eleven years ago I got a non-pre-paid phone. 120 minutes a month, voicemail was extra, and there was no such thing as texting. Since then, plans cost about the same, but coverage is nearly universal, minutes have increased by an order of magnitude, texting is universal...

And now, they're combined. That's what really struck me. I opened my phone, tapped the "Mobile Hotspot" button, and waited a few seconds for that to connect. Then I opened my laptop and browsed the internet - by wireless, via my cell phone - at speeds comparable to that dorm network.

Then, tonight before work, I saw this post from JayG. GMTA.

In other doings, I finally got my father to the range last weekend. I've been trying to go shooting with him for a while now. He's not a gunny, by any means, but he's comfortable with them. He's also a pretty fair shot, if out of practice. (He qualified Expert-Rifle in basic back in the 60's, on the M14.)

I wasn't sure what he'd want to shoot, so I took an assortment: 1911, 5946, Mod. 67, 642, 22/45, SA Dragoon, AR, and MkII. We got to the range, set up target stands at 10 and 25 yards, and I started opening cases. I let him choose.

He reached for the 1911 right away, and picked it up with a bit of a faraway look in his eyes. He hefted it, and aimed it down the range, then lowered it and looked at it again. He looked at me and said, "You know, I always took one of these camping with the Scouts in Alaska."

"I know. I figured it would be familiar."

"It's been 40 years since I shot one of these... it feels right, but ... I don't remember the details."

We went through the manual of arms, and he dry-fired it a few times, then I handed him a magazine. He popped it in, and asked, "Which target should I use?"

"Whichever one you feel like."

He brought the gun up, and he went for the 25-yard target. His stance was so-so, and his grip was horrible (he started with a teacup, then went to the movie-classic wrist-brace), but the shots were true. He dropped the mag when it was empty and turned to me with a smile. "Can I go check my target?"

We made sure the guys at the other end of the line were cold, then went down and looked. Slow and steady, and he had put all seven shots into the 12" target.

Back to the line, and he fired another magazine from the 1911, after a few pointers on grip. I showed him high-thumbs, and he tried it - but reverted back to his teacup pretty quickly. I didn't correct him again.

He tried the rest of the pistols, and he made it clear that he preferred the single-actions. Don't get me wrong; he hit what he aimed for with every gun he picked up, but he liked the 22/45 and the 1911 the most. Can't say as I blame him.

I spent some time with the rifles, and the AR started malfunctioning (feed issues; need to oil things!), but he stuck with pistols, and mostly the 1911.

I spent more time watching him than shooting, and it struck me as I watched him ... Dad isn't as young as he was. The last time he shot a 1911 was in 1970, when he still wore OD green and a staff sergeant's chevrons. His beard is mostly white, and his hands are starting to show a few knots and spots.

He remarked on the way home that he wants to get to the range again - sooner rather than later. Maybe I can convince him to get his own pistol permit. He picked up that 1911 like it was an old friend, and I'd love to get him one of his own.


t.kubic said...

I understand your dad completely. After 20 years I left the military in 1982 and didn't buy a gun until 2003. One of the first I bought was a Systema Colt (1911 by another name). I now have a small collection of 12 pistols and 14 rifles but my favorite is still the 1911. It's hard to break with something you used for so many years. I use the teacup grip too. It's what I first learned and it works best for me.

Anonymous said...

I can picture that smile on your dad's face when he turned to you! He may not be as young as he once was -- none of us is -- but he's got the wide-open smile of a kid, and it's one of the things I've always liked about him.