A few, well maybe more than a few, years ago I bought a used Marlin 336. It was in very nice condition and I had long wanted a lever action gun for range use and at some point, maybe hunting. The only modification I made to the rifle was replacing the original lever with a “wide loop” style that is a bit easier on my hand. I have no John Wayne pretensions and besides, he used Winchesters. It’s just a more comfortable way to get my hand in the loop to manipulate the action that way.
I shot it a few times and a friend gave me a low end scope to put on it. As I recall it was a BSA Deerslayer 9×40 scope. Now, I know that real rifle shooters will kind of laugh at that because cheap scopes are like cheap antennas on expensive radios.
About 10 years back I had an opportunity to shoot a Barrett 50 Caliber rifle. I think the owner told me that it cost about $10,000.00, but I’m not 100% sure. I do remember that he told me that he had a $3,000.00 Leopold scope on it. He said that wasn’t even a top end scope, but it was sufficient for his shooting. His shooting was at 600 yard ranges on his farm in Iowa.
I wasn’t even close to good enough to shoot that far out, but he did let us shoot at about 100 yards. It was amazing how accurate that rifle and scope were. We were shooting 12 gauge shotgun hulls and easily picking them off. It was also impressive what a .50 caliber bullet will do to a red brick at 100 yards. Pink dust was all that was left.
But, I digress as I so often do.
Back to my rifle. After a few trips to the range I was able to hit targets at about 100 yards, but then the scope fell apart and I had to stop shooting it. It wasn’t a defect, just the age of the scope. Apparently something dried out and the lenses fell apart.
I replaced that with another Deerslayer a couple of years ago, but never got around to taking it to the range and sighting it in.
I know that basics of sighting in a rifle from the Appleseed course I took some years ago. I’m not an expert, but have sighted in a couple of other rifles.
The first step I use is to go to our indoor range and use a laser bore sight to get the scope “on the paper.” My light is not all that expensive, but it’s worked well enough. The reason I use the indoor range is because it’s dark compared to the outdoor ranges. So, I did all of that got, the cross hairs lined up with the dot from the laser. Cool.
Outside I took a target and back up paper out to the 100 yard range and stapled them up. The back up paper was from a stack of architectural drawings someone donated to the club. It’s a nice white piece of paper that will show me where my rounds are actually landing. As I said, the bore sight is just supposed to get me on the paper and then I can dial in from there.
I set up my spotting scope and lined it up with the target. I set my rest down, set the rifle down, and took out a box of .30-30 rounds.
Understand that someone who really know what he is doing can get a rifle sited in with three rounds. I’ve seen it done.
I am not that person.
I fired my first shot, got up and looked through the spotting scope. I saw a nice white piece of paper and my target. Neither had any holes in them. I had missed the three foot by three foot target entirely.
I tried a couple of more shots with the same results. Finally, I noticed that I was hitting the berm over the top of the target. What?
So, I started experimenting by aiming at the bottom of the target frame. Ahhhh, now I was on the paper, but way, way, low. Interestingly, I was not off horizontally, just vertically.
So, I dialed in some vertical correction until I was near where I should be. Once I had that done, I hit the orange dot in the middle of the five dot pattern.
Not being one to make my life too easy, the only targets I had were NRA small bore rifle targets. Those are supposed to be used at 50 yards. At 100 yards, they look like little dots.
Once I had everything dialed in where it should be, I started working on the basics. Lock my off hand into the sling. Keep my off hand lightly on the fore end, not too tight. Use that to pull the stock into my shooting side shoulder. Concentrate on the target. Exhale and hold my breath. That’s actually pretty hard, by the way. Feet flat on the floor. Then squeeze the trigger and don’t drag my trigger finger across the bottom of the stock.
Oh, and keep the sights on the target after the shoot.
Well the concept is easy, but the execution is far less.
It was a fun, frustrating, and informative 90 minutes.
It’s a skill like any other and I have to remember to practice as often as I can. That’s if I can find ammunition. This is hunting season and although my state restricts deer hunting to shotguns, a lot of people who live here go to other states.
I’ll have to keep my eyes open for rifle ammunition when ammunition starts to show up again. IF ammunition starts to show up again, but that’s a topic for another time.
Shooting is fun, but hitting what you shoot at is a lot more fun.
The picture with this post is not of my rifle, but it is identical to it.