Time for shooting practice

The weather was perfect for being outdoors last Saturday, and I used this time to take a trip to the shooting range during the afternoon. The rifle I decided to shoot was a .22 rimfire Mossberg that has been in the family for more than 80 years. My father purchased this bolt-action rifle from Montgomery Wards in Charleston in 1934 shortly after he and Mom were married.

From the story that Dad told me, this particular rifle was on sale for $9.50. After all, this was the era of the Great Depression of the 1930s. I think Dad told me that he worked at the glass plant in Charleston for 62 cents an hour.

The location where I went to shoot was a private range out Files Creek that belongs to the Tygart Valley Muzzleloaders.

The members of the Mountaineer Chapter Izaak Walton League are permitted to use this range, as long as the Muzzleloaders are not having a shooting match. The range is also closed on Wednesdays for maintenance.

This old rifle has not been fired in at least 10 years and it could be closer to 15 years. I started out hanging a sight-in target at 25 yards. After putting five rounds in the tubular magazine, I started having a minor problem. The cartridges would not feed properly into the chamber. This resulted in a jam that took a few minutes to clear. This is when I decided to load this rifle in a single-shot manner from the breech.

The real objective in this outing was to see how well this rifle would group five different types of .22 rimfire ammunition. I started out firing Winchester-Western Wildcat graphite-coated, solid bullets. My first three rounds grouped 1¢ inches high and an inch to the right. After making the necessary scope adjustments, I hung five individual standard-sized targets for 25 yards. The various .22 rounds I would be using were Cascade Cartridge Inc. (better known as CCI) mini-mag solid point bullets. CCI mini-mag hollow-point, W-W Super X hollow-point, W-W Dynapoint, and W-W Wildcat solid point.

At 25 yards, all five of the various kinds of ammunition grouped differently, but well. The solid-point bullets appeared to be grouping slightly better.

Here is when I moved out to the 50-yard range and hung up a large paper target that contained five different bulls-eye type targets. At this range, I fired five different 5-shot groups at each target.

At the 50-yard range, the best five-shot group was the CCI mini-mag solid point. Four of the five shots could be covered with a penny. However, if I were to use this rifle for squirrel hunting, I would most likely pick the Super X hollow-point round. Hollow-point bullets are better for squirrel hunting because the lead projectile flattens out or expands when inside the animal’s body, which assures a quick humane kill.

When I finished shooting, I was quite pleased with the way this 84-year-old rifle performed.

When my father would talk about this rifle among his friends, he would often say, “It may look like junk and feel like junk, but it shoots surprisingly well for an inexpensive rifle.”

I know my eyes are not as good as they were 25 years ago, but from this last trip to the shooting range, I am not one bit disappointed with my shooting.

•••

The 2018 statewide spring gobbler season opened Monday. For most of the mornings of this week, the weather was not fit to be outdoors. I talked with a lady whose husband went out Wednesday morning at 4 a.m. and was back home before 8 in the morning. He told everyone that the hens and gobblers were just not calling.

To be successful at this sport, the hunter has to get out of bed a few hours before daybreak. For some of us old geezers, this alone is a difficult task. When in the woods trying to imitate the call of a wild turkey hen is not easy. However, having a gobbler answer back is why many mountaineer hunters enjoy hunting this challenging and majestic bird.

I have only bagged one wild turkey in all my years of hunting. This was during the fall when I was squirrel hunting with a .22 rifle during the fall turkey season. Lady luck was with me because I was simply at the right place and at the right time.

COMMENTS