Friday, May 29, 2015

It begins.

After all the crazy that has been happening around here of late, I sniffed a chance to do something meaningful with the girls in the short space between naps and making dinner.  So I rounded up the Air Venturi Bronco, the girls got their safety glasses, and we went out onto the porch for a bit of "chicken-and-sheep".  That's the game in which one of the girls calls a target, and from Standard Ready I mount and hit it.  (It started with two rimfire spinners at 10m, one a chicken, the other a sheep...and now it has expanded to include a second spinner sheep at 25y, self-sealing Newbold targets at 10, 25, and about 40, a paint can lid and a few soup can lids hanging in the spruce trees.)

Both girls got chances to load and call, and then we wound up with a variation in which each girl called which target they wanted me to hit at the same time, and if they didn't call the same one, I had to hit the target closest to the midpoint between them.  A good mental processing exercise, with that many targets available!

After a bit, the 3yo decided to go back inside, and the 6yo then got her first chance with a manual stopwatch, timing my shots from her call to the hit, which she seemed to enjoy.  And then I offered her the chance to take her first shot.  She got a bit wide eyed and said sure.

Conditions were good.  Vibe was good.  We rested the Bronco's fore-end on the railing of the front porch/deck in my right hand, and she got pretty comfortably behind the rifle without having to lift it. We went through exactly what she was going to do with sight alignment, safety, and trigger, and I provided whatever elevation adjustment she needed with my right hand as she figured out how to look through the aperture and hold the post on the big yellow disk.  Okay, ready?  Breathe.  Safety to Fire position. Back on post.  Find trigger blade without pressing.  Still on post.  Okay, now start slowly pressing while staying on post, a little wobble is okay, slowly more press, slowly until--POP-THWAP--the trigger breaks.  An obvious hit at the 10m line.

Finger straight.  Smiles.  She even asks me if we should put the safety back on before opening the action.  (You do neither with this spring-piston breakbarrel design, but still, "A" for attitude!)  We conclude and she goes in to tell Mom.

And so it begins.


Saturday, May 16, 2015

Nothing like a few quick shots off the porch to brighten your day.

Took a few minutes this morning to reconnect with the TalonP carbine I put together last November, which has apparently been on back-burner for a while.  

Click for more bigger awesome.

Just a few offhand shots on the 25y rimfire spinner, off the front deck, followed by a top-off fill to 3000psi.  Total time from the first thought of "hey, I should work the airgun" to refilled, clean, tightened piece and accoutrements all put away, was probably twenty minutes.  And this is the complicated pellet gun, which trades a few operational conveniences for the potential of nearly half the power of a .22 Long Rifle.  (I could have put the same number of shots downrange with the breakbarrel AV Bronco in under half that time, from first-thought to all-put-away.  The Bronco is not about power at all, but rather about easy, high-volume practice shooting--and it is very, very good at that.)

Yeah, I have become a fan of airgunnery as a valuable personal training tool.  :-)

Confirmed:  I really do like this piece, and look forward to learning more about it this year with working chronography, a goodly supply of .25 caliber pellets, and a whole lot of manual pump strokes into the Hill pump.  With a little luck, I'll be able to work with the six-year-old on some select tasks as a school subject (physics, arithmetic, and statistical concepts in chronography and in accuracy testing), and of course work on my own as well.

For whatever reason--maybe it's just warmer now and things have loosened up--I was able to roll the power adjustment wheel with little issue, and so adjusted it all the way down to the bottom of the scale, where I fired the last few shots of the session.  This should set things up well to begin testing how miserly the gun can be in terms of shots-per-fill, and what power it generates at that level.  I suspect even at the lowest setting there will still be plenty of power available for the sort of game I'm most likely to pursue (think spruce grouse and snowshoe hares), and as anticipated I am already beginning to appreciate the effort required to feed a PCP ("precharged pneumatic") airgun with a high-pressure (2000-3000psi) hand pump.  I still love the concept, but it's enough effort that it does tend to keep you from wasting shots needlessly.

Once we get things dialed in for chronography testing and most-accurate-pellet choice, I look forward to swapping out that lovely but huge and heavy Leapers glass for the Walther dot sight, and adding a Giles sling to make the piece more wearable.  The whole plan for this piece in the longer term, after all, is to serve as a knockabout carbine of minimum bulk and weight;  someday I still hope to acquire a "slightly bigger brother" in the form of the AirForce EscapeSS, which features both readily interchangeable barrels (and a reputedly subtler valve) and sound suppression built into the frame.  (That's the piece I think the Leapers glass would be ideally suited for.)  The two guns could share air tanks and parts, and I like the idea of having one set up as a .22 (for higher-volume shooting) and the other as a .25 (for maximum power and range).

I did notice that the top hat came loose again, which was a little aggravating.  I may have to use threadlocker on those tiny set-screws after all.  (If I'm reading things right, the top hat is mostly a set-and-forget item anyway.)  We'll see how a really good scrunch goes.

Functionally, there's still only one thing I have reservations about, and that is fumbling the load in really cold weather.  I seem to notice that every time I shoot the piece, even when (like today) the weather is just fine and there is no trouble at all.  It's as though now that I've thought about it, the brain can't let go.

Very well, then, I'll make it a matter of practice and habituation.  Shucks.  :-)

Friday, May 1, 2015

Yeah, but I know this grapevine.

In the last week I have noticed a distinct splash of attention to politician professional cretin Bernie Sanders in my Facebook feed.  Even before he officially announced his candidacy for the next edition of the I Wanna Rule The World Sweepstakes (which happened yesterday), it was apparent enough what was going on.

Given most of the comments, I must conclude that the functional dynamic here is completely lost on the general public, from the fawning acolytes to the partisan predictions of intergalactic collapse.  And it's not just a simple case of statist beer goggles, either.  Even before taking a degree in "political science" all those years ago, and even as a blissfully ignorant statist back then, it just didn't seem that hard to figure out that the purpose of a candidacy like Bernie Sanders' has nothing to do with actually vying for the position.  He's not there to compete for the throne himself;  he's there to make the party-designated front-runner look less toxic in comparison.  (Tough gig, I know.)

The party machines do this all the time.  If they have identified their golden child this early in the game, the strategic goal is to encourage as many "fringe" candidates to join as possible, in order to make the party designate look like the least disgusting best possible option.  (You'll hear variants of the phrase " chance of winning..." more and more leading up to the primaries.)  If you can keep in mind that it's never actually an open field--never--then all the dynamics, posturing, marketing, and breathless suspense actually make perfect gameplay sense.  The whole point is to wind up, at the point of the primary and through the general election, with a unified set of pragmatic partisans, usually dissatisfied with the party choice (who is invariably an Establishment cretin) but effectively cowed into supporting it as the (wait for it) ..."least of evils".  Sadly, this is wildly effective.  The machine gets what it wanted in the first place (wait, wut, you mean the House always wins?), the plebes can pat themselves on the back for having considered the matter carefully and made the agonizing "best choice" as informed voters, and the whole lot can get about excoriating the Other Team for... procedural shenanigans, misdirection and misinformation, and generally being more concerned about politics than protecting life, liberty and property.  See how this works?

Anyway, so here we have the "self-described democratic socialist" Sanders, who is going to wind up doing nothing more than making Hillary look more palatable to the credulous. That is the point.

All of which reminds me of the "grapevine" scene from Johnny Dangerously.  What starts as "Hey Bernie, wanna ingratiate yourself with the Party?  Go be yourself and make people forget how bloody hideous a human being Hill is..." becomes "w00t! Bernie for President!"

Embedding is disabled, but here's the YouTube clip.

Sanders won't be the last such stage prop, and of course the Respublikans will go through their own breathless gyrations to validate their own predestined choice, until then the Grand Illusion of "Choose Your Master" will be finally set, giving people yet another opportunity for The People to choose The Establishment once more.

Oh, swell.