Tess and I went up to PHX for a four-way birthday: My dad's, my uncle John's, my brother Shawn's, and my sister in-law Lauren's (Shawn's wife). The party was on Saturday, and we all had a great time. There were zero shenanigans and much fun, which is always welcome. Uncle John recently bought a .50 caliber bolt action rifle, and so we planned a small, impromptu shooting trip for Sunday afternoon. Not having smelled burnt gunpowder in quite a long time, I was eager to go. I was doubly eager when I learned that my friend of 20 years Andy was going to meet us for the party and then go shooting that next day. Hanging out with Andy at night and shooting in the morning is just about my idea of a perfect weekend.
Tess unfortunately started getting sick Sunday morning, and opted to stay at my parents' house. That meant that I could drive my 4Runner, and then leave the shooting thing early, getting us both home sooner than expected. I was originally going to fly out Sunday night, and Tess was going to drive (with the dog) back to San Diego, but we figured that we we could save some cash by me driving us all back after the shooting trip. That way, Tess could nap all day. And I really didn't want her driving, and us driving together saved us a hundred bucks, so it worked out fairly well (as well as it can with one person feeling like ass, I suppose). And for the record, I'd like to say that Tess is an A-1 trooper for bearing up while I went off with the boys. A luckier fella you will not find.
We went to a place off I-17's Bloody Basin exit. It's about halfway between Phoenix and Prescott (where Andy lives), so it worked out well for all of us. After driving a while, we found a flat spot with a big, mountainous backstop not too far away. We set about placing 1 gallon recycleable plastic water jugs up on the far hill (about 200-250 yards away) and broke out the guns, cameras and tables.
Uncle John made a terrible discovery while unpacking: he brought the wrong scope for the 50BMG and so couldn't mount the optics -- there were no rings. Since his new rifle had no iron sights (which would be useless on a rifle than can hit targets out to a mile), this was somewhat of a let-down. We decided that we should at least see if the thing could fire, even if we couldn't see how accurately we could fire it. After all, it's not every day that you get to shoot a .50 caliber rifle, and there we were with it and a few hundred rounds of ammo. And we all wanted to shoot it pretty badly (even -- and especially -- uncle John; he had fired a lot of different weapons during his tours in Viet Nam, but never an M2 ). So we shot it by sighting down the barrel, which was accurate to within about 30 feet at 200 yards. We called it a "break-in" period.
We took a bunch of pictures with the aforementioned cannon. This is one of me (complete with a really goofy look on my face) trying to hold it up. Yes, the gun is as absurd as it looks, and it weighs a ton. But it can shoot a really, really long way. I was badly wanting to try it with a scope, but happy to shoot it anyway (I did get pretty close to my intended water jug target: about 10 feet or so).
Andy brought a few guns with him as well, including a few "special" ones: a select-fire M16 and a select-fire Mac-11 with a silencer (picture the gun Bruce Willis used in his apartment to shoot John Travolta in the movie Pulp Fiction; it's the same exact weapon, and fires just as fast as it did in the movie). They are both hellaciously fun. I had never shot the M11 before so for the first magazine, I set it to semi-auto and picked a far-away rock at which to plink. At around 100 yards, I had to put the tip of the front site just a little bit over the top of the rear peep site to hit the beach-ball sized rock (meaning I didn't look through the hole of the rear site).
Single-shot was nice, but that's like driving a Ferrari 55 MPH. You only get so many chances to open one of those up, and so it is with a fully-automatic, silcened submachine gun. Besides, the M11 isn't exactly known for its accuracy (when I told Andy where I had to sight the weapon to hit that far-away rock, he was surprised; he had never tried to shoot it at a target that far away). So the next magazine I had with it went pretty fast, although I shot in groups of two or three. I was very impressed with how accurate it was in that mode. You hold it at your hip or with the wire stock tucked under your arm, and you "guess" where it's going to shoot without sighting it. Then you very carefully squeeze off two or three rounds, and note where they hit. Adjust accordingly, shoot again, and when you get where you want to be, you just hold the trigger down. I covered a decent-sized area out by the water jugs, and while I didn't hit any of them, a human-sized target would have had a hard time being there.
The M16A2 on full auto is just as nice. I do confess to one small problem with M16s in general (and those firing fully automatically in particular): the noise the spring in the rear stock makes goes right through my head. I find M16s/AR15s very hard to shoot comfortably. So I off-handed the M16 in a way similar to the M11. It's easy to get close when you've got 30 or so rounds coming out that fast.
Since we got there at about 3:30 pm, we didn't have a lot of time to shoot (even less when the Yavapai county sheriff who heard the full-auto fire came by wanting to see Andy's Class3 paperwork -- which he had and which she was happy to see). We started packing up well before dark (we save all our brass), but Andy had a couple magazines loaded that he wanted to blow off. There was a cattle pond a little ways away from where we set up, so he went there to shoot (we had all taken off and packed up our hearing protection at this point, so he had to go somewhere else to shoot). Andy went out there and laid down what can best be called a "suppressing fire". He just swept 30 rounds of .223 from side to side into the small pond, and the water plumes made everyone think of the fountains at the Bellagio.
Of course, nobody had a camera pointed at the event, so we had to recreate it. I figured twice the plumage was twice the Kodak moment, so I got 32 rounds of 9mm from Shawn, loaded Andy's M11, and then met Andy by the pond. On the count of 3, we shot our guns. That's me on the left. I swept left to right, Andy right to left. You can see some of the impacts of his rounds on the right while mine were gone by the time the pic was taken. The M11 fires at a higher rate than the M16. I wanted to shoot a .50 caliber round into the pond for comparitive spray purposes, but the rifle was packed by that point.
I'm looking forward to a trip where we can use the ATVs at the cabin to drive targets out to a mile. I seriously want to put money down on "closest to the black" on a one mile target. I just don't want to wait while we walk all the way out to the target.
Aside from Tess being ill, it was a good trip.