Thursday, October 16, 2014

It's What One Does in Arizona!

In many respects Arizona still seems to be frontier territory in the old West.  Most people forget that 160 years ago, Tucson was in Mexico and since the Gadsden Purchase many of the traditional stories of the West took place in that strip of land in southern Arizona.  I'm thinking the boom and bust mining of Bisbee, Tombstone and the OK Corral, that sort of thing.  And true to tradition even today, Arizona has some of the most lax gun laws in the country.  Though rarely seen, no permits are needed to carry a gun on your hip.  No permits are needed to purchase firearms through private sales.  There are a LOT of gun stores in Tucson, and guns seem to be accepted as part of the culture here.

With my self-proclaimed liberal status, I didn't feel much need for a handgun.  But over the years, I've spent enough nights in the desert that I've got stories to curl your toes, so thought it prudent like many Arizona astronomers to pack some "heat" with the other telescope accessories.  In fact, I got my little handgun from a local astronomy store, which had been traded in towards a telescope purchase!  I bought it about a year ago, and occasionally pack it when out alone observing. 

And in order to be a responsible and safe gun owner, it is best to use it occasionally to lessen the chance of accidents.  To that end, some buddies occasionally get together to go out shooting in the desert just outside of town.  My friend (ER) Doctor Chuck (shown at left) served as the range safety officer, reminding all of us of safe practices, and in the details of the guns we were using.  At left he is demonstrating a 9mm pistol, at right is the 38 service revolver of (retired detective) Dan above, and  Chuck's 45 below.  My little Sig Sauer .380 (nicknamed the "pea Shooter" by the guys) isn't shown.

Our location in the desert was in a depression to contain shots that miss the target.  I'm not sure it was a dug-out hole for a watering hole for cattle, a mine exploration hole, or what, but it serves the purpose well.  At left, our location is shown with Chuck's "dueling tree" set up.  The targets swing around to the other side when hit, so two shooters can compete against each other for accuracy and speed.  The problem with my lil' "Pea Shooter" is that it doesn't pack enough power to swing the target. It will budge it, but not swing it around...  The location seems to be a popular place for shooting - at right is shown the ground peppered by casings and broken bottles from a wide variety of calibers of shooters from long ago, given the corrosion over the years.

It was a lot of fun to try different firearms - I did
best with my own and Dan's 38.  Hardly anyone preferred the 9mm - not sure why, we just missed a lot with it...  Sue, a new shooter shown at left shooting against Chuck, did well after some training and pointers.  Sam and Dan, who carried his 38 every day at work, did well too.  After an hour, folks had things to do, so we cleaned up our brass and packed up.  As for the part of the ammo that came out the muzzles, most disintegrated into shrapnel, but a few that hit the steel square on was located near the "tree".  Shown at right are a few of the bullet remnants I picked up - rather interesting!

We already picked dates into November.  Considering that it had been nearly a year since I've shot before, I'm looking forward to getting out again sooner!

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