When I need to do some shooting (and boy do I), I have two options. I can head forty five minutes north to Best of the West or two hours to the west to my family ranch. Best of the West is certainly nice, and for times when I have just one thing that needs testing, I’ll head that way. But I do my best thinking behind the windshield, I have a boss who is supportive of me taking a random Wednesday off, and my parents are working on trying out retirement. More often than not, a trip to the ranch seems to be winning the tossup. Long story short, I’ve been shooting a lot more over the last eight months, and a lot of that lead has been hitting a berm I didn’t have to pay an hourly rate for. But that shooting isn’t without a price . . .
The area where I shoot is just about the most perfect natural range that ever existed. I have a touch over a half mile of shooting lane, backed by a twenty foot berm, and various pieces of steel I’ve collected over the years. I can easily stretch the legs of most of the rifle cartridges I test, but I can also get up close to do some pistol work. Ever wonder why my recent rifle reviews are sporting a mention of a shots taken at 465 yards? Its because there’s a nice big oak tree I can sit under.
The problem has always been the neighbors. Well, not the neighbors so much. They’re really great people. But the fact that we have neighbors is the problem. Their house is about perpendicular to my shooting lane and a touch over three quarters of a mile off. Our range sits in a small depression that acts as an amazing funnel for the report of a rifle or handgun. It’s thoroughly loud and I’ve long recognized that it isn’t very neighborly to do a bunch of shooting at once or too early in the morning or late in the evening.
I shot myself in the foot metaphorically speaking a few Wednesdays ago testing out Ruger’s American Rifle in 6.5 Creedmoor. If you’ve never had the opportunity to be around the little 6.5 lighting off, you should. It is a LOUD cartridge and when part of your testing includes shooting for groups after getting a barrel hot, the noise becomes an additive nuisance. I didn’t know that the neighbors have also retired, so I figured that a Wednesday afternoon shooting session would be fine. What I didn’t know was that they were both at home, and got a front row seat for about two hours of sustained firing.
I know this because I got a call from my mom after a neighborhood block party to let me know that I needed to give them a call before I started shooting in the future. And a gentle nudge to let me know I should probably avoid sustained periods of firing as well, if at possible. And in the interest of keeping the peace, I’m probably going to limit my shooting at the ranch quite a bit in the future. What was interesting to me is that I didn’t hear a peep from them in November last year when a full auto MCX took up residence at the ranch for a weekend. The reason? Silencers. Sig Sauer’s head of silencer development, Kevin Brittingham, simply doesn’t shoot rifles without silencers.
Thanks to the NFA, this isn’t a problem I can solve very quickly. Even though I have a trust, threaded guns winging their way back from Accurate Ordinance, and a little slush fund, I’m four months away from being neighborly again. Silence and silencers are truly golden. I didn’t really understand the value until I threaded one on and shot in my little canyon.
Oh, and the picture above…that’s Nick’s Liberty Chaotic. He didn’t even get a chance to shoot it after they repaired it from the first baffle strike. Poor guy has to send it back for a second time.