Will write for ammo, but I had forgotten that real shooting is tough…

The start of the day, when it was still chilly. This is the view from the 1,000-yard line. And if you click the photo and zoom in, you’ll see some vehicles at the upper left-hand corner. They are parked at the 200 yard line. (Seriously, just think of this view the next time you read about some sniper shooting a thousand yards.)

I had the most amazing thing happen this past weekend. I had a reader/follower of the site take me shooting.

We had tried to set this up last month, but it fell through due to all the snow and ice. Last Saturday, the weather was perfect and we made good on our promise.

I’ll be honest though… When the offer was made, I tried to decline. After all, I have very few guns now, having been forced to sell most of them to keep the newspaper going back when it was in its start up phase and not making any money.

Additionally, I hadn’t shot a rifle in in seven or nine years. (Truthfully, I can’t remember the last time, and trying to remember based on the life-landmarks of divorces, near bankruptcies, and practically being homeless just isn’t much fun, so let’s just say it’s been a hell of a long time since I have shot a rifle.)

So I was worried to death I’d embarrass myself, and figured stating the truth — that the only rifle I still own is an ole’ lever action given to me from a deceased relative, and that I hadn’t shot in forever — might be enough of a reason to politely decline an incredible offer from a fellow veteran.

But, this veteran came back with the even more absurdly generous offer to bring his M14 (or the civilian version, the M1A) and all the gear we needed, PLUS ammo, AND he’d even come to Oak Ridge (where I live).

At that point, I just couldn’t say “no.” Not to mention, I’ve always dreamed of shooting an M14.

Thus, we made the shoot happen this past Saturday. It was truly an incredible day and since we shot from 200 and 300 yards with iron sights, complete with raised and lowered targets, it really took me back to my Marine Corps days.

Two things stand out from the day.

First, I had forgotten that real shooting is work. Sure, plinking at cans or stumps is fun. But when you back up to 200 or 300 yards, you’re going to be in very uncomfortable positions and you’re going to be concentrating at Zen-like levels. Additionally, if your arm’s not numb from a sling cutting it in half and your back’s not killing you from being bent over in the sitting position for thirteen minutes, then you’re probably not doing it right.

Secondly, it was incredible how giving many of the instructors were that day. It was an open shoot for mostly new shooters and there were many super experienced shooters there, who seemed happy to be teaching a bunch of newbies. Four or five of them, who I won’t name, were ranked national shooters, i.e. the best in the country who shoot in ferocious competitions at Camp Perry. These included several “Distinguished Riflemen,” “President’s 100” shooters, and at least one former National Champion.

Me, at the end of the day: Sweaty and exhausted.

The way these near legends just gave and gave last Saturday was nothing short of remarkable — and I found out afterward that it’s not out of the norm; they do this regularly.

So, to wrap up, I want to send out a huge word of thanks to Old Gyrene, who let me borrow his rifle and reminded me how a Marine should shoot, as well as all the instructors who helped make it happen that day.

It was truly an incredible day for a prior Marine who hadn’t shot in such a serious way for FAR TOO LONG, and it was really a remarkable feeling to have as an author. I mean, some guy I had never met found me on the internet, subscribed as a follower, enjoyed my books, and eventually wanted to meet me.

Is that not every author’s dream? (Add in that he’s a two-tour Vietnam vet, who earned a Purple Heart, and it’s just impossible to describe how honored and humbled I am by the entire experience.)

Again, thanks Old Gyrene, and all involved.

Keep the faith,

Stan R. Mitchell

About me: I’m a full-time, action-fiction author with books similar to Vince Flynn, Stephen Hunter, and Tom Clancy. I’m also a prior infantry Marine with Combat Action Ribbon, and a guy who spent 10+ years writing every day in the newspaper business. Please consider subscribing for email alerts — I mostly post about things that either motivate you, inspire you, or make you laugh.

21 thoughts on “Will write for ammo, but I had forgotten that real shooting is tough…

  1. Stan’s too modest to point out the pure fact that Marine riflemen retain their basic skills regardless of time passed.
    In his first string of 10 rounds, he shot 91/100 – and would have done better if his coach (that would be me) did a better job of adjusting sights.
    It was a great day at the range and I’ll join him on a fire team any time.


    1. You’re too kind, OG, and having a Vietnam vet say they’d serve on a fireteam with me is the highest honor I could ever receive.

      Regarding the 91 out of 100, all credit goes to the Corps. They’ve spent 200+ years perfecting how to drill holes in small targets and I was just honored to have been accepted into their glorious ranks, and I’m super proud I didn’t let them down on Saturday.

      Again, a huge thank you for taking me out to the range!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. “A little heavy for some people…”
      The one Stan is holding is a little heavier than what we were used to back in the early 60’s.
      It is a “National Match” model with a beefed up barrel, operating rod assembly, and a couple of other improvements.
      There is also a “Super Match” version that reminds me of hauling a BAR.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Bruce – I was going to bring a Garand also, but it started mis-feeding during rapid fire last year. I’m having it re-built, and will have Stan take a turn with it later this year.
      After that, he’s just going to have to take a turn with the M1903A3. 🙂 I have one made by Remington (in 1943), that is pretty amazing at 200 & 300 yards.
      All three shoot about the same for me until we get to the 600 yard line. Then the M1A/M14 consistently shoots better groups. It might be difference between the 7.62/.308 round and the 30-06 – or it might just be me.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I am reminded of a 1966 match at Quantico- iron sights at 1000 yards with a competition M-1. Two bulls eyes, followed by one off of the paper. It was a hot, breezy day. The old pros were adjusting their sights 10 or 20 clicks after each perfect shot by reading the mirage in the spotting scope- experience, lots of it.


    1. Wow, Peter…. That’s just incredible. I can’t even imagine iron sights at 1,000 yards. Except for maybe “area fire,” i.e. at a building or for suppression. But wow… A circle target at that range with iron sights? That’s just incredible!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Stan – Mondays from 1500 until dark, the LD range is closed except for the 1000 yard firing line. A bunch of crotchety old guys show up (with heavier ammunition) and we all pretend we can still see that far.
        In the summer months, the sun is coming from over your right shoulder and the contrast on the target face is pretty distinctive.
        It takes something in the neighborhood of 50 clicks of elevation, but eventually the rounds get down to the pits. The better shooters will consistently put rounds in the 10/X ring.
        Put it on your Bucket List.

        Liked by 1 person

          1. Stan – I shoot the high end Federal Premium 175 GR rounds from back there, and I think the arc/drop is 243 inches. Will double-check that.
            One thing’s for sure…everyone in the pits is really careful to stay under the overhang. The arc is putting the rounds right at the very bottom of the impact zones and it keeps folks mindful.


  3. Somehow missed this post, you lucky dog! Couple of buddies have M1A’s, where we shoot, we can only get around 300 yards. I remember shooting at the range at Stone Bay with the rest of H&S Company. After we got done on the 500 yard line, STA Platoon would close the road, set up across the street and shoot. That seems like a million years ago. SF.


  4. Great post, Stan. I have to say that my shooting days were a long time ago, and that was with the .22 rifle and .410 shotgun my grandfather gave me. (I still have the shotgun. The VP says it’s great for home defense.) Did some handgun training a couple years back at Sealed Mindset in MN. An indoor range just opened in the NW WI town where I work, so I will check that out. By the way, I invite you to check out my own blog: http://www.djtindellauthor.com. First visit is free. 😉


    1. Jim – unlike the real M-14’s, the M1 Garand’s are still available and won’t put too big a dent in your wallet. My club had a “Vintage” match this past Saturday. Garand’s, M1903A3’s, and other assorted military pieces from the first half of the last century. It felt great to be there shooting and hearing those rifles bark.
      Nice web site, BTW. I always forget that your part of the world has some beautiful out-back kind of country.


    2. Yikes! But you’re not the only man to regret selling some rifle or pistol you once loved. I’ve got a decently long list, too. (Most of mine were sold to keep my newspaper business sold a few years ago, when I thought that was crucially important… Argh… In hindsight, how the hell could I ever have been so dumb!)


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