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GUNS Magazine January 2010 - Page 24
MONTANA MUSINGS • MIKE “DUKE” VENTURINO • PHOTOS: YVONNE VENTURINO MARKSMANSHIP It’s on another level. fter many decades of being a hard-core shooting enthusiast, it A has finally dawned on me that being capable of shooting good groups on paper with long guns or handguns doesn’t equal good marksmanship. Here’s a prime example. A Montana friend, Steve Brooks is a custom knife and custom bullet mould maker. He is also a 2-time national champion in the NRA’s Black Powder Cartridge Rifle Silhouette game. On visits to his shop and he to my gunroom, we have looked over each other’s “trophy groups.” Such are the ones so good you tape them to the wall so visitors can ooh and aah over them. Steve always commented his trophy groups were never as good as mine. The answer is simple. I shoot practically for a living in order to present some information to accompany these columns and articles. Hence I get much more practice in shooting groups than he. Regardless, he has proven he is a better marksman than I. That’s because while he has won those two national BPCR Silhouette championships, I’ve only managed to struggle into the top 10 on two occasions out of 23 tries. The difference is marksmanship and means the shooter can direct a single bullet to a single target. Every shot is a feat unto itself. Think about it this way: Nobody ever shot a deer with a group. Nobody ever knocked down steel silhouettes with a group. Nobody ever defended his home, family, or life with a group. All those things are done by actually planting a bullet on a specific target. So why shoot groups at all? Group shooting is done in order to quantify a particular firearm’s level of precision or its compatibility with specific load combinations. Then the shooter is doing everything he can to trigger the firearm the same for every shot. He also makes every effort to ensure the rifle or handgun is carefully bedded into some sort of solid rest so the “test results” are as valid as possible. ThisBPCRSilhouettecompetitorisn’ttryingto downthosedistantrowsofmetallicsilhouettes withagroup.Eachshotinhisstringisafeat untoitself.(PhotobyJohnWorthington) Rests Also, take note of this idea. Have you ever heard anyone say, “Well, it’s a really windy day today so I think I’ll go out and shoot some groups?” No, group shooting is saved for good conditions so you’ll know how well the rifle or handgun and/or ammunition are performing together. Conversely, when someone is hunting, target shooting in a match or defending their life they have no control over weather. I’ve shot deer in driving snowstorms and participated in BPCR Silhouette events when the winds were so strong the targets had to be C-clamped to their rails to stand up at all. Also there’s no insurance policy you can buy in order to make certain a solid rest will be handy in real life conditions. In our BPCR Silhouette game we can OnceDukegothisLuger9mmproperly sightedinhewasabletostartbouncing bulletsoffofthesteelpaddlesregularly. 24 WWW.GUNSMAGAZINE.COM • JANUARY 2010