This is what we would call a learning experience. It’s also what we’d call a hell of a fun day out in the bush. I have said this before, but I never get tired of finding open space out in the country. It’s always fun to go out and try out some new gear. I brought my buddy Dan, who looks more accustomed to a battle axe than a tactical shotgun. But if it gets him out of the basement and away from dice, then it’s definitely a more than worthwhile experience.
We hiked for only 4.6 kilometers before setting up the range. The Eberlestock backpack was phenomenal. I carried the shotgun with me out, and the SKS on the way back and both times I could barely feel the weight of the gun. It was astonishing. There were several marshy areas we had to hop, skitter, and jump across, and every time I was able to keep balance just fine. Dan, who was stuck with the other gun slung over his shoulder often had to hand off parts of his gear to me in order to have his hands free and make it across the various brooks and creeks we encountered. When we had identified a site to shoot from and a suitable range the gun came out smoothly hand over hand.
The badlands case on the other hand was a different problem. While my initial idea of having one handed opening to access the monocular was correct, stowing and closing the pocket proved to be more difficult. In fact, it proved to be next to impossible. I may have attracted a wounded crane looking to mate with my flapping around self trying to reach across my ribs to store things.
When we stopped I wound up removing it, using the quick snaps, and re-mounting it on the chest strap of my backpack. This fixed the access problem but was a little more bulky.
The other problem came from sighting in. Let me be clear: when trying to adjust any sort of scope, having the right tools helps. All torque wrenches are not made equal, and the ones that adjust the Vortex strikefire sight are not the same as those that adjust the Barska red-dot. The second problem is how you mount your scopes. Somewhere along the line, I wound up with an extra high mount designed for a flat-top AR-15. That puts the scope tube a fair distance away from the SKS barrel, and I’m thinking the low profile hunting mount would be a worthwhile purchase. We spent a full hour toying with scopes, trying to figure out if we were high or low at particular ranges, before jumping back to the iron sights just so we could happily shoot something.
I’ve discovered what thousands of close range shooters already know: open sights offer better visibility and target acquisition than most scopes. Things are just more fluid when you don’t have to deal with glass or elevation. You can just dial in your adjustable iron sights and shoot.
Having a spotting scope would have also helped. The 7.62X39 SKS makes very small holes, meaning at 100 yards we often weren’t even sure if we’d hit the damn thing. You’d have to stop, walk out there and jump across a small creek before you could see what sort of results you got. I was pleased to learn that my Bates Boots are still waterproof.
We did some fun stuff too. Move from point A to B without being seen, then shoot and explode these abandoned beer bottles. Or fire from standing, crouching and prone in a brief period. But I rigged up my camera to take a full-auto stream of images during one of our runs, and this is what it produced. It’s a little embarrassing to see just how geeky I look doing these things, but damned if it wasn’t a shit-ton of fun anyway.
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