I shoot Bullseye for several reasons. Those who know me can report that, yes, my #1 reason is for the camaraderie; I just plain like the people I meet who are shooting Bullseye.

But that’s not the only reason.

A sense of accomplishment is also important.

And with that also needs to be the knowledge that I’m getting better.

Well, the time has come to move up.

The NRA Pistol Rules rank competitors in several categories, among them are Indoor and Outdoor. My current Outdoor classification is Sharpshooter and it is there — outside — where I commonly shoot both 22 and 45 caliber guns, the latter having a heavier, and therefore more difficult, trigger.

My Indoor classification has been as an Expert and it is indoors where the 22 is more commonly fired. Indeed, some indoor ranges permit nothing larger. Consequently, shooters tend to do better.

But I’m now ready to move up. Indeed, I both want to get my Outdoor Expert card, and I think my shooting is just about ready as well.

The individual skill-levels are as follows.

Classification Percent 900 2700
High Master * 97 873 2619
Master 95 855 2565
Expert 90 810 2430
Sharpshooter 85 765 2295
Marksman less < 765 < 2295

My goal, the Expert class, needs a 90% mark. That is, I need to shoot an average of 810 points in Registered and Authorized 900s.

But scores are reported to the NRA for an entire competition. And, the NRA tallies “shots fired” as well as the score. In a 2700 I need to shoot at least 2430 as my total for the three 900s (3 * 810), and I need to “keep it up” at that level for at least 360 shots.

Within a competition, I can do better, or worse, on any given 900, as long as the average for the competition comes out at the 90% level.

For the 360 shots, at 10 points per shot, a 900 has 90 shots, and a 2700 has 270 — not enough. It takes four 900s, or a 2700 plus a 900 or, in my case, it will be two 2700s to accumulate the needed 360 shots.

For some time, my 22 scores have been around 840 to 850. If I shoot at that level outdoor, that will give me a 30-40 point “helper” on CenterFire and 45 scores. (And shooting 840 to 850, you can see that I could, on a good performance at several indoor matches, move up there as well — but I want to keep my Indoor and Outdoor classifications more or less in-line with each other. So I’ve been avoiding indoor Registered and Authorized matches for that reason.)

In the most recent outdoor matches, I’ve done better than expected. That’s especially true with my 45 caliber wad gun now that it has the roll trigger — thank you, Dan Norwood. It feels like I’m pressing on a soft pillow and, rather than needing to “build pressure” to break a shot, I now “keep it flowing”.

For the level of my ability at this time, the roll trigger is a real plus.

And tomorrow we shoot the President’s Day 2700 at the Phoenix Rod and Gun Club. It is an official event so the scores will be reported to the NRA.

And the following weekend has a second, and also to be reported, 2700.

If I can shoot both 2700s and score 2430 or better in each one, then the record of my most recent 360 (or more) shots will make the grade.

I want an Outdoor Expert classification.

That goal, and the determination to get there, will be driving my focus and attention for the next two Sundays.

Align the sights in the aiming area and then move the trigger straight back without disturbing the sights.

10s and Xs!


* Note:
Above High Master, there are the unofficial 2650 (98.1%) and 2670 (98.8%) clubs. Performance at these levels is truly stunning, especially when you take into account that this is not for one shot, but for a repeated performance over at least 270 individual shots.

NRA Annual Convention, Phoenix

The wife is still on the fence about going downtown today. Yeah, it’s gonna be hot but the light rail is supposed to be punctual so we’ll sit in the car until it’s almost time for it to pick us up at the park ‘n ride lot near Christown Mall. Then, it’s $2.50 each for the round trip (day pass same as two rides) to the stop right next to the Convention Center downtown. I have the maps and the schedule right here.

Her admission to the convention will be $10.00 but, for me, as an NRA member I get in free. I remind her to look at it as entertainment. (Update: She gets in free based on my membership!)

“Where else will you be able to see such an intense concentration of Libertarians with a few Republicans thrown in for seasoning?”

And I mention that today’s free “Refuse to be a Victim” session is at 1:00PM. I’d like us both to attend that. And the “Methods of Concealed Carry” at 2:00PM just down the hall also looks interesting but probably not for her. (She could use that time to check out the convention floor and find a set of grips for her as yet unknown carry that’ll match her mood — that’s how she packs for trips, by the way. “I have to take all this because I don’t know what I’m going to feel like wearing each day.” Okay, maybe a couple of sets of grips — to match her mood of the day.)

I’ll be stopping by booth #2406, Eagle Grips, to look at their ESS3s for my S&W 36 snubby that I’ll have in my pocket — my AZ Concealed Weapon Permit will be in my wallet just behind my driver’s license.

And I’ll be watch for Paul Huebl whose blog is one of my regular morning reads — Paul’s supposed to be wandering around the convention, perhaps today. It’d be a pleasure to shake his hand.

But time’s a wast’in. I need to cut the grass before the temperature hits 90 and then get showered and ready to go to the convention.

… Later

A lot of firsts today!

  • First ride on the taxpayer-subsidized light rail.
  • First NRA Convention I’ve attended.
  • First time I knew Phoenix has a Star Gate (see to the right above).
  • First time the wife went to anything gun related. (Well, that’s not 100% accurate — she did go to the range with me once years ago but she read a book while I took a lesson from Coach Pat, God rest his soul.)
  • First time we’ve seen the new Convention Center — and, Wow, it is nice!
  • First time my NRA membership card got me anything free — not that I’m complaining, just observing — and the wife got in free because she was with me. Not bad.

But it was crowded, very crowded.

The newspaper said they were expecting the largest crowd that’s ever attended an event at the Phoenix Convention Center and, judging from the registration line, the hamburger line, and the line at the air rifle range, yeah, they probably did just that.

The one booth I wanted to find was that of Eagle Grips. The floor plan had them in #2406, a relatively small space not far from one of the entrances.

But as luck would have it, I was holding the floor plan upside down so we walked half way across the arena before checking a few landmarks and re-orienting the map. We’d walked unseeing almost directly past it.

As we returned, I spotted it from twenty yards when I saw Paul Huebl’s toothy grin.

Meeting Paul was one of the reasons I had come to the show and, as if by magic, he was in the only booth on my shopping list. (I should add he’d put me on to these grips in the first place so maybe his familiarity with their product and his being in their booth wasn’t quite so miraculous.)

Walking up, I introduced myself and we shook hands. I introduced the wife, talked about blogging, my wife’s smile started to sag, we talked about grips for snubbys, my wife started to look around …

So we quickly drafted her to take pictures of Paul and myself with both his and my cameras. And after two exposures on each, Paul got busy with other readers of his blog and we moved on.

One of the bigger lines was for Ted Nugent.

Well, I thought to myself, with such a great first meeting with Paul, let’s go shake hands or something with Ted Nugent.

“There, did you see him look up in our direction, dear?”

Waving, “Thanks, Ted!”

Man, what a great pal.

Uhm, what should we do now?

“I’m tired,” my wife said. “How about if I sit over there in that chair and you go see the exhibits for a while?”

God doesn’t make ’em better than the one that married me.

So I wandered the floor for a while. I bought tickets for a couple of different raffles, listened to salesmen hawk their wares and shove brochures into my hands that later went into the recycle bins, dropped the hammers on a couple of S&W revolvers, asked the young lady in cowboy clothing why the Ruger factory in Prescott AZ doesn’t give free samples when someone just stops by to see what they’re working on today … but all I got back was a smile.

Still, it was a nice smile.

On the way back to where my wife had been patiently waiting — I kept my perambulations to 30 minutes, I’d like you to know — I took a quick turn through the NRA Store.

They had some new items I hadn’t seen a few months earlier when I visited their museum in the Washington DC area but, somewhat expectedly, the prices again seemed just a tad high.

Mind you, I don’t mind supporting the NRA. I like what they’re doing.

And on my Washington DC visit, I did buy an NRA baseball cap — Made in China — and also an NRA emblazoned wind breaker — Made in Vietnam.

But I normally prefer to be a little more direct in my gift giving and not muddy the waters of “value” by paying more for something than I felt it was worth.

So I looked but bought nothing and headed out to where I’d left my wife sitting in a very comfortable looking chair.

Walking up I asked, “Ready to go?”

We reached home an hour later and we were both drained from the walking and the heat. The weatherman says it was 102 at the airport but downtown at the convention center with those tall mirror-like buildings and big expanses of concrete and asphalt, it surely was another 5-10 degrees hotter.

Dinner was take-out chinese washed down with several glasses of water.

Hours later, sitting in the dark with only the glow of the 52″ LCD TV and a taped episode of NCIS, we were starting to feel mostly recovered.

But I’m goin’ back tomorrow. There’s more to see.

The wife will, undoubtedly, stay home in the cool house but, oh yeah, I’m goin’.

It’s huge and really nice, and so very, very different from the junky, dirty gun shows. There’s carpet on the floor, good air conditioning, clean rest rooms, new guns and equipment in expensive displays.

Besides, I need some newer catalogs.

I need one from Brownells, Champion’s Choice, Midway, Cheaper Than Dirt, IMMR, Hodgdon’s, Springfield Armory and, of course, Smith & Wesson. I could also pick up some brochures on black powder long rifles, shot guns and high power rifles, and maybe one or two on smallbore. I saw the Clark booth and, at the other end, the one for Kimber. (I wonder if Dave Salyer or Ed Masaki are here?) And there was that one really interesting display of Kentucky long rifles over on collectors row. I wonder what it feels like to heft one of those into position?

Yeah, I gotta go back.

So many guns, so little time.

National Firearms Museum

National Firearms Museum

On a recent business trip to the Washington DC area, I had a couple of spare hours to visit the National Firearms Museum. It’s in the NRA headquarters building in Virginia, just west of Washington DC. For those with street mapping GPSs, a good map or who are familiar with the area, the street address is 11250 Waples Mill Road, Fairfax, VA.

As a handgun enthusiast, I was pleased to find a large variety on display including many of amazingly odd designs. For example, there were several with flippable dual-barrels as well as a revolver with a side-mounted cylinder. It was also interesting to note that the oldest handguns required a wrist angle very similar to today’s free pistols.

1911 on display

Although there was no section devoted to Bullseye nor any of the other shooting sports except the Olympics, many of the handguns we all recognize were to be found in various displays. Indeed, finding all the 1911s took a bit of searching but the computerized indexes scattered around the museum made it easy to look up any particular gun’s details.

All in all a very enjoyable, and free, two hours.

Also, the museum’s gift shop has the best collection of shooting-related publications I’ve ever seen in one place, and of a much higher caliber (!) than those commonly seen at gun shows.

If you are in the Washington DC are, I recommend a visit. It’s open seven days a week and is completely free. See the museum’s website at for details.

NRA Range Waiting Room

And lest I forget, the NRA headquarters also houses a very nice 50 yard indoor range complete with sound-proofed waiting and visitors room. Bring your iron!

Wow, just imagine having a shooting range right where you work! That’d be even better than Lockheed-Martin in Littleton CO with their on-site outdoor employee shooting range.

I can hear the boss now, “OK, this afternoon’s meeting has been moved to the range where we’ll take some pot-shots at the latest development plan, wadcutters only, please.”