Your Subtitle text

Long Ago and Far Away

By Mike Precure

Long ago and far away my father would tell me stories. He told me about long range shooting. He grew up in Oklahoma, west Texas and New Mexico where the spaces are wide open. He loved the precision, control, engineering and physics of rifles and rifle shooting. He told me about hunting jack rabbits on the Texas plains. He told me how they would run away but if you stood still and just softly whistled they would stop running and turn to look– which made the shot possible.
A picture for my dad

He taught me how to reload with a Lyman tong tool and his oil-damped powder scale. We loaded one shell at a time, always measured to the tenth of a grain, at the kitchen table. He always wanted to try long distance prairie dog shooting. He wanted the challenge of very long shots in tricky cross winds. The years passed. Things got busy and though we talked about it a lot we never actually went varmint shooting. He did get invited to try his hand at a groundhog on a friend’s farm. Sadly, however, the groundhog died of natural causes before he got his chance. But we still talked about varmint shooting, a lot.

We talked about the 22-250, the barrel throat burning Swift, the Zipper, The Bee and the Hornet. We talked about twist rates, mirage, wind drift, triggers that broke like glass and pillar versus full bedding blocks. We talked about French versus Claro walnut and the practical but aesthetically ugly “plywood” stocks.

We talked for decades. Decades passed. We never went. A tumor on his pituitary took his sight. A misstep off a curb took his mobility. I called him every day in the nursing home to ask him questions about cartridges, actions, bore capacity, cut rifling and the real cause of wind drift. We talked about Miller’s twist rule though Greenhill’s does just fine. I had the internet. I could research whatever I wanted. I called him because I knew how much he enjoyed thinking about all the complex nuances of shooting. No matter how much I googled, no matter how many experts I had at my fingertips, he already knew the answers. He couldn’t have read a magazine or a reloading manual or anything else for ten years and yet he knew everything.

Three years ago, he died.

We never went.

Now I live in Colorado. I bought a Cooper rifle in .204 Ruger. The magic pixie dust sprinklers at Cooper bestowed my rifle with 1/3M MOA groups with factory ammunition. It shoots like a Harry Potter wand. Magic. On weekends, when my wife doesn’t like me, I drive to the Pawnee grasslands for prairie dogs and nothing less than three hundred yards is sporting.

And my dad goes with me. And we talk.