I've been reading other bloggers' shooting-related New Year resolutions with interest. Many have resolved to buy more ammunition, or save up for a 'grail gun' they've been dreaming about for years. My firearms-related resolutions fall into different categories.
- I'm going to try to get to the range at least once per week. I may not be able to manage that, due to pressure of time and circumstances, so I'll express it another way: I want to shoot at least 100 handgun rounds per week this year, for an annual total of at least 5,200 rounds. If I can't get to the range every week, I'll up the round count in subsequent weeks to hit the annual target.
- I'm going to concentrate first on accuracy. This means at least half my handgun practice is going to be 'old-fashioned' bullseye shooting for the next three to six months. I'm going to be working on regaining the accuracy I used to have prior to my disabling injury ten years ago. I'm not bad, even today, but I want to get back to the days when I could chew a single ragged 2"-3" hole in the target at 25 yards using one hand only. By the end of 2015 I want to be able to do that on demand with any of my handguns. I'll also practice rapid-fire defensive shooting more often.
- I'm then going to try to develop greater speed in drawing and shooting a defensive handgun. I'll never be as fast as I was before my injury (I won the class 'shoot-offs' for speed and accuracy in two advanced courses in 2002), but I'd like to improve my present performance. This is going to be tricky, because my speed of movement and sense of balance are nowhere near as good as they once were. I'll have to pace myself carefully, determine what's safe for me, and work out new methods for achieving acceptable results. I'll work on accuracy first while I experiment with drawing and unloaded weapon and dry-fire techniques, then try to apply them on the range.
- I'm slowly but surely winding down my activities in training disabled and handicapped shooters. This is partly because I'm getting older and slower; partly because the economic situation makes it difficult to afford such activities; and partly because the pressures of writing to earn a living make it hard to devote enough time to training. Fortunately, several other people have stepped up to the plate and are assuming a lot of the burden, which is a big help. This also means I'll no longer need to keep multiple guns of different types in my 'training battery'. I'll give some to my disabled and handicapped students and fellow instructors, and sell the rest. That'll free up funds for other needs - see Section 3 below.
- In rifles, I'm simplifying down to four cartridges: .22LR for training, plinking and small game, 5.56x45mm NATO/.223 Remington for defensive rifles and carbines, .30-30 Winchester for medium-sized game, and 7.62x51mm NATO/.308 Winchester for occasional use in military rifles (more for nostalgia than anything else). My injured spine can't tolerate heavy recoil, so those will serve my needs without being too painful to shoot. I'm selling my rifles in other calibers.
- Shotguns are a problem due to their relatively heavy recoil. My spine starts to object after only a few rounds. I like them, and think they have great defensive and general-purpose utility, but I've got to be realistic: they're not very practical for me any longer. I'll keep one or two, but there are half a dozen that can be 'let go', along with my ammo stash for them. (For example, I've got an entire case [250 rounds] of Brenneke rifled slugs I'll never shoot.)
- As a general rule (with occasional exceptions allowed), any new firearms I buy must be of the same models as those I already have. I really don't need to be adding magazines, holsters and other accessories for new types at this stage of my life (not to mention the expense!). Let's face it, there's no need to try the latest 'tacticool' plastic fantastic firearm every time one comes out. Marketing hype aside, they're unlikely to be any more effective than those I already own.
- Over the past month I've been going through all my magazines, checking the condition of springs, followers and base plates. Some had deteriorated to the point of being no longer trustworthy. I've spent money on new springs, followers, etc. to refurbish my collection, to the point that I now regard them as fully functional and trustworthy. I'm annoyed with myself for neglecting this basic maintenance over the past couple of years, as I've gotten more into writing for a living. I'll have to make it an annual event, and diarize it to make sure it gets done.
- As I grow older, my eyesight is deteriorating - nothing desperately serious, but I find I can't see 'normal' handgun front sights very well any more. I'm experimenting with different sight systems to find what works best for me. Once I've established that, I'll install it on all my defensive handguns so as to have a standardized setup. That'll be a bit expensive 'up front', as new sights can easily cost $100 or more per gun; but by selling off hardware I don't need, as discussed above, I'll be able to afford it over time.
- I've got a lot of accessories I either don't need, or won't need any longer as I cut back on the number and type of guns in my collection. They include holsters, scope mounts and bases, gun cases, and so on. I'll give away a lot to those who need them, and sell the rest. On the other hand, I'll be replacing much of my firearm cleaning gear, which has been in service for so long it's just about worn out. Let's hear it for new bronze bore brushes!
- I'm going to cut back my ammunition reserves in the light of fewer calibers in my gun safe. That'll free up both money and space. However, one should have adequate ammo reserves to cope with an unexpected 'drought' such as we saw a few years ago, or even official restrictions on supply (as hinted at by measures such as New York state's SAFE act). I'm going to keep several thousand rounds of my primary handgun and rifle calibers on hand.
Those are my firearm-related plans and resolutions for the New Year. What are yours?