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Ann's Corner

VOLUME 24-----------JUNE 2004



Another month has passed us by.  Seems like about the time I figure out which month we're in, that one's gone and I have to learn a new one!

Little Heifer has contracted for more improvement projects here at the Ranch.  Last month I reported about the retaining wall project, and with that now done, we are having asphalt put on the driveway below the wall.  While the Inland Asphalt Paving guys are here, I'm having them put a 30 x 40 foot pad at the South end of the new shop building.  Sure is easier to plow snow off asphalt than it is gravel.

Projects such as asphalt paving and rock retaining walls are expensive though.  Our heirs will almost certainly not have to worry about finding ways to spend their inheritance, 'cause we intend to spend it for them before we leave here!

I've embarked upon a new adventure, that promises to be very challenging as well as rewarding.  Should be fun too!  I'm in the process of trying to become certified by the Department of Fish and Wildlife, as a Hunter Education Instructor for Washington State.  Like most states, Washington requires younger hunters to complete an approved Hunter Education course before they can purchase a hunting license.  In our case it is anyone born after January 1, 1972.

The certification process includes a background check, passing a written test, student teaching with certified instructors, and completion of a two day, formal training session.  My next step is scheduling my training.  The next session is scheduled for June 4th and 5th in Yakima.  I'm awaiting word from the Eastern Washington Coordinator as to whether I can get into that one.  If not, the next opportunity will be mid July in Republic.

The Lead Instructor I'm working with for my student teaching is Mike Murphy.  Mike is a manager in the hunting department at the Sportsman's Warehouse (www.sportsmanswarehouse.com) at the Spokane Valley Mall.  The Sportsman's Warehouse provides space, free of charge, in their employee break room for a class of 25 students each month.  The classes run Monday through Friday from 5:00 to 8:00 PM, with a "live fire" session on Saturday morning.

The "live fire" session, in cooperation with the owners of the Sharpshooting Indoor Shooting Range (www.sharpshooting.net) is not a State requirement, but it is required to pass Mike's class.  Each student must safely load and fire 10 rounds of .22 rimfire and 2 rounds of shotshell ammo.  Even though the live fire session takes another half day out of everyone's busy schedule, I believe it's well worth the extra effort.  (Remember, this is all volunteer work and most everyone but me also works a full time job!)

Most of the students in these classes range in age from about 9 years to early teens, and some have never fired a gun before.  So, loading and firing under the watchful eye of an instructor is a good thing!

Mike and his crew, consisting of Todd, Ed, Bruce, Jacques, Chris, Michele, Robert, and others whose names I have not yet learned, have been very helpful and great to work with.  I've been through two classes with them so far and find it very informative and enjoyable.  Remains to be seen how long these guys are willing to put up with me!

Mike Murphy

Had a shooting session here at the Ranch a couple of weeks ago with the friend who has the new Savage varminter in .223 Rem.  The main purpose of the session was to chronograph some loads that Courtney worked up to see exactly how the velocities compare with the published data.  The test barrels for the data he is using were 24 inches and the Savage has a 26 inch barrel.  It appears the extra 2 inches of barrel is giving about 50 to 100 fps more velocity than the test data shows with equal charges of the same powder.

While this session was testing for velocity more than accuracy, it was apparent that the rifle wasn't shooting up to its theoretical potential.  Closer inspection of the loaded rounds revealed that many of the bullets were seated so crookedly that it could be seen with the naked eye!  Running a few rounds over my RCBS Casemaster gauge, showed some bullet runouts in excess of .020 inch!  No wonder accuracy wasn't up to par!  (I get concerned when my reloads start showing .005 inch bullet runout)

After much more testing and measuring, Courtney informed me later, that the sizing die he was using was pushing the case neck at least .008 inch off center, even without the expander button assembly installed!  If he pulled the expander button through the neck in the sizing operation, it was canting the necks even more!

I won't name the brand of crooked sizing die here, because its history is not clear.  It apparently came out of the estate of a person who used to work for the company that made the dies, and may have been a reject from the start.  Suffice it to say, when a new set of Redding dies (www.redding-reloading.com) was purchased, the problem disappeared.  I'll be watching this closely when serious accuracy testing begins.

This month's Hillbilly Wisdom comes from a saying my Mom used to recite to predict fishing success:

"When the wind's in the East, the fish bite the least"

"When the wind's in the West, the fish bite the best"

"When the wind's in the South, it blows the hook in the fish's mouth"

Since Mom never had a verse for a north wind, I would silently say this to complete the thought:

"When the wind's in the North, it's too dang cold to fish anyway"

Well, It's time to shut down here, So . . . .

'Til next time, Keep 'em shootin' straight, shoot 'em often, and above all, BE SAFE!!!!!

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