Monday, March 2, 2009

Range time.

I spend a certain amount of time at the range, like everyone here. Offworlders are often amazed by the number of short and long ranges here, and it's the rare neighborhood that doesn't have at least a short range. Most people have ten yard ranges in their yards. The sound of gunfire isn't common, though, because most people have supressors and noise cancelling equipment. And accidents are- well, on La-a people start shooting as soon as they can walk.

Which is not to say that people don't get shot. I have a bullet wound in my left shoulder, and I like it fine. I don't go out of my way to show it off, but I will roll up my sleeve if asked, and I buy shirts that can be rolled up easily.

A bullet wound- of a very specific type- is like a duelling scar here. To compete, you have to have an instructor certify you, and the instructor and you take turns shooting practically at one another. You stand directly next to his target, he to yours. At 100 yards, with a fine small caliber rifle using iron sights and cast lead bullets.

he can see your target, you can see his, but at these distances you have no idea how you're doing without a scope. To qualify you have to exceed a mimimum score, and then you can compete. If your instructor is confident you have exceeded HIS score, he has the option of taking a non-fatal shot at you. I shot a 100. Ten tens. With three in the X ring. He shot six tens, two fliers, and a nine. And he knew it. He picked out the fliers, and his last shot grazed my arm.

I shouldered my rifle, walked to the middle of the range,and shook his hand, the blood trickling down my upper arm. I grinned. The shot burned. I had him sign the wound and later had the sigiature tattooed in place.

People think with all the technology here we would use blasters and lasers and pulse weapons, but the truth is, so many geeks live here that there are about a thousand basement gunsmiths that make fine light arms in a tradition dead all over the universe.

I have tried my hand at pistol competition but I'm a duffer at my very best. My first love is rifle shooting, small caliber, single shot, cast bullets. An old world skill, useless except for the entertainment value.

Well,I'm entertained, anyway.

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