Thursday, August 05, 2010

Loading with the XL650 ... sort of (Part 1)

I had expected to allow the Continuing Story of Dillon and The Geek lay fallow for a while, hoping that I could eventually segue directly into the good news that the XL650 had been completely repaired and rejuvenated by a Factory rebuild.

That is, I had hoped so until friend Antipoda piped up this weekend asking “…how did your match go? Did you make a respectable showing? Did you have enough ammo? Have you solved your primeing problems? Have you considered selling your 650 at the next gunshow, and buying a 550b?


Okay, I can’t afford to ignore the Compleat Contrarian.

Weekend before last, I stayed up until midnight trying to load enough ammo for the match. It took me roughly four hours to load 176 rounds of ammunition (some of which were later rejected when I examined them for flaws). I should have quit earlier, but sheer stubborn determination encouraged me to preserver when a more realistic man would have just borrowed ammunition from a friend.

The new parts for the XL650 did not solve the problem. If anything, it was worse. The primer disk wouldn't advance, because the primer arm didn't retreat to pick up the next hole in the primer disc and rotate it so the next primer was in place. I had to manually move the primer arm up and allow it to grab the next primer disk hole. I loaded about 100 rounds that way, and decided that if this wasn't enough ammunition to complete the match, I would just stop when I ran out of ammunition.

Then I spent another hour getting my gear together. It had been 9 months since I used the Open gun in competition, and I had to switch magazines, etc. I was sure it wouldn’t get done if I left it to the morning. In the end, I couldn’t find the extension which allowed me to use the same race holster for both a limited and an open gun (longer because of the compensator), so I decided to fake it.

Fortunately I had cleaned the gun thoroughly last time I used it, but I grabbed a bottle of solvent and ran a wet rag thru the barrel anyway. No spider nests, clean rag, good to go. Ran an oily rag thru the barrel, checked the sights (yep, battery still good) and put it all back in the gunrug, and that into the range bag with my 176 (+/-) loaded rounds.

I got to bed around 1 a.m. and then couldn’t get to sleep until around 4:30 a.m. which made me very groggy when the alarm went off at 7:30.


Quick shower to wake up, threw on jeans, shoes and the match shirt from the 1999 Limited Nationals at Las Vegas. My first National shirt, maybe it will bring me luck. I can use all I can get.

Stopped at Burger King for a breakfast sandwich, milk, stinky/greasy potatoes.

Then stopped at Dutch Bros for some hot coffee. I have to stay awake!

I ate the greasy/stinky potatoes on the drive up, drank a bit of milk, and ALL of the coffee!

When I go tot the match, it had already started. It's haying season in Oregon, and combines were moving from one field to the next over the country road on which I was traveling. Traffic gets backed up for miles behind combines which travel at 20 mph, tops. So it took me an hour and a half to make the drive which usually takes an hour.

It's worth mentioning that the range was entirely unfamiliar to me. CVSC (the Dundee range) had learned at the beginning of the summer that their neighbor, a grape vinyard, was expanding its growing acreage. The range would no longer be able to shoot to the West because that's where people would be working. It's a tall berm, but not definitively safe when people may be working the vines on any given day.

CVSC has spend between $40,000 and $50,000 according to Evil Bill to re-contour the land on the range, pointing the down-range configuration on the most uphill 4 bays to point South, rather than West.

Right now the bays are gravel-topped with a lot of very tall berms. No way of knowing now how well it work when the rainy season comes; I wouldn't be at all surprised to find that the water runs downhill and fills Bay 4. But for now, it all works fine.

My first stage was in Bay 4, which is about 20 yards wide and deep. (Measures are a guess, so don't take this as gospel.) I found The Hobo Brasser there, and shot the first stage which includes a 6-target plate rack and four US poppers. I had trouble knocking the small targets down. Hobo Brasser made fun of me, saying "you're suppose the put the red dot on the steel and squeeze the trigger!" He thought I had forgotten how to shoot an open gun. Not true; I had forgotten that I should not drink coffee before a match, because that red dot was bouncing all over the target ... on and off, and my job was to figure when it was going to dance over the steel and time that with my trigger so I hit the steel. No, I didn't do really good on tight shots, but I was doing the C-More Shuffle for most of the day.

It was a well-designed, and balanced match, but by the time we got to the 3rd stage I was feeling the effects of the heat and the sun. I worked as RO for the first 5 shooters on that stage, but then I had to hand off the 'brick' (the timer) and let someone else RO. I was feeling faintly nauseous, and that's the first indicator of Heat Exhaustion. (Heat Stroke is something else, often hits without obvious warning signs, and is a killer.)

When we got to the last stage, we gained the benefit of being the smallest squad in the match, with 8 shooters. Everyone had to work, but we got though stages quickly. Having arrived late, I was the last in my squad to shoot the first stage. But I was the first shooter on the last stage, so I may have been the first shooter to complete the match.

I didn't impress anyone, but by virtue of my late start and early finish I probably spent less time actively competing of all the nearly 60 shooters.

The Hobo Brasser and I had planned to have Lingquica pizza at Abbey's Pizza in Newberg, so we were eager to get off the range. But HB was responsible for posting scores on the internet, so we waited for over an hour for the other squads to finish.

Finally I grew tired of waiting, so I hopped into my truck and went down to where the last two squads were trying to finish the match. One squad had 2 shooters to go, the others had 4 shooters. I grabbed their completed score sheets and ran them up to the make-shift stat's shack. so the StatsMistress could enter them into the computer.

Then HB and I bailed out. Evil Bill agreed to email him the final scores for publication. I didn't care, I was tired and dirty and hungry (although happy!) and I just wanted to get my lunch.

As far as I was concerned, the gun had run reliably and well, I had completed the match, and I actually had a full magazine left over. Darn, if I knew I would end up with that much ammunition left over, I could have got to bed an hour earlier last night!

(Completed below under "Loading with the XL650 ... sort of (Part 2)" below.)

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