To paraphrase Mr. Shakespeare, it had been the winter of my discontent. Don’t get me wrong, I like winter. In fact, I’m one of the first to complain when these weak, mild winters come along, lacking the good decency to put down any legitimate snow or in any way act like a proper winter should. I am a big fan of the four seasons, all in balance. Now that said, there are limits. Remember I mentioned balance? Well, this winter started out perfect. We even got snow during deer season, which is a special treat here in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia. But then it didn’t know when to quit. I just got tired of being cold, which for that to happen to me means it stayed really cold for really long. The early spring ventures I like to take to our lot up in the mountains to, you know, shake off the cabin fever had to keep being put off. So the fever turned into a full on epidemic.
It got so bad, I basically became this guy:
Good grief, if my boots could talk, they’d basically be saying “You wuss. Get your butt outside. To the woods!” And then, at the moment of truth, spring sprung. And while I had about 687 different ideas for things I wanted to do, one easily vaulted to the top of the list. You see, some 5 months ago, I had purchased a new gun and, to my utter embarrassment, still had not taken it out of the box. I mean, “somebody get this guy to the range!”
“Oh man. This thing shoots sweet!” so said my son. Indeed, it was a great first impression for the most recent addition to our shooting arsenal.
When the thought first came to mind that our family could get some great fun and value out of a pistol in .22lr, I immediately started looking into one of the many fine quality and reasonably priced semi-autos out there. The reviews and images were tantalizing, and it seemed just a matter of picking the one that I liked best among a strong group of options. And then I decided to take a peek at what may be out there in the revolver market. Oh. Darn. I managed to come across the Ruger Bearcat…..and there was no going back. I mean, just look at it.
Well, there could have been some backpedalling on the newfound apple of my eye. Compared to the aforementioned semis, there was some sticker shock to the little revolver. Enough so that I started to run scenarios through my mind about how I would ‘sell’ the idea of this purchase to my wife. After all, it did happen to be Christmas time, and I had been so good, too. In the midst of this speculation, I made a visit to one of my local gun stores, and I think the good Lord intervened. There in the gun case was a used Bearcat. It was not only in excellent condition, but it had belonged to the owner’s father, and he proceeded to tell me all about its history and why he was selling it (basically just wanted one of the Ruger revolvers that came with both the .22lr and .22wmr cylinders). An interesting anecdote he mentioned was that his dad had done a fair bit of dry firing of the gun not long after he got it, and he found that ‘pinged’ the cylinder. He indicated that he sent it back to Ruger, and they refurbished it. I was kind of intrigued about that because, later when I was reading the Owner’s Manual, it stated that it was safe to dry fire the gun. I decided that I simply would not take the chance and skip any dry firing. Another tip he provided was to not lower the hammer down directly from the half-cock position, but instead make sure to pull it all the way back to full cock, and then it could be safely lowered down by hand. He indicated this was because there was an increased likelihood of causing the gun to get ‘out of time’, which basically involves the timing of the cylinder rotation with the hammer fall. The clincher to all of this was the price, which managed to get down to a much more feasible number that wouldn’t make my wife turn into the Grinch. Sold.
So back to my son’s enthusiasm. I had hoped the little wheelgun would be fairly accurate, but I was surprised how well it did. This day was more about shooting just for the sake of it, and while we didn’t take the time to do serious bench testing, we did some extensive off hand shooting at ranges from 10 to 35 yards. It just kept hitting inside of a 4 inch circle at 10 yards, and a small pie plate at 35 yards. Really we were just getting used to the sights and the feel of the trigger, and having fun with plinking. We waged war on some little balloons at 30 yards, along with our swinging iron disc targets, which we relished the repeated pings.
Among the things I had envisioned as a benefit to having a .22lr handgun was that I wanted my daughter to experience the fun of shooting a handgun. She has limited hand strength, and I didn’t feel like she could safely shoot any of my other guns. I got the opportunity to teach her shooting stances, how to get a good sight picture, and the light squeeze needed for a single action trigger. The little gun fit her small hands beautifully. She really enjoyed the process, and her accuracy was splendid. Mission accomplished.
We do our shooting on a makeshift range on the property we lease to hunt, but we also have a lot nearby that borders that George Washington National Forest. It was on the lot that we camped for the night. The next day, my son asked to do a little more shooting with the Bearcat. As I sat by the campfire listen to him firing away up in the woods, my smile was hard to shake. The early returns on the new gun purchase had been even more than hoped for, and the returns on this trip to the great outdoors had been resplendent. The long winter vale had been rolled back, and the soul refreshed with a weekend to remember.