Then I shoot for accuracy. As a firm believer in and regular user of the Ransom Rest, I always try to do my accuracy evaluation with this remarkable device. That means maintaining a big library of the rubber-faced grip inserts that adapt the Rest to the various butt shapes of popular handguns. It takes more time to get a gun settled in the inserts and aligned with the target, but long experience speeds things up a good bit. In a short time, careful work with the Ransom Rest gives me a set of five-shot groups that are measured and averaged to develop the tabulation you see in American Rifleman. The result reports the accuracy potential of the gun to a strong mechanical certainty. If I can’t use the Ransom Rest because of a lack of proper inserts, I have no choice but to do it the hard way. That’s shooting by hand off the bench with sandbags under the butt and the front of the receiver braced on a rest. This kind of shooting is simply not as good as using a machine rest, but it is pretty close. It is vastly more time consuming, but there are no other options of which I am aware. As much as I can, I try to make the accuracy part of the program objective.
But no matter how objectively I look at the gun’s accuracy, this still doesn’t give you a good picture of the gun’s handling, which is the part of a shoot that I personally enjoy the most. This is when I bust dirt clods and roll tin cans, shoot smileys on paper and Mozambiques on cardboard. In short, the informal plinking and scenario shooting that the pistol or revolver is well-suited for, but seldom sees. With an auto, I try to remember to fire a few shots with a loose grip and a few with a limp wrist. How reliable is the pistol when it is mishandled? I pay attention to the sights, because they have so much to do with how the gun shoots. The pattern of ejection is important as is the location and function of the controls. All of these are subjective matters. All of this stuff is what I have been doing for many years, and I have had a great deal of fun, and learned a lot. When I get one of those eight-pistol survey articles, I have to do it eight times and that means I may have to break it into a pair of days at the range.