Wednesday, December 31, 2014



I just learned a valuable lesson about the Gem Pro 250 electronic scale I purchased a while back. After initial setup and calibration I found the scale to be very accurate and consistent and it sped up the process of loading good long range 308 ammo substantially. I spent a few hours at the loading bench in the first few weeks and I was very pleased with my new scale.

Fast forward to a week ago when I needed to decompress and retired to the loading/gun room to work on a fun project, (200 grain cast bullets going slower than the speed of sound in the little Lee Enfield my Grandfather carried for many years). In
the process of making up some ammo I neglected to calibrate or check the scale, (it had always weighed the same 155 grain Sierra at 155.24 grns). I carefully weighed 20 charges of IMR 4198 and proceeded to load and later shoot the ammo. I was pleased with the results but the speed is still little high. Last night I decided to load that load in the rest of my new cases. After charging the cases with powder I was seating bullets when I set one on the scale to check the weight. Imagine my concern when the bullet only weighed 178 grns, my first reaction was to blame the bullet manufacturer and I was actually about to post my finding on Facebook! I'm some glad I didn't and decided to weigh my 155 Sierra which showed 123 grns. After several attempts to calibrate, I found and reread the procedure and magically the Sierra weighed 155.29 and the 200 cast bullets are around 210. All is well again and I will calibrate before using every time, (just like it says to do).

The new year is nearly on us and as this one comes to a close, I've been thinking about a few of the mistakes I've made. They are all mine and I take full ownership of the decisions involved. They range in seriousness from minor, (a good chuckle), to very serious and potentially life threatening.  

We all make mistakes and how we deal with them has a lot to do with our upbringing and our life experiences. I've learned that I'm not perfect, but my wife is mentoring me and is adamant that I can improve if I work at it  :-). As we humans are a cooperative species of mammals we must accept and acknowledge our own mistakes as well as the mistakes of others. We must help each other to learn from our mistakes and move on to a more productive future. People that are able to learn from their mistakes help our community and those who refuse to accept responsibility for their actions really can hold us all back. You know the type, it's always someone else who is responsible. All I know is that stubborn people don't, won't or can't learn from their mistakes or the mistakes of others and they draw much energy out of our community. One of my frequently repeated mistakes involves talking when I should be listening. Despite my best efforts, I still find myself repeating this behaviour and it frustrates those who are trying to make their point and work with me. I understand the value of curbing this tendency and will continue to work on it this year.

A Stainless 308 barrel that somewhat resembles our shooting community!

The picture above represents an expensive and potentially dangerous mistake. It would be easy for me to blame it on any of the factors and people that contributed to my careless action. I hope it's the dumbest thing I ever do with a rifle  :-). 

A few years ago I got back into target rifle shooting and bought a used target rifle from Hirsch Precision, (thanks Peter). One nice day in the fall I took the rifle to the range for some load testing off the bench. I took several rifles and my Dad with me that day hoping to do some zeroing and testing. I was using a laser boresighter to set up the chronograph as I wanted to read the velocity while shooting groups. I was having a bit of trouble finding the sweet spot for the crony and had just made an adjustment when It was Dad's turn to fire his rifle which he was having trouble zeroing. At that time a carload of other shooters arrived and I talked with them about where they wanted to shoot. They went over to shoot at the 50 yard range and I sat down behind my rifle, removed the bolt flag, loaded and fired a great shot. I thought the recoil was a bit unusual and the vibration was different than anything I had felt before. I soon remembered that I hadn't removed the boresighter from the barrel! The discovery that I could be so easily distracted really turned out to be a cheap lesson that I thank God for. No one was hurt and the new barrel shoots very well. I've been blessed with many good lessons in my life and I'm the first to admit it. In case you're wondering - I never did find the boresighter :-(. 

Another mistake I'll own up to, is engaging in heated argument. I've fallen into this trap more times than I care to remember and every time I have been able to convince the other person how unreasonable, uncooperative and stubborn a SO AND SO I can turn into. This approach does not work and in fact often complicates the resolution. (It's a lot like shooting yourself in the foot). I strongly encourage passionate discussion but personality conflict, threats or insults have no place in our community and are mistakes that we must first recognize before we can find acceptance and then work together for common goals. I'm going to listen more and talk less in 2015. What will you do?

Good Shooting
Michael Lutes

PS: I know there are more shooting bums among us and you are welcome to contribute if you would like to ramble about any issue in our shooting community. I'm also looking for good news shooting sport stories. 

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