A Good Day at the Range #3

As I've said elsewhere, my wife shoots - a lot better than I do. Which isn't too surprising; women are generally very good shots.

Amy has spent this month (July 2006) working her way through the NRA Handgun Qualifications. I've already written about her day shooting the Marksman-level qualifications.

That day we went to Wade's Guns in Bellevue because our regular range only allows shooting at 25 and 50 yards, and the handgun qualifications are at 15 and 25 feet. We also chose Wade's because we've shot there before and were familiar with them.

However, Wade's is rather far away for us to visit regularly, and rather pricey (they are in Bellevue, a rather upscale Seattle satellite city). Per several people's recommendations we decided to try out another range that's a good deal closer to us - and, after calling to find out pricing, we learned that it's a good deal less expensive as well. Our experiences there were positive (except for the hollywood-wind-machine ventilation blowing our stack of targets around), and we recommend you check them out if you are in Snohomish county. The range is Sam's Gun Shop in South Everett, near Paine Field.

We only had a few truly minor annoyances to deal with at Sam's: the aforementioned ventilation, with only two settings, HIGH and OFF, meant we had to pin our stack of targets down with ammo boxes or chase them down as they blew away. The target hangers are on rather bouncy wire cable; but if you can shoot bullseyes with your target bouncing around then you can feel that much better about your shooting skills. And on the last day she was shooting the guy in the lane next to us was a rather tall fellow, and his brass kept bouncing off the top of Amy's head; it would be nice if the lane baffles could be raised a little bit...

The qualification levels past Marksman call for a specific target, the NRA "D-1" or "Bianchi" target:
NRA D-1 target
This target's bullseye has rather generous dimensions (like a four-inch-diameter X ring), so again Amy didn't think qualifying would be too difficult.

Unfortunately we ran into two problems: first, nobody at any of our ranges actually carried the targets - we would have to order them. And second, they were flippin' HUGE: 20 inches by 35 inches! Why would we want to buy that much paper when Amy would only be using the little bit in the middle? What a waste! (I have a lot of pride in her ability...)

Plus we have a large-format color laser printer that I got Amy for her art, so we can print our own targets thankyouverymuch! I located a page that had the dimensions of the D-1 target, and Amy's NRA Pistol Instructor materials (did I mention she's also a certified instructor?) had the scoring information, so I cranked up my CAD software and made a NRA D-1 Bullseye target for 11x17 paper, with a red X-ring and some spots to note the shooter's data:

D-1 target thumbnail

The CAD source file is also available for you to modify to suit your needs. Please don't represent this target as being an official NRA target!

The Rest Of The Story, as Paul Harvey would say, is anticlimactic. Amy shot the hell out of the targets, completing the Marksman First Class, Sharpshooter and Expert qualifications in about a week (M1C one weekend, Sharpshooter the middle of the following week, and Expert the second weekend). Her worst score was 93/100.

Marksman 1st Class: 100/10x - 100/8x - 100/10x - 100/10x - 100/9x - 100/8x - 100/10x - 100/10x - 100/10x - 100/10x
Sharpshooter: 100/8x - 100/10x - 100/8x - 100/7x - 100/8x - 100/6x - 100/9x - 100/8x - 100/8x - 100/8x
Expert: Strong100/9x - 98/7x - 100/7x - 100/7x - 100/7x
Weak100/6x - 100/8x - 98/8x - 98/8x - 100/8x
Overall200/15x - 198/15x - 198/15x - 198/15x - 200/15x

Whew! (No, we're not going to scan all those targets in like we did for the Marksmanship page...) The 93 score is omitted because through a misunderstanding - mine - she shot twice as many Expert rounds as she needed to, so we threw her lowest ones out...

She's now champing at the bit to start on her Distinguished Expert qualification, but I'm suggesting she take it easy for a bit - that one is somewhat more involved than the other levels, in that you have to shoot at three targets for each stage. I also want to check with NRA about the acceptability of our targets. I don't think they'll be a problem for the levels she's already shot, but the requirements for the Distinguished Expert course of fire make me think we should probably stick to the official targets...

Update: I've contacted the NRA about this target and they said that it is acceptable for use in the handgun marksmanship program. You're welcome to download it and print it out for your own use - I recommend using card stock, as regular printer paper tends to shred and leave gaping holes that make the target hard to score.

I'll say it again, and keep saying it: I am so proud of her! {wipes tear}