Berm Notice

September 26th, 2017

Get the Hell Out of my Yard…SERIOUSLY

I still have a lot of things to do, to get caught up on the move and the hurricane. I don’t care. Today I decided I was going to do something I had been wanting to do for a long time. I decided to shoot on my own property.

First thing I needed to do…choose a weapon. I have a number of long guns lying around, but until today, I had not unpacked the pistols. I had sent them to Ocala in one of our many moving boxes. I didn’t label it “Expensive Firearms.” I simply put them in box number 88. I didn’t see any point in tempting the movers.

Incidentally, Atlas Van Lines has a strict policy when it comes to shipping firearms. They say they have to fill out a lot of paperwork in order to do it, so if you don’t warn them in advance, they leave your guns on the floor of your old house. Do they really have to do paperwork? No idea. All I know is that they refused to take my rifles, and I had to do it myself. They had already packed my pistols, which, as noted above, I had not labeled.

They won’t carry ammunition, either, which is just stupid. Ammunition is very stable. It’s extremely hard to make it blow up or go off. By the time your household goods are in a situation which could cause bullets in boxes to go off, all is pretty much lost. By that time, the truck is in flames and the fire people have cordoned it off.

I went looking for box 88. I had stored it cleverly among other unassuming boxes with innocent-looking numbers on them. Problem: when I went to the big storage room to look for it, it wasn’t there.

You can imagine how I felt. I tore the house up. I searched the storage room at least three times. I searched all the closets. I searched the workshop. I prayed. I was very upset.

The thing that amazed me was that it wasn’t in the storage room. I had seen it there. Where else could it possibly be? Only two companies have had workers in the house since we moved, and I didn’t think they’d be stupid enough to steal. If the guns were gone, it meant some genius had seen through the random numbering strategy and chosen exactly the right box, out of dozens. Without opening the others.

The other possible explanation was that I had hidden the box in a safe place only I could find, and that I had forgotten where that place was.

I got very discouraged. I pictured my guns in the hands of a grimy air conditioner repairman. The air conditioning people spent more time here than anyone.

I went back to the storage room for a last try. I stood there thinking how amazing it was that the box wasn’t there. Then I saw it. On top of two other boxes. In plain sight. Exactly where I left it.

Explain that to me. I can’t figure out what happened. I looked right at it, over and over, and I didn’t see it. Then it mysteriously became visible.


I didn’t seem to have a whole lot of .45 ammo ready, and for some reason, I had tons of .38 Super, so .38 Super is what I chose to shoot.

The realtor who sold us this house decided to leave her big, annoying signs here forever. One attracted a moron in some kind of vehicle, and he ran over it and destroyed it, leaving problematic ruts in our swale. I took the remains of that sign to the dump. It had already attracted an aggressive realtor who rubbed me the wrong way, so I was glad it was gone. I took her second sign and laid it on the ground, and I sent a message to her firm via the Internet, telling them to come and get it.

They never responded, so today I took the sign out of the frame, and I set the frame up on my shooting berm. I taped a Caldwell target to it, and I was in business.

Here’s a photo. This is my first 300 rounds. I wish. That’s 5 rounds. I ended up shooting 35, I think, and I had three fliers that opened the hole up pretty badly. I did okay, though, and I learned, which is what matters.

Here’s one thing I learned: it’s impossible to police your brass in a pasture. I recovered about 4 expensive Starline shells. The rest are now part of the archaeological record. I don’t know what to do. Maybe I should just Roundup a small area to kill the grass that hides brass.

I quit shooting because shooting is expensive when you lose brass.

I wanted to shoot my .17 HMR, but that requires a table, chair, and God knows what else, and after losing all that time searching for box 88, I was in a hurry to get out there.

I think I should build a little shed type of thing for shooting, so I’ll have shade and a place to put my beer. I could fix it so it contains spent shells and saves me money.

How do you measure off long distances for shooting? I don’t think anyone makes a 200-yard tape measure. I want to be able to shoot at 100, 150, and 200 yards. The shorter distances are for .17 HMR. It’s a very cheap caliber for people who want to improve their technique.

It’s so nice, not having to deal with range officers and dangerous inexperienced shooters who literally shoot the inside of the range canopy. It’s nice not having to pay ten bucks or sit through a safety class. It’s also nice not to have to deal with the annoying camo and tactical crowd. People who think the world of themselves but shoot like little girls. When you see a cop in tactical pants at the range, get ready to duck. A pound of hair gel and 37 velcro pockets do not a marksman make.

I don’t think the neighbors had any idea I was shooting. They can’t see into the pasture unless they happen to be passing by the west end. I would be very surprised if they cared. We actually looked at one neighbor’s house before we bought this one, and he had an ammunition press set up in his garage.

There is an old deer stand in the pasture. Proof I’m not the first person to shoot out there.

I guess I’ll start moving trees again tomorrow.

11 Responses to “Berm Notice”

  1. JPatterson Says:

    Ask and it shall be given to you:

  2. MikeC Says:

    That’s great Steve. When I first moved back to Florida, I had the same idea. I used to shoot 3 times per week in Northern Va. and I couldn’t wait to be able to just walk outside and shoot to my hearts content. The first 10 years I was here I probably shot 5 times. But now my kids are older and I started shooting again. It’s very liberating to have your own berm setup and be able to blast away. I too am a reloader, I have a tarp that I set out to my right to catch most of my brass. It’s a pain in the butt, but I usually am able to recover everything. I know it’s either on the tarp or real close to it. If I don’t find it that day, I know I’ll find it the next time.

    As far as measuring, I pace off a known distance, maybe 60-70 feet. I count the steps and repeat until my pace is consistent, get the feeling for the meter and rhyme of it, and then I expand it out. So maybe I’m shooting from 147 or 153 yards, it’s close enough.

    I’m very happy for you. I have been a reader since the Hog On Ice days and I have multiple copies of your book (Eat what you want and die like a Man) I went to Lake Weir High in Marion county so I have a bit of pride when people find happiness there.


  3. Cliff Says:

    Mark off 25 ft intervals with stakes using a tape measure. Later you can tie orange tape on them to play with windage.

    Alternatively get 100ft of string and measure it out with a tape measure and mark every 25 ft. It’s a handy tool. I have a 250 ft one in my bag of shooting junk. Handy to mark distances from hunting stands.


  4. Monty James Says:

    If you try pacing off the range, you’ll probably get close enough. If I remember correctly, the average human stride is around 30 inches. If you want to get really precise, there are laser rangefinders for golfers available for one or two hundred dollars.

    That sign frame looks perfect for shooting practice. Does the wind blow very much in the field, and rustle the target?

  5. Og Says:

    Brass magnet. It’s expensive, but worth it. You use tent stakes to spread it out, and when your done, it has collected your brass.

    Also, Keeson Measuring wheel.

  6. Terrapod Says:

    Sheesh, brass magnet, really. Go get 4 painters light canvas or cotton dropcloths, spread them out and shoot away, then draw them back up by the corners. Total investment maybe 40 bucks plus some cheap wire stakes (bent coat hangers work fine)

    Heavier, but then who cares, roll them up and toss them into the back of the golf cart.

  7. Og Says:

    Yes, you can buy tarps. They work too. Brass magnet sets up and tears down in about a minute and fits in a bag the size of a lunch bag. You get what you pay for.

  8. Steve B Says:

    If you do decide to build a shed, make it your “range HQ”. Build a flat deck to the side where you put your shooting point. Couple of sheets of composite for decking with some 1×2 laid flat for edging to stop rollers, and you need never lose a shell again!

    Also, it looks like the terrain is fairly uneven, which can throw off your measuring wheel quite a bit over long distances. If you want true straight-line distance, instead of a roller use a laser range finder.

  9. Mike Says:

    “I think I should build a little shed type of thing for shooting, so I’ll have shade and a place to put my beer.”
    Helped a good friend build a range shelter. He found some rubber matting like they use on shop floors for under the cover and just cuts the grass as short as possible around it. Keeps the sun off and makes shooting in light rain almost pleasant. He bolted an aluminum truck box to posts for target and rifle rest storage.
    I lost my home range to the devil possessed #2 wife, I miss the range but not the devil.

  10. Ken Says:

    Go with the shed; I have a 12′ aluminum box that used to be a refrigerator on a truck. It contains the noise to an extent, aluminum floor so I can collect my brass, shade and rain cover. Just roll up the back door and start wailing.

    I’m curious why you didn’t take the pistols and ammo when you moved the rifles? Seems like the perfect time; all the gun stuff at one time, while you have complete control over it.

    This is a popular topic on gun forums, answer is ALWAYS put the guns in your personal vehicle and bring them into your motel room at night. Don’t trust the moving monkeys to get much of anything right.

  11. Steve H. Says:

    I intended to ship ALL the guns with the movers, and my rationale was that I had a no-deductible policy covering everything they moved. In hindsight, that was a little naive.

    The rifles were separate because they wouldn’t fit in boxes!