The Making of a Handgunner


The steel swinger the boy used for practice.

The boy had fallen in with a sordid crowd, consisting of throwbacks in every sense of the word. Handgunners all, some shot long guns as well. But it was the six gun that captured the boy’s attention most. The group introduced him to the greats from the past consisting of Skeeter, Elmer and a host of others. Then came Larry Kelly. The boy wanted to be a handgun hunter, one of the most misunderstood and complicated hunters of all.

A Special Gift

The boy received a special gun from a mentor. Another mentor worked it over, making the six-shooter slick, smooth and accurate, indeed. Chambered in .44 Magnum, the three-screw Ruger Super Blackhawk became the boys chosen weapon. A magnificent holster followed for the boy’s new gun by yet another mentor.

The boy needed lots of ammo, for practice. Some donated cast bullets for his cause, but the boy knew he needed to learn to cast his own. For it was the unwritten rule of self-reliance. A special mold was given to him by yet another mentor, providing him with the ability to cast hollow point bullets. He also learned to powder coat his bullets, for he had several mentors indeed, and learned sizing his bullets to .432” gave the best accuracy from his special gun.

Over time, the boy used a smaller target, replicating the size of the vitals of his pursued beast.

The Clang Of Steel

The boy settled on a load shared from a mentor consisting of 10 grains of Unique with the special MP Molds 503 Keith mold. Velocity would run just under 1,200 FPS from the 7.5-inch barrel of his special shooter. The boy practiced daily with his gun and handloads. He used a portable steel target for his training. He started close, maybe 15 yards distant.

After establishing grip, he’d cock the old thumb-buster with the thumb of his support hand, maintaining a consistent grip while doing so. Once sight alignment was established, the boy transitioned to sight picture, placing the top of the front sight smack dab in the middle of his steel swinger target. He’d take a deep breath, slowly exhale and start his trigger press.

The boy used the “Keith” position for his shooting sessions,
giving him a solid shooting position for field use.


With the explosion of gun powder contained in the brass case startled the boy, he knew he was doing it right. When the clanging of steel reached his ears, he knew things were perfect. If he could empty four cylinders worth of cartridges without missing the steel, he’d move the target back another five yards.

All summer and fall, he continued this routine after work. Eventually, his target was 55 yards away. He was now ready for a handgun hunt in Texas. The boy was never short of mentors, as everyone was fond of him. His unbridled enthusiasm is what his mentors loved the most. It reminded them when they were taught the same lessons and how they loved their own mentors.

Lessons shared in shooting, handloading, bullet casting and guns keeps the cycle alive. It’s the lifeblood for the existence of anything, keeping the cycle alive.

The boy and his beast, a free-range Texas aoudad.

The Hunt

The boy sat patiently in a ground blind made of limbs for days without making a so much as a peep. His perseverance paid off, as an old, unsuspecting Krampus looking creature entered a shooting lane less than 30 yards away. Slowly raising his special gun, the boy quietly cocked the hammer, once again establishing sight alignment, transitioning to sight picture, only this time, on the shoulder of a great shaggy beast.

This time, it was for real! It’s what he’d been practicing for all summer and fall. Letting his breath out, he started his trigger press. The explosion awakened the quiet, secret world hunters know, as the curved horned beast reared up on his hind legs on impact and took off. The boy’s body dumped what felt like gallons of adrenaline into his system, causing the shakes.

Giving the shaggy, horned beast sufficient time, the boy started his follow-up. The beast was dead, only traveling 80 yards. The boy had done well! His mentors are prouder of him than he’ll ever know, as they experience joy through his eyes. One day, the boy will be a mentor himself, keeping the cycle intact and the spirit of his mentors alive. This is how life should be.

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