On Target

Keep It Simple Series

For the average shooter, hunter or sportsman

By Johnny Dury


On Target: Proper Preparation Helps Make Every Shot Count


    While there are a select few hunters who favor and can properly handle a single shot rifle, it is highly recommended that making the first shot count should be everyone’s goal on the range or in the field.

    One shot and done is a worthy achievement that speaks highly of a shooter’s skill level whenever a rifle is being put into play.  However, that high level of performance requires a well-maintained shooting tool; proper preparation; and well-practiced shooting skills.

    Single-shot rifles are normally carried by a man or woman who appreciates the importance and challenge of placing an accurate shot at the right time and the right place.

   Although single-shot accuracy is often a matter of personal pride with today’s shooter, there was a time when the ability to hit a target with one shot could be a matter of life or death.

   The case of the second battle of Adobe Walls is a perfect example of how important one-shot accuracy can be to a shooter.

    According to the website www.oldwestlibrary.com:

     “At two in the morning on June 27, 1874, the ridgepole holding up the sod roof of the saloon broke with a loud crack. Everyone in the saloon and several other men from the town immediately set to repair the damage.

   “Thus, most of the inhabitants were already wide awake and up and about when, at dawn, a combined force of Comanche, Cheyenne and Kiowa warriors (estimated in excess of 700 strong and led by Comanche Chief Quanah Parker, son of a captured white woman, Cynthia Ann Parker) swept across the plains, intent on erasing the populace of Adobe Walls.

    “The initial attack almost carried the day; the Indians were in close enough to pound on the doors and windows of the buildings with their rifle butts. The fight was in such close quarters the hunters' long range rifles were useless. They were fighting with pistols and Henry and Winchester lever-action rifles in .44 rimfire. After the initial attack was repulsed, the hunters were able to keep the Indians at bay with their Sharps rifles.

     “The Indians rode out of range and camped in the distance while deciding how to handle the situation, effectively laying siege to Adobe Walls.

     “The second day after the initial attack, 15 warriors rode out on a bluff nearly a mile away to survey the situation. Some reports indicate they were taunting the Adobe Walls defenders but, at the distance involved, it seems unlikely.

    “At the behest of one of the hunters, William “Billy” Dixon, already renowned as a crack shot, took aim with a 'Big Fifty' Sharps (it was either a .50-70 or -90, probably the latter) he had borrowed . . . and cleanly dropped a warrior from atop his horse. This apparently so discouraged the Indians they decamped and gave up the fight.

     “Two weeks later, a team of U.S. Army surveyors, under the command of Nelson A. Miles, measured the distance of the shot: 1,538 yards, or nine-tenths of a mile. For the rest of his life, Billy Dixon never claimed the shot was anything other than a lucky one.”

    Today’s shooter who wants to be among the top marksmen at a hunting camp or shooting range has a variety of single-shot rifles to consider; in addition to fine-tuned bolt-action rifles that can also be up to the one-shot shooting test.

   Our gunsmiths at Dury’s Gun Shop have a well-earned reputation of providing experienced service to help fine-tune rifles so that they have the capability of becoming one-shot shooting tools.

   We can’t guarantee the an average hunter will be able to make any shots at 1,538 yards, but we have the knowledge and expertise to help a shooter shoulder the right tool to put that first bullet in the right place.  

Posted in: General, Reports From the Range and Field