This afternoon, I got to visit my sister and her husband on their farm.
We may be in the boonies, but they are even more in the boonies than we are! 😀
Before I left their place, we did a tour of their yard and garden, and I really appreciated being able to see how theirs is doing, in this heat.
Her row of rhubarb was a study in extremes. In the middle, she had these MASSIVE leaves and stalks – which is normal for her rhubarb – but in other areas, they were smaller and wimpy, like ours, and at one end of the row, they were basically dead. So strange!
Where I’m standing to take this photo used to be part of their garden, but they reduced its size. That area is now full of self-seeded dill. This end of the garden is where they have their annuals, with some rows already cleared and tilled. At the far end are their perennials, including onions (different from the ones they have in the rows visible at the annual end), horseradish, asparagus, sorrel, mint, and a few other things. They’ve got determinate tomatoes, and I could see some very large ones developing. No peas or corn, but they do have beans, beats and potatoes, among other things.
They usually water their garden from the nearby creek. In this photo, you can see a platform on the shore, and the end of the hose is between the two sticks in the water, with a float. This is where they pump the water from.
The creek is about 3 feet lower than usual this year, and it’s got to the point that they are watering using their well water. They only water every couple of days, though, unlike the nightly watering we are having to do. It has actually been lower than this, in the past.
After all those years… LOL
When my brother in law retired from farming (like where we are, most of the land is rented out), he took over much of the gardening. The first time a deer got into their garden, he put up the fence.
Deer are not the only issue they have. They also have to deal with black bears, raccoons and…
Yup. They have woodchucks, too. This den is under the deck of a now-empty house they share a yard with. There are dens in other areas, too. Apparently, their woodchucks have plenty of other food to eat besides their garden, because their deer fence is just touching the ground at the bottom, not buried, and they’re not trying to get it.
Which is as good a segue as any as to why I visited them today. My brother in law finally had time to help sight the scope on my crossbow.
Now, this is something we could have done ourselves, except we don’t have anything to accurately measure longer distances. My BIL is an avid hunter and has a range finder, so we figured we’d go to him and get it done right.
He never even used it. He just paced off the distance, just as he would have in sighting the scopes on his rifles! 😀
Now, he had plenty of experience with rifle scopes, but he’d never worked with a crossbow before, so the first thing he did was spend time reading the instruction manual (I brought everything! LOL). We had only finger tightened the scope, so after he checked it a few times and confirmed that it was the right distance for me, he tightened that down, and then we went to his target bale.
The instructions said to start at 10 yards, which is about where the corner of that fence is, then moving to 20 yards to fine tune the scope. He is sitting at 20 yards in the photo, which is what we need the scope to be sighted to.
Also, do you see that white blob on the creek in the background?
That is a flock of pelicans. 😀
He was expecting it to take only about half an hour to sight the scope, but we ended up out there, in the heat, for probably more than an hour before we stopped.
He did the final shots at about 30 yards, before we called it for the day.
The bolt here is the first shot done at 30 years. He was aiming for the target on the left.
If you look at the top right, there is a single hole. That was the first shot at 10 years, before he started adjusting the scope.
Above and to the right of the centre target are a series of holes. He hit the exact same spot a couple of times. The instruction manual described how many clicks equaled 1 inch at 20 yards and, according to that, with the number of adjustments he made, it should have been hitting to the left of the centre target! After hitting the same spot a couple of times, the bolt ended up so far into the target, the fletchings were squeezed into the hole, too. One of them ended up coming loose. It just needs a bit of fletching glue to fix and it’ll be fine, but that’s when he started to aim at the other target.
By the time he was done, he could get a good grouping at 30 yards, but it was still hitting to the right of the target. He’d adjusted it so far, he wasn’t sure it could go any further. The scope we have is different from any of his. In fact, it had a whole extra knob to adjust, but not even the scope’s instruction sheet (which was for rifles, not crossbows) had it labelled on their diagram.
So the crossbow is not sighted, but it is closer, and we are in a position that we can figure the rest out ourselves. Of course my husband, with his military background and marksman qualifications, knows how to do it. The main issue was measuring distance. Which my BIL just paced off, anyhow.
I think we can manage more accuracy than that, with what we have! 😀
Adjusting the scope was not the only thing that was a problem. The other was cocking it in the first place. The kit came with a rope cocker. There is a rock cocking groove at the end of the stock, just before it can be adjusted to size. The middle of the rope goes in the groove, two hooks with pulleys hook onto the string, from under the stock, and there are a pair of handles to pull on. At just shy of 6′ tall, he actually had trouble cocking it, once he straightened up past a certain point. He already had doubts that I could cock a bow with 220lb draw weight, but in the end, I’m basically too short. If he, at about 8 inches taller than me, was having a hard time, it’s pretty much assured that I don’t have the height and arm length to be able to raise the string high enough to latch in place!
He recommended we pick up a crank cocker.
Since we were never able to complete sighting the scope, I never fired the crossbow myself. That will just have to wait a bit longer.
In shooting the crossbow, he had a couple of issues with it. Obviously, the scope itself was one. I know that a lot of people who buy kits will replace the kit scope with a higher quality one right away. This wasn’t a matter of quality of materials, but adjustment. He also didn’t like the trigger, which was something else I saw some reviewers complaining about. It does, however, shoot well and shoot true. Once the scope is properly sighted, we should have no issues with it. I’ve seen reviewers complain about the adjustable stock, but he had no issues with that.
He also really didn’t like the rope cocker. He had mentioned to me that he had a friend who bought a crossbow and, the first time he tried to cock it, it slipped and he almost groined himself severely. He then immediately got rid of it. As my BIL was repeatedly cocking the bow, he said he could see just how easily that could happen. Eventually, I learned that when this person had tried to cock his bow, the stirrup slipped off his foot.
The instructions are EXTREMELY clear about how important foot placement in the cocking stirrup is. Which rather makes me wonder just how closely instructions were being followed. Mind you, this happened quite some time ago. The instructions may well include that now because people were hurting themselves by having just their toes in the stirrup, instead of having it under the middle of their foot.
There’s a reason the instruction manual has more safety warnings than pretty much anything else! This is not a toy.
So now we need to figure out where to set up a target practice area, mark out distances, and figure the rest out ourselves.
I did have some unexpected disappointments about the whole thing. While they are not being mean or malicious about it, it’s clear neither my BIL nor my sister are confident in me. Not just in being able to use and shoot the bow (yes, I have the physical strength pull 220lbs draw weight with the rope cocker), but they seemed to assume that this was some sort of spur of the moment thing I decided to do, without any sort of research or analysis, first. Like I was thinking of it as… well… some kinds of toy. The fact that I hope to actually use it to hunt is another area they clearly didn’t have confidence in me about, with both or them, at one point or another, making sure to mention that a deer will run off after being shot, and then it needs to be tracked. I knew that, of course. It happens even when hunting with a rifle. Why did they assume I would not know that? There were a few other… assumptions… made that had me wondering. I think part of it, for my BIL, was simply because he assumed that since he was having such a hard time with some things, I would have an even harder time, and not things where my height would make a difference. Was it because I am female, and they assume I’m weak? Or because I’m fat? Or because I’m the baby sister? I don’t know. It was off putting, even though I could tell they did not have any ill will behind their comments. More like their filter was off. 😀
Well, we shall see how things work out over time. First things first. We need to get that scope sighted properly, and then I have to practice. My husband will be able to cock the bow, no problem, and honestly, I think I might still be able to as well. Even if I can, we will be getting a silent crank. The rope cocker, it turns out, squeaks! 😀
My daughters, meanwhile, are pining for a compound bow.
I foresee a future Christmas gift…