First shot!

Today, my husband was finally up to heading outside to help me sight the crossbow. I found an excellent spot for a shooting range and got us set up.

The instructions said to sight at 10 yards, then micro adjust at 20 yards. I pre-measured the distance on some paracord, then used flags to mark where the target was placed, at 10 yards, then 20 yards. In the photo, we are set up at at 10 yards.

I did try to use the cocking cable myself, first, but even after my husband shortened the cable, I’m just too short! He had to do it for me.

Unfortunately, cocking the bow turned out to be very hard on him. To cock the bow, you lean over the bow, hook the cord up in the appropriate spots, grab the handles, pull and straighten up at the same time.

Which is really, really painful for someone with a lower back injury.

He did it a few times, took a few shots and adjusted the sight. When it comes time to micro adjust, we’ll have to take into account that he shoots left handed, and I shoot right handed. I quickly called it a day, though. I did not want him to injure his back even more.

I did, however, get one shot in, myself, before we packed up. Here is my first ever shot with the crossbow!

I was aiming for that centre target. The holes above, right, were my husband’s shots while adjusting the sight. The other holes were from when my brother in law was adjusting the sight at 20 yards.

The crossbow has an adjustable stock, and I didn’t noticed my husband had shortened it while cocking the bow, because it was digging into his abdomen uncomfortably, then didn’t return it to where it was. So when I fired, I was a bit too close to the sight. There’s just enough recoil that the sight smacked me in the glasses. Oops.

We definitely need to get a crank. Unfortunately, Cabelas, where I bought it, doesn’t seem to carry them anymore, and Killer Instinct, the manufacturer, doesn’t seem to make them anymore. The only one my husband has been able to find has been on eBay, and it’s pretty expensive.

I may have to just shorten the cord even more and try again. Even if I do get it to a length that works for me, I still want a crank. The crank is silent. The pulleys on the cocking cord squeak. If I’m going to be hunting, I need to be able to cock it silently!

We’ll figure it out.

The Re-Farmer

Not my garden, and sighting

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…

The Re-Farmer

Changes of plans

First, I wanted to share with you a photo of some visitors out our living room window last night.

There were actually five in total, but they were chasing each other around. The mama of the two in front chased the one you can see behind the cross, who chased another deer out of that spot before I got the picture. The fifth one that I saw making its way long the edge of the spruce grove disappeared before reaching the feeding station, and I missed what happened with that one.

The deer are definitely getting feistier as the weather warms!

It’s not quite warm enough, though!

I hadn’t received a call about the garden soil over the weekend, so I called them back this morning. The woman who answered seemed at a bit of a loss with how to help me, and ended up giving me the cell phone number for a particular person (since I want someone to come here in advance to see where the loads will be dumped), but there was no point in trying to call them until after 7pm, because they were in a cell phone dead zone. It ended up not being necessary. She called me back not long after.

Their pile of garden soil is too frozen.

She suggested I call back in about a month. Hopefully, it’ll be thawed enough for the equipment to be able load the truck! It would have been nice to get the soil well before we actually need it, but as long as we get it before we need to actually start planting, it should be fine.

I also called the garage to follow up on the van, and we’re now booked to bring it back tomorrow morning, so he can clean out that new EGR valve.

My husband got a requisition for blood work some time ago, but between the polar vortex, van issues (my mother’s little car is far too painful for him to ride in, and his walker wouldn’t fit in it, even folded up, anyhow) and pain levels, we just never made it in. I called the clinic to make sure the form was still at the reception, and that was confirmed. We had planned to go in today to get that done, but my husband’s pain levels were too high. We’ll try again on Wednesday.

On the positive side, my husband’s tax return came in. We had plans for part of it that I tried to take care of last night, only to discover we couldn’t use our debit Visa.

With no trip to the clinic today, I was open for making a trip to the city.

This is what we picked up.

Yup. We got a crossbow kit.

More specifically, we got a Killer Instinct Boss 405.

It’s an early 33rd anniversary gift. 😀

Now, what we really wanted to get was a rifle, but we have not been able to get our PALs yet, and with certain political activities going on right now, we were seeing our window of opportunity closing fast. However, having a gun on the farm is needed, if only to ward off the coyotes and other predators. Plus, I want to be able to hunt.

My husband and I both know guns (me from growing up on the farm, him from his time in the military), and bows. I used to shoot recurve, and my husband shot compound. We were both rather good at both guns and bows, too. However, with age and injuries, anything with a draw weight suitable for hunting is getting beyond our levels of mobility.

We decided that a crossbow would best meet our needs, while still being something we can actually get. Plus, the archery hunting season is much longer than rifle hunting season. As a bonus, a crossbow is quiet. I like quiet!

With that in mind, we did our research and decided on a crossbow at Cabela’s. It’s not high end, by any means, but it’s hardly bottom of the barrel, either. It will meet our needs.

Then, since I had to drive well over an hour to get to the store, I took advantage of the situation, asked questions, and picked up a few other things. (Happily, they accept medical mask exemptions, too!)

One of the things I’d tried to buy on the website was a crossbow rated target. I called ahead, and the crossbow and target were both waiting for me when I got there. After seeing it in person, I decided to get a larger target. I didn’t take pictures, but I ended up getting a Morrell Yellow Jacket YJ-425.

I also got these.

The crossbow kit comes with 3 bolts with field points. Bolts will get lost or damaged, so I picked up a 6 pack of extras. The spares do not come with points, so I picked up a 12 pack of field points. They are slightly heavier than the ones in the kit, so we won’t be using the kit points at all. I also picked up hunting points that need to be assembled, but they are the same weight as the field points. I also got a de-cocking bolt, which can be safely shot into the ground.

After taking this picture, I had to hide everything in a closet, because the cats were ALL OVER everything.

Susan tried to chew on the fletching of the de-cocking bolt.

Tomorrow, the bow will be assembled, but I don’t know when we’ll be able to test it out and start practicing. Not only is it very wet and messy right now, but we’ve got rain in the forecast tomorrow, and snow in the forecast a couple of days later!

And for those who are wondering, no, we don’t plan to hunt the deer that come to our yard.

Over the next while, I’ll be searching out local crossbow groups and hopefully be able to find a hunting mentor. I will still need to take the hunter’s safety course to get a hunting license, and while it would be nice to have a freezer full of venison next winter, I don’t expect to be ready to hunt this year. While all of us can practice shooting with this, it is likely that I will be the only one that will take the course and get a license to hunt.

At least, that’s the plan for now. Plans have a terrible habit of changing at the last minute, but it’s a goal we are shooting for.

No pun intended.

The Re-Farmer