Range Emotion: A Day With Browning's Classic Pump Gun


Full disclosure: for the last few years, I've been sitting in cubicles at various insurance companies, talking about synergy with computer geeks and towing the corporate line. But as luck would have it, WILDFOWL editor Skip Knowles rescued me from the land of premiums and co-pays.


We had been planning a trip to the gun range for some time, and on this day, in the sweltering heat of late March (somehow it was almost 90 degrees), he cruised past my desk, "Want to go shooting?"

Thankfully, I had dad's Browning BPS, left to my brother and I after he passed years ago, in the trunk of my car. We grabbed some shells, hopped in my trusty '93 Caddy and were off. The drive was nerve-wracking. My palms filled with sweat — pulse racing. Dad had scraped and scrounged every dollar for this pump-action beauty, and I can remember him standing over me, probably with much anxiety, as his 8-year-old son shot a man's gun for the first time. Now, having barely touched the BPS in 20 years, I was feeling the same nervousness he'd felt.


The Skipper is big on teaching (he's like a Greek Nostradomus), which is good for me as I still have plenty to learn. So, we worked on patterning basics, and fed a Winchester Super Steel 3-inch, No. 1 into the chamber. Firing my father's favorite gun for the first time in two decades had me jittery. I wanted to make a solid shot. The bead continuously jumped outside the kill zone. Finally, I calmed myself and fired. As we walked downrange, it was clear — I'm a high shooter, likely saving the lives of dozens of birds over the years.

A second, more accurate shot, gave us the results we were looking for — 14 BBs inside an 8-inch death circle at 25 yards. Next, I fired some old 3-inch, No. 4 load at the same distance. Thirty-two lovely pellets patterned the circle, perfect for massacring decoying mallards.

Dad would've been proud. He also would've been proud of the hard-kicking, 3-inch, 1 7/8-ounce lead turkey loads from Remington we popped off, resulting in two very sore shoulders, only made better by post-gunning adult beverages'┬ŽI mean FIJI waters.

My intention was to buy a new auto-loader this summer, but I'm scratching that idea. This fall, there will be a BPS by my side. Early Canada season can't come soon enough.

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