Loading Dummy Rounds for Dry Fire Practice

One of my favorite rifle exercises that can be safely performed on the Odin Mountain Compound (OMC) is the practice of dry firing dummy rounds at imaginary targets.

In this article I will discuss my take on the importance of Dry Fire Practice, especially as pertains to learning how to use your magazines. The magazine portion is not trivial and I hope to convey to you something of its importance.

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Blueberry Bush Workout

Today I took a break from scouting in the forest and mountains or training in various ways on the Odin Mountain compound. No less important to maintaining the perimeter and training with gear is the maintenance and improvement of resources necessary to sustain oneself.

This morning I planted six young high bush blueberry plants in an area behind the garage that was once used as a rubbish dump by previous owners of the property. After days of work removing and recycling literally a ton of debris, an area about 25-feet x 25-feet because available and I determined a best use for the parcel of land would be blueberry bushes.
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Air Rifle Training

This morning is a fine Fall season day. The Fall Foliage colors here in the Great North Woods is peaking. Tourists line the roads snapping pictures in vain a attempt to take back home with them a piece of the wondrous beauty they hehold from the windows of automobiles and tour buses.

But it does not work for them. As you soon as you attempt to capture beauty and mountain freedom, you loose it, much as we are losing it all today.

This morning is also a fine time for some quick rifle training on the Odin Mountain Compound (OMC). So I donned my regulation camouflage clothing, the full battle belt, grabbed the Diana Air King Model 54 caliber 22 pellet rifle and went out back of the Odin Mountain Barracks (OMB).

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Abbot Hill Scout Age 55 Years 47 Days

This morning I chose to scout Abbot Hill (elevation about 1720 feet) which is just south of Route 3 while carrying nearly a full three-day load except for food.

Gear on my belt, battle belt, shoulder bag, three-day pack, and rifle totaled about 61 pounds, which is a considerable weight to carry off-trail in dense forest and steep mountains.

This includes two quarts of water. Ammo carried was eleven four-round magazines plus one in the rifle plus one round in the chamber plus 20 boxed rounds for a total of 69. Elephant gun ammunition is heavy stuff.

If you figure about 2.5 pounds per day for food a “real” 3-day scout with the same basic gear would bring the weight to 68.5 pounds.
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Rifle Practice using a Pellet Gun

The Odin Mountain compound has about four acres in town, with a variety of forest, swamp, stream, and open land which is conducive to training.

However, being so close to civilization means I cannot discharge “traditional” firearms due to the possibility of ricochets flying off into residential areas. Also the noise produced by the discharge of even a .22lr round may be frowned upon by neighbors.

I’ve developed a safe way to practice rifle skills in an as real-world way as possible in the convenience of my backyard while actually putting lead down range. My efforts have been paying off.
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Beaver Brook Bog Scout

About noon I saddled up and drove my truck to a pull-off near the south end of trudeau Road in Bethlem, New Hampshire. On the west side of the road is a bog-like area formed by Beaver Brook and tributaries as it flows into a flat area.

Because we have been experiencing something of a drought, I thought it a good time to explore that area since water levels are low and the land may be traverse-able on foot without sinking up my ankles and knees in mossy mud with every step.

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Reservoir Loop Scout

Today I decided to try and link up two separate old logging roads in the Mt. Garfield area. The first road, of which I am very familiar, is the access road to the Littleton town water supply on the east branch of the Gale River. On the opposite side of the stream and bit off to the west is a series of partially overgrown logging roads that appear to have been in heavy use several years ago.

Both roads are blocked to public vehicular traffic (though that can be easily overcome if need be). If I were able to connect these two roads into a single loop it can make cross-country scouting in that area much easier be it on foot, mountain bicycle, or motorized vehicle.
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Youth and Age

I remember, years ago, lifting weights every day as a teen. My plastic weights filled with cement combined with the bar maxed out at 110-pounds. Every day after school I did the following:

3 sets of 10 110-lbs military press
3 sets of 10 110-lbs rows
3 sets of 10 110-lbs bench press

Then I would go for a three mile run.

I weighed 150 pounds at the time.

Here I am 37 years later at age 54 weighing 218 pounds, I can easily do the rows and bench press far beyond these weights. But the military press…I was a fucking strong young man!

Footwear Failure!

I recently hit upon the idea of briskly walking a hilly, forested nine-mile “loop” several times a week along a US Forest Service dirt road known as the Gale River Road. There are several advantages to using this road for long walks (including it’s limited traffic). This will be of use not only in my physical training but in also maintaining many other aspects of being prepared for come what may.

Last week I walked this road a couple times using my cross-trainers as footwear for a total of two walks of 9-miles each. It should have been simple exercise since all I carried in my pack were an extra fleece sweatshirt, a space blanket, two quarts of water, and insect repellent.

A unexpected and very serious problem arose, having worn these very same sneakers for the last couple years nearly daily in town and around the home: the Achilles heal area on my right foot developed worn patches where the shoe had broken through the outer skin.
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I Found Gungnir

Today is April 26, which is deep into Spring in many places but here in the mountains of the Great North Woods a snowstorm this time of year is not infrequent.

This morning I went for a long walk off-trail through the snowy forest and mountains, a wet clinging snow several inches deep making the way wet as it fell not only from the air but also from every tree and bush I came in contact with.

What happened during this hike I have to pinch myself in order to prove it is real.

This early morning I parked my truck at the closed-for-the-winter US Forest Service gate at the beginning of the Gale River Road near Franconia, New Hampshire. From there, I walked a couple miles up the dirt road, in places quite steep, to the dead-end and then on up through an un-maintained trail to an interesting protuberance known as “The Nubble”.

On the summit of The Nubble winter was in full force. A total whiteout of blinding snow and wind on its fully exposed ledges. Taking pictures was impossible, the snow falling so fast and furiously as to cover the lens of the camera as soon as I removed it from its case.

I was taking a real beating from the elements on The Nubble, and was worried about getting off those exposed ledges as the trail down is steep, ledgey, and slippery in such conditions. I beat a hasty retreat back down into the comfort and safety of the protecting forest.

With some difficulty and risk I made it to the base of The Nubble. From there I proceeded southward through the wet winter-like forest toward the nearby trail-less and un-named mountain sometimes referred to as “The Peak Above the Nubble”. Since I knew, basically, all I had to do was go uphill in order to reach the summit I did not bother to use a compass but simply proceeded in a generally uphill direction.

As I made my way upward, with the thought of reaching the summit of this nearly 4000-foot mountain, almost assuredly alone for miles in this off-season difficult weather, I had the adventure of a lifetime….

Gungnir Map
1) Parking 2) Begin Bushwhack 3) The Nubble 4) Found Gungnir 5) Un-Named Peak

Beautiful, silent, mountain forest, bedecked in a mantle of white. I enjoyed ambling along, exploring as I love to do places I have never been.

Eventually I came out upon a series of beaver dams and meadows created by beavers as they cleared the trees for food and dam building material.

Using a beaver dam as a natural bridge to cross the swift cold mountain stream, I could see up ahead the summit of the un-named peak and my intended destination. Suddenly I heard the loud slap of a beaver tail smacking water with force, as is the nature of beavers in sounding warning of an intruder.

Thinking I could get a view of the beaver and perhaps a picture, I worked my way toward the general area I had heard the beavers splash. What I found caused me to be perplexed indeed.

There just downstream, shimmering in the shallows of the cold mountain stream were what appeared to be a pile of very large gold nuggets! Knowing that finding gold in these mountains is not out of the question (as I have often panned for gold recreationally) I quickly made my way to the spot for closer investigation. Perhaps I had found the mother lode!

What’s this?? About eight or ten brass Rifle cartridges!

Brass cartridges in water
Just downstream from a beaver dam I find a pile of brass cartridges in the stream.

Upon closer inspection I could see they were stamped near the primers “.375 H&H”, un-fired, loaded with copper bullets or copper jacketed bullets.

What a strange caliber. Obviously belonging to a rifle, I am very familiar with the Nato .223 and .308 calibers as well as the 7.62 x 39 “AK” rounds etc, but these cartridges are very large, substantially larger than the .308’s.

I stood up from the stream bed and looked around – there, on the bank of the stream lined up on a log and poking out from the snow were another half dozen cartridges!

Row of cartridges in snow
A row of cartridges placed on a snow covered log.

But this was not all. Just beyond this newly found ammunition I noticed a line of cartridges, all of this same caliber, evenly spaced by about six inches or a foot, leading away from the stream.

A line of cartridges in the snow
A line of cartridges in the snow

Naturally I paused and looked around my position. I became very suspicious – WTF was going on here?

No tracks in the fresh snow, which meant that however this ammo got here it must have been before the snowfall which started last night.

But then how could the cartriges be partly on top of the snow, as though they were dropped there from the air?

I circled around, a hundred feet on either side. Nothing but snow.

Following the trail of cartridges, I picked them up as I went, up the stream bank and back into the thick forest where the beaver hadn’t cut trees.

Looking up into a patch of giant white pine trees, a bit rare for this altitude for I must have been over 2600-feet elevation, I glimpsed just the head of a Raven bird who had alighted on a snowy branch that was bending from the weight of the bird and the heavy snow. As the Raven landed, a patch of snow fell off the branch which caused it to vigorously bounce up and down.

Hiden Raven in White Pine tree
Seconds before I took this picture, a raven landed on the large snowy branch in the foreground and then ducked behind it.

I took a picture just as the Raven ducked out of sight. Try as I might, I could not see the bird again, though I did not see it fly away. I got the feeling that the Raven was there…amongst the snowy branches….spying on me….

Standing still looking for the Raven, I happened to glance to my left, to the crook of several birch trees growing from the same base.

And there it was.

A shining metal rifle.

Gungnir - rifle in a Birch tree
Gungnir – rifle in a Birch tree

Laying against the birch trees, amongst the snow and the underbrush, I never would have noticed the rifle had I not stopped for the raven….

Picking up the rifle I could see it was a bolt action of stainless steel and wood stock construction with an empty magazine inserted into the magazine well.

Examining the rifle I named "Gungnir"
Examining the rifle I named “Gungnir” minutes after finding it.

Excited by the events of the day and my unexpected find, I decided the best course of action was to re-trace my steps back the truck which by now was several miles away through a wet snowy forest.

Rifle in hand, with 20 rounds of heavy ammunition, I slogged my way uneventfully back to the truck and drove home where I took this picture of the days find.

Gungnir in the snow with 20 cartridges found with the rifle
Gungnir in the snow with 20 cartridges found with the rifle