Bev Pinney took dead aim at the Washington State cast bullet championship last month and claimed yet another shooting title.
Pinney shot a 392 at the 200-yard range and a perfect score of 400 at the 100-yard distance to best sharp shooters from B.C., Oregon and Washington.
The 80-year-old Salmo resident hit a three-quarter-inch bulls eye 40 times for the perfect round at the tournament near Seattle.
“Not very often I get a perfect score. A lot of people will go through their whole lives and never shoot above 395, never even get over 390 . . . for a cast bullet, that’s pretty amazing,” said Pinney.
Pinney captured the title in the plain-base category, named for the type of bullet used in the event.
Plain base bullets date back to the late 1800s and early 1900s. The bullets are hand-made, a combination of 30-parts lead and one-part tin, molded in a cast. The distance and trajectory are different than the modern bullet, but homemade fare is an intrinsic element to cast bullet shooting.
“You make them yourself – now that’s an art in itself. It’s something you have to get used to . . . but you must make them yourself in order for them to work well.”
Pinney uses a bolt action, 30-30X32 short Musgrave rifle with a Leupold 45 scope that he’s adapted to accommodate the plain base bullet, which travels slower and is therefore less accurate than a gas-check bullet.
“They can drive that (a gas-check bullet) at 2,200 feet per second which is a great advantage at 200 yards because the bullet doesn’t vary as much for the wind,” explained Pinney.
To level the playing field, Pinney makes his plain bullets slightly heavier – 230 grain – to offset the affects of the wind.
“That’s the other aspect, you must be able to read the wind.”
Pinney uses a flag placed about 60-yards down the course to judge the speed of the wind and alter his sights, but the real secret is simply waiting for the lull, he says.
Pinney started shooting at age nine and hasn’t put down the rifle since. He keeps his keen eye and steady hand by shooting at the Nelson Rod and Gun Club almost every day.
The Salmo sharpshooter has won the U.S. National championships plain-base category four times, the overall national championship once, numerous state championships and was a member of the Canadian National small-bore rifle team for nine years.
Arguably the best plain-base marksman in North America, after 71 years of shooting he maintains his consistency through his dedication to the sport.
“How do we do anything well? You’re doing it all the time, you get so it’s a part of you, and you think about how you can better this and better that.
“Practice I think is very important because you have to prove to yourself that you can do it. And once you prove to yourself that you can do it, when you go to the match, you know that you can do this if I apply myself.”
Like any art, application is key.
Pinney encourages anyone to try a hand at cast bullet shooting by joining the Nelson Rod and Gun Club.