The Blind Beggar of Saigon, 1972
Camp Perry is beginning to loom on the horizon. I've taken all four rifles: AR15, Swiss K31, Garand and 1903A3 down to the studio where I have set up my cart and put up a paster to aim at so I can dry-fire. Twice a day. I flip a light I on the target and my jacket hangs on the back of the chair. A print rail is on the wall a couple of feet in front of my face. Started off looking at a big Shiprock shadow, then progressed to a night photo, (immediately saw it was printed too dark), and finally to a little matted photo of the Beggar of Saigon.
The beggar isn't even a photograph, it's a transmitted facsimile of a photo. Dots. Lines. Ebay this Spring. Shot in 1972 by some un-named AP staffer. The man is a South Vietnamese soldier, blinded and reduced to begging on a sidewalk. I dry fire a shot, follow through, then take the rifle down and look at his face.
Just to the right is a photo of Rick Crawford and a little piece of black ribbon off graveside flowers.
This is a lot of dryfiring, even for me. I didn't do this much when I was trying to learn to shoot and I have never worked the old vintage rifles so much. I think it's helping. It certainly shows tendencies, flaws, et in your technique and natural point of aim. Twice a day I shoot three of the four rifles 15 shots each. The Swiss K31 is the lightest. My AR is the heaviest by far. Full kit: sweatshirt, shooting glasses, cart, green eyeshade, muffs.
As I'm picking up details in my offhand I'm also seeing details in the photo. He is on a sidewalk, not the street. There is a little awning in the upper right corner. Someone just walked out of the left side of the frame. Click, click, click. He's probably dead and long gone.....or he could be right there, right now, 40 years later. People are tough.
I will probably replace him in a few days, or he might go with me all the way through the National Championships. I've kind of gotten used to talking to him about my offhand.
Morning Shadow, Shiprock, New Mexico.
5:30. Better go dry-fire a little bit.