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Petzal: Some Sage Advice from Bert Popowski
Back in the 1960s, I worked for a little magazine called Guns and Hunting, and one of our regular contributors was a nice old guy from South Dakota named Bert Popowski. Bert was a varmint hunt mostly, and in particular was hell on crows (in those days it was considered fun to pick a roost tree and dynamite it), but he also did a short rifle piece whose title and advice have stuck with me lo these four decades.
It was called, “Shoot off the Meat of Your Hand,” and I doubt we could use such a title today because of its unfortunate connotations of self-abuse. What it was actually about was this: Some rifles shoot differently when sighted in off a sandbag than they do when you hold them in your hand. As I’ve learned over the years, not all rifles are sensitive to what they’re resting on, some are sensitive a little bit, and some will shoot way off. It is your job to find out. When you think you’re on target, slide your hand under the fore-end and grasp it in a firm, manly manner. Then shoot three shots and see where they go. Shooting off your hand is not quite as steady as off a sandbag, but there you are.
And now a request. For some weeks the Cabela’s in Owatonna, MN has had a left-hand .416 Rigby up for sale. It was made by a gunsmith named Pete Norene who obviously knows his stuff and then some. This rifle is a freakin’ jewel, to put it bluntly. At one point, someone put down some money on it but then lost his nerve. I would appreciate it if one of you southpaws would buy it so I don’t have to keep looking at it and grinding my teeth. The reference number is 999866. If someone will give it a home, I will run a gratuitous photo of Ms. Elisha Cuthbert, or someone equally wonderful. Thank you.