There's a scene in Patriarch Run in which the sheriff unloads a few cylinders from his Colt Python service revolver into a paper plate at 150 yards.
I thought it'd be worthwhile to describe how it is I came to write such a scene. Many, many moons ago I was reading "Hitting At 200 Yards With A Handgun", an article written by a couple handloaders, Dan Keisey and Bill McConnell, and posted in the Tech Notes at Beartoothbullets.com.
The quick summary of their achievement is that Dan shoots a 5.25" five-shot group at 200 yards, a 3.62" five-shot group at 150 yards and a 1.97" three-shot group at 100 yards. Dan's revolver was topped with a 2.5X8 Leopold scope. That type of shooting is extraordinary. However, Bill took a more difficult path. He used iron sights to shoot an 8" group at 200 yards and a 3.5" group at 100 yards. Details about the loads and guns they used are available in their article.
I should point out a couple key differences between the article and my story. First, both shooters in the article used the .44 Magnum cartridge; whereas, the sheriff in my story uses the .357 Magnum cartridge. In terms of accuracy, the difference in cartridges is not very significant. Both cartridges are very accurate, especially when handloaded. Furthermore, the shooters in the article used longer barrels than the sheriff, which aids in accuracy. That being said, Bill states that the long-range groups from his 5.5" barrel were just as good as the groups from his 7.5" barrel, "With practice though the group fell into roughly the same size as with the longer barrel."
What's remarkable is that with a 5.5" barrel and iron sights, Bill was able to shoot 8" groups at 200 yards and 3.5" groups at 100 yards.
Bill's accomplishment inspired the scene in my story in which the sheriff uses a 4" Colt Python (a revolver renowned for its accuracy) to shoot a paper plate, which would be about 9" in diameter, at 150 yards. An easier task, in my estimation, than what Bill was able to accomplish.
The scene serves, among other things, to establish the sheriff as an authority with his firearm.
Here's the Scene:
Billy, at ten years old, wanted to shoot that Winchester 1894 more than he wanted anything else in the world. He set five cans on five fence posts a full hour before the sheriff was due back. Paced off fifty yards, marked the spot with a line drawn by his boot heel and waited on the porch for the rest of the afternoon, until the sheriff’s car finally came up the drive.
“I take it you want to show me some shootin’.”
Billy loaded five cartridges into the magazine of the .22. “You reckon that’s fifty yards?”
The sheriff thought it was closer to sixty. “Looks like it to me.”
Billy shouldered the rifle and shot the first can off the fence. He levered in another round and did it four more times.
The sheriff put his hand on Billy’s shoulder. “I’d say that settles it.”
The next day he brought him a thousand .30-30 handloads. “This is a starter load. Shoot four cans out of five at seventy-five yards and I’ll heat it up a little.”
A month later, Billy shot another five cans off the fence.
“You think you’re ready for squirrels?”
“If you think so.”
The sheriff gave him a box of another thousand handloads. “This is a good load for squirrels. Just keep it away from the house. And it’s probably best not to talk about it with your mother.”
“And you leave an Abert’s squirrel alone. He has a right to do as he pleases. Shoot the fox squirrels.”
They walked together behind the house.
“You’ll find, as you get older, people aren’t all that different than squirrels. There are those who sustain their habitat and those whose sole purpose is to destroy it.”
Billy had no idea what the sheriff meant by that, but he remembered the words.
By the time the boy harvested his first mule deer, he was shooting paper plates at a hundred and fifty yards with iron sights. The sheriff would watch his trigger pull, his jaw muscles, his eye lids.
“That’s it. Nice and smooth.”
Billy’d hit the plate with every round in the magazine. And the sheriff would pat him on the shoulder and say it again, “That’s the evidence of a disciplined mind.” Then he’d draw his service revolver, take Billy’s place on the bench and empty a few cylinders into the same paper plate.