The Pickering Chronicles – Introduction

Intro:  It is time to let the two dogs into the house (they like to wrestle and damage furniture), take myself outside for a toke, turn on TV for a crucial NBA playoff game, grab a beer, light a cigarette, and stick a die in the press so I can reload while I watch the game.

No, I don’t think so. I think The Kentucky Patriot would counsel me that doing such would be a bad idea. 

It didn’t take me long to figure out my friends weren’t kidding. You concentrate when you reload or, as Johnny says, “If you don’t, you can blow your face off!” I don’t think any of you reloaders who upload videos have properly enough described the concentration required to do a good job or the stress relief one can realise by embracing the focus needed to enjoy this hobby.

I don’t own a chronograph, a progressive press, a backyard range, or a good camera so my contribution to The Reloaders Network is likely to be marginal and have little to do with the day-to-day details of loading up a specific powder for a specific calibre and a specific bullet. You’ll not get the in-depth truths that’ll get you to the 0.1 MOAs, neat groups, or 1,000 yard hits others can guide you to find. Not from me, anyway. (I’m going for paper plate kills at 50 yards.)

Instead, through this venue, I’d like to chronicle a few intertwined stories of this amateur’s efforts to find and hit a target:  

  1. the history of my experience with firearms;
  2. how I got into reloading;
  3. my “reloading” room build and rebuild;
  4. and how I got to the spot I’m in as I write:  I depart on May 19 for the adventure of a lifetime — two weeks from now I’ll be in the bush in Sikumbi Forest Reserve, Zimbabwe, stalking an elephant.

Before I go I’d like to begin something that I hope will be a regular contribution to this site; and, first of all, give a giant shout out to Loads of Bacon for all the time and effort he has put into creating this space. I do believe The Reloaders Network will be something that brings us all more together and will last in one form or another for a long, long time.


I got into reloading to save money. My plan was to reload .44 mag and .38 specials. But then I got sucked into the idea of going to Africa. A friend of a friend gave us a Winchester 94 chambered in .375 Win Mag. You can’t buy ammo for it, but you CAN buy 38-55 and resize the brass to load .375 Win Mag, so I bought the dies. The .375 wasn’t enough for an elephant so I bought a CZ550 chambered in .458; to prepare myself for a hunt I wanted more than a tiny bit of practice with my new rifle so I bought a set of RCBS dies (more about that later). I’ve been reloading light loads — 20 per time — of 230 grain cast bullets pushed by 20gr Trail Boss. Works fine, and doesn’t destroy my shoulder.

The day before yesterday someone [IN MY BUILDING!!!] broke into my car and stole two rifles from the trunk of my car:  a beautiful Uberti 1866 Yellowboy lever action .38sp and my nearly new CZ550. I’m leaving for Africa in 8 days. I’m getting hassled by the Calgary City police because they haven’t taken the same RCMP-required safety course that I have taken. They think I’ve endangered all of Canada by “storing firearms in an unsafe manner”. The definition of that is apparently, “if someone stole them, you MUST have stored them unsafely. You ain’t the victim, Dude! Youz da PERP!”

My friend in Africa has a firearm I can use, so all is not lost. I might even get some reimbursement from my insurance company. We’ll see.

I don’t know how much I’ll be able to contribute while I’m on the road (after 12 days in Zimbabwe my wife and I will be in China for a month) but we shall see. In the meantime, whenever I can, I’ll catch up with the latest from you folks and throw my two cents into the pot. 



Find the entire series here:  The Pickering Chronicles

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