North Central Idaho Practical Field Ballistics Terminology: “M.O.C.”

We spent this weekend out camping in an Idaho mountain meadow, in an “open range” area (where cattle wander free, and are branded for later roundup).  Aside from being stunningly beautiful, with the fall colors coming on and the abundant wildlife resulting from recent logging operations (you did know that logging results in copious new foliage for the grazing of deer and elk, and cover for small game, didn’t you?) there are quite a lot of cow pies.

Grass and water go in one end of the bovine, you see, and cow pies are what come out of the other end.  The name applies whether the bovine in question is male or female.  That saves you the trouble of determining whether a given pie is a cow pie, a bull pie, or a heifer pie, etc..

I’d been doing some shooting out there with several firearms, and asked my 10 year-old daughter to get out her .22 rifle.  She wasn’t much interested until I pointed out that she could try shooting at small pieces of wood floating in a pond.  She quickly discovered that if you place a bullet just under the floating stick it will jump 15 feet into the air.  That got her attention, and she was soon asking for more ammo.  She’s a fairly new shooter, so her hit rate wasn’t very good, and she lost interest until she discovered that a fresh cow pie will explode if hit with a .22 Long Rifle hollowpoint.

In other words, her shooting may not be minute-of-angle accurate (one M.O.A. equals one sixtieth of a degree) but she can shoot “Minute Of Cow pie” (M.O.C.) which allows her to enjoy a 100% hit rate on these impromptu, reactive targets.

She spent the rest of the afternoon shooting cow pies with a big grin on her face (and me laughing to myself, thinking how wonderfully stereotypical, North-Idaho-redneck an activity that was).

For further study, I picked up some beer cans (probably discarded by some pale, leftist San Franciscans who thought getting drunk and littering in Idaho would be a hoot) filled them with water and shot them with various calibers.  It happens that a .223 Remington cartridge, pushing a 55 grain, hard-jacketed spitzer at around 3,000 feet per second will cause the water-filled aluminum can to burst out in all directions, yet still hold together in one piece, whereas a soft lead sphere of .495″ diameter (50 caliber patched round ball – the patched ball is an American innovation that was used with deadly effect against King George’s officers during the Revolution) traveling at about half that velocity will blow the can into several pieces, scattering them up and out about 15 yards, leaving the base of the can still holding water where it stood (I picked up the pieces and took them home if you must know, leaving the meadow cleaner than we found it).

I also discovered that you can hit gallon jug-sized targets at 200 yards (you do travel with a rangefinder, don’t you?) with a little youth model .22 rifle, zeroed at 20 yards, if you aim about 5 1/2 feet high.  You have enough time to bring the rifle down and listen/watch for the impact at that distance.

Ain’t freedom grand?