Tuesday, October 1, 2013

COMPLEAT BUSHCRAFT II: Raw Targets

THE SHIFT OF PLAYGROUND from the Babag Mountain Range to the south of Metro Cebu, particularly in Lower Sayaw, Sibonga last April, was a good experiment and presented good results. It was bushcraft at its best combining ageless primitive-living skills with new ideas at a place faraway from scrutiny of the ignoramus. It was a good venue to talk about real-life scenarios while polishing on real-life skills. It was good stuff and that was a perfect outlet for any gentleman of the outdoors.

Upon the invitation – again – of Glenn Pestaño I come down from my comfort zone and go meet him at the Cebu South Bus Terminal in the early morning of June 2, 2013. There he was, by his lonesome self, sitting on the lounge chair with a well-wrapped item by his side. He promised to bring his air-powered Benjamin caliber .177 rifle for an activity which we agreed to be held at Magsipit, Carcar in the south and that might be it.


The bulk on the wrapping shows that it concealed not just one but two rifles and that is heavy. Although we know that the COMELEC Gun Ban is still enforced, we both decide to risk the carrying and transporting of the rifles, for these, we believe, are “soft contraband”, not worth the trouble for any policeman to delve into unless the rifles cause severe harm and grave alarm.

So, there is no big deal about that and we ride a Ceres Liner bus bound for Carcar and, after an hour of seamless ride, we disembark at the crossroads of Awayan where Randell Savior was waiting for us. Randell have with him his motorcycle while Glenn decide to ride a tricycle and I, on the other hand, hop on another motorcycle which I hired on the spot. It was a short ride and I arrive at the place first where I shell out twenty pesos as fare.

I wait for Glenn and Randell and when they do arrive, Glenn introduced me to his friend, Cecilio. Cecilio is our host and he offer us his backyard for our activity. Stashed to the side of his home were two short poles of bamboo containing two segments each. Children were curious of my gear and I oblige their amusement by taking pictures of them. It is those little gestures that warm the heart of any kid and they give me a respectful distance.


I begin to work on the bamboo by cutting it open and make a crude pot so I could cook milled corn in it. As I was doing that, the children milled around me but I talked and taught them how it is done. I give them the idea that you can cook anything out of a bamboo and the best way is to teach them while they are young and I now build me a nation of bushcrafters. These little boys and girls would be handy someday.

Off to the side, Glenn is unwrapping the items inside and it reveal a Benjamin air rifle and another rifle that had been made and assembled locally. Both of these have scopes which Glenn expertly installed. Randell snatched the Benjamin and tried its balance and sight. Infront of my outdoor hearth is the target platform and I am in the line of fire. Excuse me! Not yet, you fools!


I gather all my wits and search for the promised beverage which Glenn prepared for me: a gallon of frothing coconut wine. Finding none along the naked vicinity of my vision, Glenn retrieved it from inside the house and there it is in its bubbly splendor. Haha...! Now I can see the beginnings of a good bushcrafting day.

Randell help me in stoking the fire to life with a good supply of chopped dry bamboos as I begin to make another crude pot of bamboo for the rice. You know what, I have my own way of cooking rice inside of a bamboo pole which is different from those done with modern pottery. This technique is also in contrast to methods utilized by the Aetas and other tribal peoples on the same bamboo.

I could cook anything on any kind of bamboo save frying something with oil which you could not do on any organic medium like a bamboo pole. When the rice is almost done, the fire becomes the property now of the fresh fish and pork meat. Over these glowing coals, the boys take over cooking grilled fish and pork. Glass after glass of fresh coconut wine becomes mine alone as no one accepted the challenge of this indigenous beverage.


When all the cooking were finished, the food are set on a table with banana leaves as table cover. Everyone milled around the table and partake of the food. My rice and milled corn, still in their bamboo vessels, are splayed on the line and becomes curiosity items which every local would want to add to their taste buds and gourmet memory. Anything cooked in bamboo exude a sweet aroma and it adds to a perfect appetite.

When the table is set aside, Glenn and Randell make ready the rifles, the carbon dioxide tanks, the .177 pellets and the targets. First target were the empty shells of what used to be tree snails. Glenn is so adept at his rifles and hit the shells one by one after two misses while Randell play catch up by hitting his first shell after a miss of six.


When both have hit target after target, they look sideways at me with my gallon and glass of coconut wine. They asked me to try and shoot some target. Honestly, in my life, I have never fired an air rifle but I have with different assault rifles spewing fire and lead. I declined at first but, since they were very annoying and very redundant in their request, I accepted the dare.

I heave the Benjamin and firmly place it on my left shoulder since I am a lefty. The center eye of the scope danced as my breathing is ragged. (Bless the coconut wine!) I could not make it still even when I release slowly my breathe. I shifted the butt again and locked it squarely on my shoulder joint while I locked my right arm on my body and slowly release my breathe.


Slowly the tension is gone and I squeeze the trigger lightly and I just got a beginner’s luck. The shell fell from where it is suspended, obviously, caused by a direct hit which a pellet bore a hole into and exiting behind it. I make it look so easy, to the unbelief of both Glenn and Randell, but it ain’t. In fact, I was straining hard and forcing my body to keep still. That’s all there is: Beginner’s luck!

So, from shells, the targets were changed into water bottle caps arrayed at the top platform and empty shells from 7.62mm ammunition line on the lower platform. Glenn and Randell were placing bets on who could hit as many targets as they can. I decide to change the rules by making the targets more confusing. I attach a blue plastic far behind the blue caps and pierce dry small bamboo poles behind the 7.2mm shells. Then I give them five minutes each to drop all ten targets.

Glenn dropped five blue caps and ran out of time. Randell brought down two caps and lost to time and his ten pesos to Glenn. Then both egg me to try my own rules on myself. I never hit a target even when I keep on shifting from left hand to right hand and back and, at one time, I have to stop the time to remove the telescopic sights so I could use the iron sights. All to no avail.


The air gun mechanism when loading a round on the breech is just too complicated for me and make me clumsy. That was why I have the scope sight removed so I could load a pellet quickly. I am not adept with air rifles but I could start and learn in belated fashion. I find it very interesting and fun. Maybe I could have Glenn make available his air rifles next time or maybe I could have one myself.

When the afternoon begin to cast long shadows, it was time to leave. At around 3:00 PM, we decide to end our session. I hopped behind Randell on his motorcycle for the highway while Glenn borrowed a motorcycle to escort us but he will stay for the night. Randell will also stay in Carcar and I will be the only one to go back to the big city. The coconut wine make the best of me and I slept in the bus only to be awakened at the terminal. Feeling refreshed, I proceed home and wished another compleat bushcraft session next time.


Document done in LibreOffice 3.3 Writer

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