Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Personal - Thanks Doc . . . .


August 2002 . . . . The “plumbing” just isn’t working right . . . . and it’s becoming one of those nagging feelings that’s the beginnings of an alarm bell. My personal Doc suggests we do some blood work  -  just in case.  The results confirm that something is off, my PSA is pushing 5 . . . not one of the better results. 

November 2002 . . . . A second test . . . . PSA still right at 5 . . . . . my personal Doc is officially concerned.  I play the “Christmas” card . . . . an appointment is set with a Urologist for February 2003 . . . .

March 2003 . . . . Dr. Richardson looks thing over . . . . schedules yet another PSA test . . . . slightly over 5 . . . . shit!!!  A prostate biopsy is scheduled for 3 weeks later . . . . shit!!!

Mrs. B is workin’ . . . . I go to the clinic to meet Dr. Richardson . . . . straight shooter, direct, honest, confident . . . . looks me in the eye . . . “You have prostate cancer Bill . . . here’s your options.”  Shit!!  We chat, I listen . . . a follow-up is set for a few weeks . . . .  I research . . . . and choose.  Let’s just take the damn thing out!!!

April 2003 . . . . I look at Dr. Richardson as he has me count backwards from 100 . . . I get to 90 . . . . and I’m waking up in the recovery room . . . . the Doc looks at me . . . “it went well Bill, it was contained . . “

And so began 10 years of visits, waiting, “hoping” . . . . those 10 years ended today.

April 2013 . . . . today . . . . 10 years . . . .  I graduated . . . . I’m officially a survivor.

For those of you looking at this particular monster . . . . take heart . . . .

. . . . . you can beat it, you can be a survivor as well.

Thanks Doc . . . . for a new start, a clean bill of health, the ability to hold 3 great granddaughters, see a  son get married and for these past 10 years with my  wife. 

And knowing that there’s more years to come . . . .

Friday, April 26, 2013

Just the Basics - Your Dominant Eye


Dominant: commanding, controlling, or prevailing over all others

Our bodies work out a lot of the mechanics of everyday living as we grow. Balance, movement, reaching, the incorporation of vision and touch . . . . it’s an amazingly complex machine. It takes years to train.

One of the “decisions” our bodies usually make is whether an individual is right handed or left handed. It’s not that one hand or the other is useless . . . . just which one is “dominant”, which hand do we prefer to use. There are some folks who are truly ambidextrous – they are fully comfortably using either hand interchangeably. Rare, but they are out there.

Typically, our eyes follow our hand preference. If we are right hand dominant, our body prefers to use our right eye first to focus on an object that we may be reaching for. In the shooting sports – eye dominance plays an important part is “sighted fire”. Those instances when we take full advantage of sight alignment and sight picture prior to pressing the trigger. So what is an easy way to determine which of our eyes is the “dominant” one?

Start by extending your arms out in front of you and forming a triangle . . . it looks something like this:


Pick a point in the distance and put it at the center of the triangle. I have chosen the face of a 1900s Waterbury Clock that sits on our mantel. KEEP BOTH EYES OPEN.

Then, slowly move your hands towards your face, keeping both eyes open and slowly making the triangle smaller and smaller until your hands touch your face and you can still see the clock face.

clip_image004 clip_image006

With your hands touching your face, the triangle intact, both eyes open and the clock face clearly visible . . . . close one eye at a time. DO NOT MOVE YOUR HANDS! The eye you close, that makes the clock face disappear, is your dominant eye. Try this exercise a couple of time, you’ll get the hang of it.

Could you be right handed BUT left-eye dominant?? Sure, and just the opposite as well . . . left handed BUT right-eye dominant. This is called “cross-eye” dominant. For pistol shooting, a small adjustment in your head position can compensate for sighted fire. For defensive fire – “metal on meat” - eye dominance has little effect.

However, for long-gun shooting using iron sights or a scope, you may well find it easier to switch shooting hands. Again, cross-eye dominant shooters are not all that common – in the 20% range. And, if you are cross-eye dominant, you can certainly training your body to adapt to either switching shooting hands, or using your non-dominant eye.

Do this little exercise, figure out which is your dominant eye and then adapt as necessary.

Just the Basics - Metal on Meat . . . .


Perhaps one of the greatest frustrations of a new shooter is simply hitting the target. That silly little piece of paper with the black dot and surrounding circles. I have discussed the entire process of stance, grip, sight picture and sight alignment a number of different ways. It should be simple . . . . it doesn’t seem to be . . . . even for some “old heads”.

For many shooters, their range trip consists of standing in a bay, behind a bench with their weapon, ammunition and magazines in front of them. Their time is spent making holes in paper with the intent of having the smallest grouping possible. There’s nothing wrong with this at all. It’s a good way for a new shooter to learn the basics of stance, grip, sight alignment, sight picture, trigger press . . . . and getting familiar with their weapon. This is all good stuff! However, it is also very limiting and can introduce some habits that could prove fatal in a defensive situation.

Remember, most defensive shootings follow the “Rule of Three” – 3-rounds, 3-yards, 3-seconds. From the identification of a threat until the end of the engagement . . . . 3 seconds. Obviously, if you take the time to draw, get a nice stance and firm grip, align your sights so you are aimed center mass of your threat . . . . you may well go home in a Ziploc. You do not have time for the “fine points”. And, you have no need for them.

What is working both against you – and for you – is the distance to the threat. You don’t need to get fancy, you simply need to place “Metal on Meat” to get “combat effective hits”. These are hits on the threat that do damage, cause pain and are used to either change their mind about their attack on you . . . . or to put them down.

What the heck does “metal on meat” look like? Well, it looks something like this:

Image 106 Metal on meat 2 (Medium)

You’re looking at a 1/3 sized IDPA target at an equivalent distance of 21 feet (those3 above are ¼ sized and are used to simulate a threat 30 feet away). The weapon in my hand is my Glock 17. Notice that the “metal” (the rear of the slide) is completely covering the “meat” of the target – center mass of an oncoming threat at 21 feet. For the training I do – this is about the furthest distance for this type of shooting. You take one or two hands, grip the weapon, place your “metal” on their “meat” and press the trigger 2-5 times. No worries about stance, sight alignment, sight picture – just cover them with the back of your weapon and shoot.

A good way to introduce yourself to this type of shooting is to purchase a LaserLyte round for your weapon, print out a 1/3 sized IDPA target, tape it to a safe wall, insert your LaserLyte round in your weapon and practice your draw stroke and first-round hit. Change your focus to the threat . . . . draw your weapon . . . . join and extend . . . . and as SOON AS YOU HAVE “METAL ON MEAT”, press the trigger. Begin slow, work through the process and then gradually work up your speed with a sub-2 second goal for your first hit.

Once you are satisfied with this for dry fire, practice it on the range. Start slow . . . . no need to add holes to your body! If you can’t draw at your range, work from the low ready. Keep both your eyes open. Focus on the threat. Work at distances from 21 feet to 9 feet. I suspect you will be surprised how quickly this skill can be learned.

Time is life – it’s as simple as that. Spend too much time getting your aim “right” . . . . your day will not end well. Metal on Meat is one of the building blocks of defensive shooting. It’s quick, it’s accurate enough for the task at hand . . . . and it needs to be part of your skill set.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Range Trip – 4/23/2013 . . . . God saves a fool . . .


This “Spring” is playing hell getting our steel and rifle shoots under way. We had a total of 5 show last night with temps in the high 30s / very low 40s and the wind hanging in there at about 20mph. Let’s just say the weather could have been better!

Still, Doug and I had the two stages set before anyone else arrived. So few showed I made it a “freebie” as opposed to our normal $10 fee.

The other hitch here is just plain ammo – I don’t care the caliber. My last 500 round brick of .22LR cost me $70. My last 6 boxes of 9mm cost $30 each. That’s just a bit rich for me . . . . . I’m sure that the price and availability is having an effect on our attendance.

As I had said earlier, I’ve switch to my Springfield .45Cal 1911 for the year. So last night I use a very, very, very, very old box of ball ammo. Let’s just say it had a nice patina! J Still, it worked fine! I had a partial box of old steel JHP too, they well and truly sucked!! Finally, a partial Ziploc of .45Cal reloads from a friend. They fed fine but shot about 6 inches lower than the old ball ammo. So, plenty of practice with clearing drills with the JHPs and “Kentucky windage” to compensate for my friend’s reloads.

I had one run slightly over 6 seconds. I’ll take it. We have one fellow who comes – and he did last night as well – that runs a custom race gun. 9mm. Holy crap – 3.24??? Heavy sigh. I have some work to do!

The whole ammo shortage has many of our shooters reloading their own. The old heads have decades of practice and have much to teach us newbies. I hope to have my reloading gear up and running in the next few weeks, so I am sucking up all I can from these guys. They are more than generous with their time and in sharing their experiences.

And yet . . . . a person has to be willing to LISTEN to all this knowledge to actually learn from it . . . . gratefully God took pity on one shooter last night and saved his ass and probably his hand as well. I want to pass this story on NOT as a criticism of him, he’s actually a pretty friendly and outgoing fellow. He would simply rather “know” everything and speak rather than listen. Perhaps his experience will provide someone reading this post with a willingness to slow down a bit.

He was shooting a compact M&P .40Cal semi-automatic pistol. Not idea of the model, I didn’t check. He had spent a fair amount of time talking about how he had finally had to get into reloading, hashing over bullet types, powder manufacturers, loads he had “worked up”, brass from his company range (he’s a security guard at a nuclear plant) . . . . friendly conversation, yet it was obvious he was very, very new at the whole reloading thing. (I recognize this because it is exactly where I am at the moment – a newbie at reloading!) He’d just went out, gotten his equipment and went at it . . . . .

From his first couple of rounds it was apparent something was “off”. His weapon fed poorly, he had about a 20% failure to fire rate. He was not having a good night! On about his 3rd round of fire and probably his 2nd or 3rd round in his magazine, all I heard was a “PPHHHHTTTT!!” and that was it. Casing wasn’t ejected, no bang . . . and my head is screaming SQUIB!!! STOP SHOOTING!!!” His body is just doing the “slap, rack, shoot” clearing drill . . . . and he had a failure to feed. The casing was ejected, a new round stripped but when it went to seat in the chamber, the slide refused to close.

He cleared a couple more times, but the weapon would not feed properly. So, he stepped out of the box and went back to the range table. Since he had had so many failures earlier, he took some time to just check the ammo. He emptied his magazines, grabbed a new stock of reloads and stepped back into the rotation. Next time in the box . . . . same thing. Every round failed to properly load. He racked every round, went through two magazines, slapped the back of the slide . . . . to no avail.

About this time I gotta believe the Good Lord was wondering why he was even saving this guy’s butt – he seemed so determined to make his weapon fire, his brain was simply not engaged. Yet, the Good Lord hung in there to allow this fellow to learn his lesson and keep his hand.

The second time back at the bench he finally asked one of the old heads if they had any thoughts. One of our RSOs asked if he could examine the weapon – permission was given and the RSO field stripped the gun. Looking down the barrel . . . . all he could see was darkness! Looking into the chamber, all he could see was the ass end of a .40Cal FMJ ball. The shooter had, indeed, had a squib round. The only thing that saved his hand (other than the Good Lord’s sense of humor) was that the bullet had obviously barely exited the casing before it became lodged. The consensus was that he had forgotten the powder and the charge of the primer was enough to push the bullet out of the casing, but not the barrel. Luckily, is wedged early enough that the next round couldn’t seat properly. If it had, had the next round been fully seated in the chamber with the slide fully closed – the weapon could well have disintegrated when he fired that round. I suspect real damage would have been done to his hands and face. Who knows for sure, but the fellow really “dodged a bullet” . . . . quietly literally.

So what are the lessons?? For me, personally, I knew it was a squib and I could not get the words out fast enough. Gotta work on that.

For him, and all of us learning a new skill set, take some time to learn it well – and use resources around us. There was any number of skilled reloaders at the chapter that would have been willing to teach this guy how to reload reliably. Would that have prevented this from happening? Who knows – but it couldn’t have hurt. Bottom line, when learning new stuff – don’t hesitate to ask someone who’s “been there, done that” . . . .

It might save a hand!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Commentary – After Boston . . . . where are we??


. . . . . we’re in trouble . . . .

I suspect this post could well turn into a rant. I’ll just have to see the final result once my fingers have stopped moving and my thoughts have stopped flowing.

I think the “tea has finally cooled in my saucer” from last week’s violence. My emotions and thoughts have quieted a bit so I believe I’m ready to take a bit more clearheaded look at the events of last week.

So, what came from last week . . . .?

Nothing good came of it . . . . nothing. I’ve read bloggers and friends that have tried to find the silver lining . . . . there isn’t one. Let me attempt to put form and structure to my thoughts. I want to break things up into different areas of concern and what information “Boston” adds to the mix.

The Global War on Terror

First, I wish we’d get rid of the whole GWOT thing. It is NOT a war on terror – it is a war between a murderous Islamic ideology that is intent on dominating the world . . . . and everyone else. It is, IMNSHO, WWIII - simple as that.

The “homeland” for the Islamists extends in a band from western Africa to the Philippines. There are territories that are omitted but it is, by in large, an intact Islamist stronghold. The “capital” is Mecca that resides in a strictly Wahhabist country with strict adherence to Sharia Law. This country is also the financial center of the Islamist expansion throughout the world.

The spread of the Islamist culture has accelerated throughout the “west”. While words of tolerance are spoken in the halls of power – words of power, domination and conquest are preached at Friday prayers. Recent attacks on US diplomats in Benghazi and Afghanistan simply emphasizes the continued distain Islamists have for the US and its “power”.

Over and over I hear the argument that you can’t hold all Muslims accountable for the actions of “a few”. Yet these “moderate Muslims” remain quiet, still, silent – while their brethren slaughter freely worldwide. I have tried to convince myself that their silence is out of fear. I have come to believe that it is because the actions of “the few” are condoned by the vast majority of those following Islam – and its quest for world domination.

We are at war . . . . and yet, after Munich, the Achille Lauro, the Marine barracks, TWA 809, the Cole, Kenya, WTT ’93, 9/11, Benghazi, the fall of Libya, Egypt, Gaza and Lebanon into the hands of the Islamists . . . . to name just a few Islamist attacks that rolled out of my fingers . . . . we still do not understand the battle, the battle field or the combatants. We will continue to pay a high price for our willing blindness . . . .

National Defense

In the words of UBL: “They are the weak horse!” And, we are. Driven by a Democrat party intent of our unilateral disarmament, the majority of or aircraft carriers lay dockside, whole air wings are being grounded, the ranks of all branches are being drastically reduced, training is being curtailed, missile defense systems sidelined, next generation aircraft development underfunded (or misguided), soldiers in the field being stretched to the absolute limit . . . . all the while trying to convince ourselves that the Islamist threat has diminished and continues to weaken. The state of our national defense is pathetic driven by a willfully ignorant ruling class. We will pay a terrible price for our negligence.

Border Security

“Please . . . . come kill us!!” That is the cry sent around the world when I look at our “border” security. And I mean so much more than the US/Mexico border. I include the vast Canadian border, our port system and our immigration system as well. The Boston bombers were known to immigration officials, were known by the FBI, were flagged by the Russians as people we should watch . . . . And yet, out of an abundance of cultural tolerance, excuses were made, investigations dropped, eyes turned away . . . . and people were killed and maimed by the scores. We are vulnerable. We are at great risk. We are weak. Again, this weakness will come at a great price to us all.

Civil Rights

I watched the police take on these guys – and kill and capture them. They lost one of their own. I am sick in my heart that the new networks are filled with stories of these Islamist Terrorists – yet there are only a few passing stories of the scores injured, the three killed and the MIT cop who gave his final measure to his community. My soul hurts.

That said – I can’t remain silent of my fears of the process . . . . the manhunt . . . . the lockdown . . . . and how much damage I believe it did to our civil rights as a nation.

Laws are put in place to provide firm boundaries to our behavior . . . . all of our behavior . . . . civilian, cop, government and military. The cornerstone of our rights as citizens of our nation, the foundation, the core – is the US Constitution. If a citizen breaks a law – they pay a price. If the government breaks the law – should not some price be paid as well??

Where I am going with this is the columns of armored vehicles and armored and well-armed police doing house-to-house searches without the benefit of a search warrant. Enough video and photographic evidence has surfaced to make it clear that our government and the law enforcement officers under their orders willingly violated the 4th Amendment rights of an enormous number of Boston area residents. The obvious argument to this approach is” “Well, it saved lives, didn’t it??” That’s not the purpose of the Constitution. Its purpose is to preserve our rights and liberties as citizens. Not to guarantee our safety. Our rights took a massive hit during that day and a half in Boston. The Boston PD’s actions were defended, applauded, embraced by the media and the country as a whole (I think, time will tell). It established a “new norm” that can easily be referred to the next time a mortal threat is seen in a community. For example: what if Diane Feinstein’s dream comes true and “military style weapons” are banned, registered and confiscated? Yes, yes – I know – we “won that fight”. It’ll be back – over, and over, and over . . . As a nation, we are probably less than 5-30 votes away from this reality on any given day. An attempt will be made once again after the next Columbine or Aurora or Sandyhook or Boston. There will be more of them . . . evil doesn’t rest . . . . the Islamists are clear on their ultimate goal . . . . Then what? When a Governor, or a President or a watch commander gives the command to go door-to-door and “get the guns” . . . . will the cops stand down? Or will that be our Lexington?

I did a post awhile back on decisions made “in the heat of the moment”. The lockdown was one such decision. “Something had to be done.” And shredding the 4th Amendment was stunningly easy. You might want to chew on that a bit.

There has been much talk about the surviving bomber’s (and NO, I WILL NOT USE HIS NAME), Miranda Rights. They were not read and the argument is that he is an “enemy combatant”. That may well be true. He may well have been trained and sent by some Islamist group in Chechnya. And yet . . . . and yet . . . . he IS and American Citizen. Does this now mean that the government can simply point a finger and declare that an individual is an enemy combatant without due process? Let’s reference my above scenario and all “military style rifles” are to be confiscated. If I refuse – could I be declared an enemy of the state? An enemy combatant? Without due process?

It appears that the US government knew much more about these two brothers than we were first told. They had been flagged, warned about, investigated . . . . and they were still granted citizenship. I do not believe it should be so ease to ignore their citizenship just because it’s convenient. I can’t ignore laws that are inconvenient to me – why should the government be able to do so? Why should the Boston PD be able to?

So where are we?

We’re wounded. In our heart, in our soul, in our spirit. We are drifting away from our God given rights, affirmed in our Constitution towards an easy tyranny that ebbs and flows with the happenings of the day.

This is dangerous ground . . . .

Friday, April 19, 2013

Safety - “Da Rules” revisited . . . .


Safety - Two Sets of Rules

As a new shooter enters the world of firearms training, the very first topic that will be covered is that of firearms safety. Learning to properly use a firearm, whether for a shooting sport or for personal defense, is a deadly serious process. There is always an opportunity for a simple mistake with deadly consequences.

Trainers and training organizations have established a common core of rules to help reduce the possibility of a new shooter leaving the range – or a defensive engagement - with an extra hole or two. These rules fall into two broad categories – Rules for the Shooting Sports and Rules for the Defensive (and Offensive) Use of a Weapon.

Rules for the Shooting Sports

I will define “shooting sports” as including the various types of target shooting as well as hunting. The “Gold Standard” when it comes to safety rules for the shooting sports is the NRA – National Rifle Association. They have been conducting firearms training since 1871 and they have developed three simple and concise rules for firearms safety:

1. ALWAYS keep the gun pointed in a safe direction.

2. ALWAYS keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot

3. ALWAYS keep your gun unloaded until ready to use.

ALWAYS keep the gun pointed in a safe direction. A “safe direction” means a direction that – even should you accidently discharge your gun – the possibility of fatally injuring someone or doing large scale damage is minimal. On an outdoor shooting range this direction is typically “down range” (towards the target area) or at the berms that typically surround the range. At an indoor shooting range this direction is typically limited to “down range”.

In your home, all guns for shooting sports would typically be unloaded and stored in a locked gun vault of some kind. Still, even when handling a gun for cleaning, inspection or repair – care needs to be taken to continue to follow Rule 1 and always keep the gun pointed is a safe direction. The work area you use should be oriented in such a way that when you are working with your gun the barrel points in such a direction to insure no people are ever in the line of fire.

This rule – this habit – is the single more important trait to develop when you first begin to handle a firearm.

ALWAYS keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot. Your trigger finger should be thought of as a separate appendage. Its ONLY purpose is to press the trigger. It is NOT part of the grip of the gun. It is NOT part of the mechanics of the hand used to draw your gun from a holster of lift a rifle or shotgun to your shoulder. Its ONLY PURPOSE is to press the trigger. And a shooter only presses the trigger after proper sight alignment and a proper sight picture has been established.

ALWAYS keep your gun unloaded until ready to shoot. Shooting ranges are usually “cold” meaning that you do not load your gun until you are on the firing line or in the shooting box. Should your gun have a detachable magazine, it’s OK to load that away from the firing line. But, never insert the magazine into the gun until you are on the firing line or in the shooting box.

Most NRA instructors will add a fourth safety rule:

ALWAYS be sure of your target and what’s in front of – and behind of – it. Just because you are on a designated shooting range, or in a known are for your hunt, you simply cannot depend on your line of fire being clear of people or unintended targets. You MUST be certain that you have clearly identified your target and that the area between you and the target is clear. And, you must be certain that in the event you miss your target, the area behind your target is clear as well.

These three NRA rules and the typically added fourth are at work every day keeping shooters on the range and in the field safe. But, they are only as effective as you – the shooter – make them. It is YOUR responsibility to follow them each and every time you have a gun in your hand.

Rules for the Defensive (and Offensive) Use of a Weapon

There is an alternate set of rules that are typically used when training a shooter to use weapons for defensive – or offensive – purposes. They were penned by Lt. Col. Jeff Cooper.





Once you cross into the training area where your gun is used for defensive – or offensive – purposes, you will notice that the “tone” changes. The word “gun” is typically replaced by “weapon”. This is done to make it perfectly clear that you have a deadly weapon in your hand and that in this environment its purpose is to inflict harm on another person – either to “stop the threat” in most defensive situations. Or, to take a life in an offensive situation. Few shooters outside of law enforcement and the military ever experience the need to take offensive action.

ALL GUNS ARE ALWAYS LOADED. If you treat every weapon as if it’s loaded, it’s less likely you’ll do something stupid with it. This also encourages you to develop the habit that should you be handed a weapon you will immediately check to make sure the weapon is unloaded and safe to handle.

NEVER LET THE MUZZLE COVER ANYTHING YOU ARE NOT WILLING TO DESTROY. A weapon is a means of destruction. When you point the barrel of your weapon at a person, it means that you are willing to kill that person. Take a moment to think about that statement. While being able to tell your friends that “yep, I carry”, what that truly means is that should the situation arise where you will need to actually draw your weapon and use it to protect yourself, your family or your friends – you may actually have to kill someone. There is never any reason what so ever to point a loaded weapon at anyone unless you are under direct threat and unless you are actually ready to follow through and stop the threat with deadly force.

KEEP YOUR FINGER OFF THE TRIGGER UNTIL YOUR SIGHTS ARE ON THE TARGET. There are two elements to aiming a weapon – Sight Alignment and Sight Picture. Sight Alignment means that the front sight is properly aligned with the rear sight. Sight Alignment means that these aligned sights (or red dot or scope reticle) are resting on the target you intend to destroy. Until this is accomplished – keep your finger OFF THE TRIGGER. In fact, rather than just keeping your finger straight and outside of the trigger guard, make an effort to raise it up well above the trigger guard so there is no doubt at all that your finger is off the trigger. If you have a semi-automatic pistol, I encourage my students to stick the tip of their trigger finger in the ejection port or in that same region of the opposite side of the slide for left handed shooters.

BE SURE OF YOUR TARGET. At the time of this writing, the Vice President of the United States gave some advice to people who were trying to defend themselves during a home invasion. He simply said that if you were afraid someone was trying to break into your home through your door, to just fire a couple of rounds from a shotgun through to door to stop them. I simply cannot imagine worse advice. In most areas of the country, it is blatantly criminal advice. You, as the shooter, are responsible for each and every round you fire from your weapon, regardless of what your intent was. If you are in fear of your life being lost, and you find it necessary to discharge your weapon at the threat – you MUST BE SURE OF YOUR TARGET!

Two different worlds – the world of “shooting sports” and the world of “defensive and offensive shooting”. Yet both sets of safety rules get us to the same place – safe shooters that only aim at and press the trigger to shoot only their intended targets. As a shooter these rules should be part of your life, part of your soul. You, and only you, are responsible for the safe and proper use of your firearm or weapon. You, and only you, are responsible for each and every round that leaves the muzzle of your firearm or weapon.

The safe use of a firearm or weapon is serious business . . . . treat it that way.

Lives depend on it.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Just the Basics – The Flint Lock Rifle


The Flint Lock Rifle was the most advanced firearm of its time. Contrary to what most people think, they were very accurate. The rifle shown here has a 60” rifled barrel firing a 50 Cal round ball with a 70 grain charge of black powder. From a bench rest position, a 4” group at 200 yards is easily achievable. These rifles were the sniper rifles of the Revolution and easily outshot the smooth-bore muskets of the British Army.

The barrels were “swamped” meaning that they were thicker near the breach and the muzzle. Because of the rifle’s length, this was done to help balance it in the shooter’s hand.

You will notice components that are common on today’s rifles – over 200 years later.


The Stock provides the components to grip the rifle, a Comb to lay against the shooters cheek and a Butt Plate to rest against the shooter’s shoulder.

The Patch Box was a compartment carved into the Stock to store an assortment of components needed to keep the rifle in shooting condition. We will cover this separately.

The Trigger releases the Hammer of the Lock and the Trigger Guard prevents the Trigger from being released by passing brush and other random items.

The Rear Sight and Front Sight are used to for sight alignment to insure the accurate placement of the shot. A sight radius of over 4-feet provided for extremely accurate shooting.

The Barrels were manufactured using a number of different methods. They were rifled and swamped to increase accuracy and to help balance the rifle as the shooter carried it.

The Ram Rod was used to push the ball and patch combination down the bore of the barrel.

The Lock is the equivalent of the Action in today’s rifles. It will be covered separately.

Let’s take a look at the contents of the Patch Box and the components the shooter carried with him to maintain his rifle.


The Patch Box Cover protected the contents of the Patch Box. It contained an assortment of items needed to keep the rifle in shooting order.

Cleaning Patches were carried to keep the barrel clean. The shooter commonly cut a patch, spit on it and ran it in and out of the barrel. They used spit to prevent a buildup of powder residue at the bottom of the barrel.

Spare Ball Patches were typically carried along with a spare Ball or two.

Since a Flint is critical to the rifle’s operation, spares were also carried. Each Flint had to be manually napped to fit the Cock Jaws and the Frizzen of the particular rifle.

A spare Flint Leather was also carried. It’s used to hold and protect the flint while it is clamped by the Cock Jaws.

A Flash Hole Pick is used to clean out the Flash Hole insuring the spark generated in the Flash Pan can penetrate all the way to the powder charge. And a Goose Quill was sometimes used to plug the Flash Hole after the rifle was loaded. When the shooter was ready he would remove the Goose Quill, charge the Flash Pan and fire the rifle.

The Action of the day was called a Lock. There were a number of different variations available. The one shown here is called a “Common Lock” and shares the same components that most Locks have.

clip_image006The Flint is wrapped in a Leather strip and clamped between the Cock Jaws. A notch is usually cut out of the center of the fold to allow ease of adjustment of the Cock Jaw Screw. This is what is tightened to firmly hold the Flint is place. The shape of the Flint is napped to fit the Cock Jaws and to insure a solid strike against the Frizzen Face.

The Frizzen is made of steel. As flint strikes steel, flecks of steel are flaked off. The energy used to do this converts the steel flakes to molten steel that is seen as sparks. The trait that allows this to happen is called Pyrophoricity. These sparks strike the Flash Powder that has been poured into the Flash Pan igniting it. Note that the Flash Pan is curved in shape with a curved end as well. This shape helps “roll” the fire into the Flash Hole igniting the primary charge at the bottom of the Barrel.

The shooter typically carried a Powder Horn filled with his primary charge powder and then a separate, smaller flask that was used to pour a primer charge into the Flash Pan. This primer powder typically burned hotter than the primary charge powder to help insure a solid ignition of the primary charge in the Barrel.

The Frizzen had a portion that was used as a Flash Pan Cover. This would allow the shooter to charge the Flash Pan, pull the Frizzen towards the Stock thus placing the Flash Pan Cover over the Flash Pan. When the Trigger was pressed, the Hammer would strike the Flint against the Frizzen Face, pushing the Frizzen backwards, lifting the Flash Pan Cover and allowing the sparks to ignite the Flash Powder. However, attempting to charge the Flash Pan while it was raining, or in heavy morning dew, ran the risk of a damp charge and no ignition.

To counter this, many shooters inserted a Goose Quill into the Flash Hole protecting the primary charge from the dampness. When he was ready to shoot he would remove the Goose Quill, charge the Flash Pan and fire his rifle.

The Frizzen Spring applied the needed tension to firmly hold the Flash Pan Cover in place and provide enough resistance to the Flint to insure enough sparks are generated to ignite the primer charge. The Frizzen Spring Screw allows adjustment of this tension.

A short video will better demonstrate the mechanics of generating a spark to ignite the powder in the Flash Pan.


Flint Lock Spark


The shooter’s powder was typically carried in a Powder Horn. These were usually made from the horn of a steer or ox. They were boiled to soften the inside so it could be removed and cleaned out to hold the powder.

clip_image008The tip of the horn was usually cut off and a Throat inserted to provide a pour Spout. The tip of the horn was then carved to act as a cap to cover the Throat.

A Base was carved to fit into the end of the horn and a Lobe was left to attach a Lanyard to the horn for ease of carry.

The shooter I borrowed this Powder Horn from had carved a Powder Measure from the spike horn of a young deer. It too was boiled and a cup carved that holds exactly 70 grains of black powder. To charge his rifle he pours the powder from the Powder Horn into the Powder Measure and then pours his 70 grains of black powder down the Barrel of his rifle and uses the Ram Rod to ram his Patch and Ball into place.

In today’s vernacular, this was the “Assault Weapon” of the Revolutionary War. The British were marching on the Magazine at Lexington to seize weapons like this along with their musket balls and black powder when Paul Revere made his ride. They have a rich tradition in our nation and if you ever have the chance to shoot such a rifle, take some time to enjoy some of the history of our nation’s earliest shooters and riflemen.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Range Trip - First Rifle Shoot of the Season


One of the things I have taken on is that I am the President of the local Izaak Walton League.  Long story . . . I felt like I kinda “broke” it about 2 years back and felt obligated to “fix” it.  Members have seen fit to reelect me this past year so for better or worse, they are stuck with me.

One of the areas I have put a lot of energy in are the shooting sports.  We have a reasonably good range with five lanes for 50 yard work and 2-3 lanes for 100 yard work.  Among the many observations I have made over the past two years is that when I have seen most rifle shooters out there, and I ask what they were working on – the usual response was:  “I’m zeroing my rifle!”

Over, and over, and over, and . . . .  It kinda drove me nuts.

So, I was determined to have a monthly “Rifle Shoot”.  Nothing tricky.  The course of fire for a “round” would be 5-rounds standing, 5-rounds sitting, 5-rounds kneeling and 5-rounds prone.  We would use a standard 100-yard target.  Any rifle up to a .308 was fine with iron sights, red dot or scope – it’s noted on the score card.  Obviously this isn’t an NRA course of fire (or any other organization’s for that matter), simply a little friendly competition between friends.  The fee is $10 and you can shoot the course of fire as many times as you wish.  There is an identical setup on the 50-yard range for .22 rim fire.

So – tonight was the first night.  Dry . . . . but very chilly, damp ground, overcast and a bit windy.  There were two shooters . . . . me and Ryan . . . . heavy sigh!

Still, there were holes to be made.  I sent 6 rounds down range (in 3-round groups) from a bench rest position using my Panther Arms Oracle .223 and iron sights ONLY!!  Honestly I have a bit of a thing about optics.  I have a scoped .308 and an Eotech on the Oracle . . . . but they just feel like cheating.  So, I typically limit myself to iron sights only.  Here is my bench rest zeroing target:

20130416_172048 The two rounds at the 6-o'clock that are taped are my first hits – one obviously dropped below the paper.  The three circled at the top are my second 3-round zeroing effort.  On paper, 100-yards, open sights . . . . I made no adjustments.









First course of fire, 5-rounds, 100-yards, open sights, standing.  I use a Larry Vickers 2-point combat sling.  I put my support side arm through the sling with it resting on my right shoulder and open the sling wide open.  I take my stance and cinch the sling until I can put about 6 inches of it under my hand grasping the fore grip.  I find this gives me a 5th point of contact – my entire back.  I like it.

That said, I still only had two rounds of 5 on paper for a score of 15.  Heavy sigh.20130416_181707

Next up – sitting.  This is a very stable position and, using the Vickers sling for another point of contact – the stability showed.  One flyer and 4 rounds on paper for a score of 21,  Better!











Kneeling was position number 3.  I gotta say my knees let me know they were NOT happy.  Still, it’s a stable position yet only 3 of 5 on paper for a 13.  Heavy sigh.











Finally – prone.  I was expecting a lot out of this last round.  Very stable position – heck I should “ace” this one.  Sadly, I did not.  It started with a failure to fee the first round out of the magazine.  Slap, rack and I was ready to shoot.  Then, 3-rounds in a double feed!!  WTF???  Drop the mag, lock the bolt back and the rounds just dropped out.  As I was putting them back in the magazine I noticed one had a severe crimp just rearward of the neck.  I suspect it would not have fed – but if it had there may have been an opportunity for a real problem.  Word to the wise – check you rounds if you eject them during a malfunction!!  Anyway, finished the round with a single hit in the rings for a score of 5 but still had 2 others on paper.

My final score card for a single round through all 4 courses of fire looked like this:



54 out of 250 possible . . . 21.6% . . . .

I got some work to do . . . .

Still, I was happy to be out and shooting.  I was happy with my 4-round group for the seated position – it showed my Oracle can shoot . . . . even if I go a bit wobbly!

So why show a crappy set of targets?  They are the only way we learn . . . is my weapon sighted properly, do I have a trigger press problem, doesn’t every instructor shoot max score for 100-yards with iron sights??  It keeps me honest – with you . . . and most importantly, with myself.

Don’t worry about your score – look at your results, work on the fine points of position, how you mount your weapon, your trigger press . . . details, details, details.  No shooter EVER gets better without rounds down range, target observation and persistence.

Go to the range, shoot, compete with your friends . . . have fun!!

Tomorrow’s targets will look better . . .

I hope!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Range Trip – LaserLyte with Springfield 1911


I’ve changed to my Springfield 1911 as my carry weapon and for our steel shoots this year.  A couple of reasons:

  1. I seem to have no problem buying new brass and large pistol primers
  2. I have plenty of powder for the next couple years
  3. I’ve secured enough lead for around 2,200 bullets – that should get me through the year.
  4. Cause I wanna . . . . .

You can see the range log entry for today here . . . .

Some thoughts and observations:

I am more “deliberate” drawing my 1911 than I am with my G17.  This seems to manifest itself in a more distance grip and draw from the holster, a more deliberate rotate/extension/join/safety off and then trigger press.  The result is an average time for 25 draws of 2.25 for a first round hit with one draw that went so badly off the rails I just stopped and reholstered.  The bottom line is about .5 seconds added to my first round hit with the 1911.  That said, I am time is at about the same place as I was the end of December 2012.  Soooo – thinking with my regular LaserLyte range work, my time will come back in line – around 1.7 seconds or so.

Accuracy was fine with the one draw mentioned earlier.  So, 24/25 were combat effect hits.  This was my break from the traditional Monday alligators from the hospitals and nursing homes I sell our software to.  A little breather was needed!

Had your dry fire today?  25 draws a day will work wonders!

Commentary - The Heat of the Moment . . . .


“ . . . . . . I was just so angry . . . .”

“ . . . . . . he was temporarily insane . . . .”

“ . . . . . . I’ve never been that scared – I couldn’t help myself . . . .”

“. . . . . . “I was sssoooooooo pissed . . . .”

Heat of the Moment: done without thought because of anger or excitement.

Anger, fear, excitement – they’re powerful emotions that can play havoc with a person’s mind. The can lead to massive chemical dumps in your body – chemical dumps that effect your ability to think, see, move, breathe . . . . . They are usually generated by an event – an attack, an argument, a memory . . . . They are difficult to anticipate, difficult to control and can easily leave death and destruction in their wake.

That said, you – as a shooter, as an individual practicing the use of a firearm to protect yourself, your family or your friends, as a person who likely carries this firearm on a daily basis – you are expected to be in control of yourself and your weapon at all times. So let’s chat about the “Heat of the Moment” and some of the things you can do to train for it and to help mitigate it.

“THE Moment”

“The Moment” is why I say over and over and over . . . . “Wear your damn gun!!” I live in rural Iowa – probably one of the most secure and safest areas you could live in the US. Still, even we are not immune to the threat of violent criminals, drug gangs, armed robbery or home invasion. The last piece of “clothing” I put on each morning is my weapon and a spare magazine. At night, it’s removed before I go to bed and placed in its home – a drawer near my bed. Every day . . . . without fail. Do I leave my house expecting to be assaulted every day?? Of course not. Is it a possibility?? Yep, as it is for you as you step out of your home and go through your day.

“The Moment” is when you walk into a convenience store expecting to get a hot cup of coffee and find yourself in the middle of a robbery. Or you’re standing in front of your teller at your local bank as a robbery goes down. You’re walking to your car from the big-box store when a couple guys begin to track your movements. You’re sitting in church when a door bursts open and a guy with a shotgun runs in. A quiet evening on the couch with the kids is shattered by a couple guys kicking in your front door.

Or perhaps it’s your “ex” and all the anger, the animosity, the frustration floods your body. The school/office/town bully puts you in their sights and again the verbal assault begins and they do their best to humiliate you! You brain demands action!

“The HEAT” is how you react, how you control your mind and body, what actions you choose. Those that simply surrender to the emotional and chemical demands of the body are the ones that you read about in court. “I was so angry – I couldn’t control myself!” “I was so frightened I just kept blasting away!” “I was just out of control!!” “I was temporarily insane!” Their “Heat” becomes their excuse. These things typically do not end well for the shooter. “The Heat of the Moment” is NOT an excuse for your actions – PERIOD!

So how can you mitigate your body’s reaction to “The Moment”? Your best tool is on-going training. If you have taken a single class – the bare minimum to get a carry permit in your state – and then strapped on a holster and your defensive weapon, chances are things could go sideways on you fairly quickly during “The Moment”. There are a number of solid courses that are offered throughout the country that focus on Close Quarter Combat skills to enable you to react quickly and soundly if attacked. Take one . . . or two . . . . take a course of some type each and every year. Take one that will allow you to learn a new skill set that you can practice on the range after you come home.

Range trips should be scenario based. Work on marksmanship as well as your draw and first round hits. Play scenarios in your mind that covers everything from an unexpected encounter in a parking lot to a bank robbery while you’re standing in line.

Work encounters through in your head. When you are sitting on the couch this evening think about “The Moment” should someone burst through your door. Do you have your gun?? Why not? Where is your safe room? Where is your wife/husband/kid? Do you have your cell on you? Still have that spare magazine in your pocket? Where is the cover in your home?

If you work – NOW – through the possibilities, threats and reactions – should a real threat appear, you already have a plan in place. Will it be perfect?? Nope – BUT it will be a beginning that will take the edge off and help you keep your “Heat” from adding to a bad day.

And lest you think “The Heat of the Moment” applies only to individuals, let’s take a quick look at the results of the Aurora and Sandy Hook shootings. There’s a story told about a conversation between Thomas Jefferson and George Washington after his return from France. Jefferson was curious why the delegates to the Constitution Convention had created the Senate. Washington’s purported response?

"Why did you pour that tea into your saucer?" asked Washington. "To cool it," said Jefferson. "Even so," responded Washington, "we pour legislation into the senatorial saucer to cool it."

The thought at the time was that the “hotheads” would be those elected to the House of Representatives and they would be filtered out every two years by recurring elections if they got out of hand. They would be reactionary, impulsive and their legislation would need tempering.

That became the job of the Senate appointed (at that time) by the governors of each state. These would be the “adults” in Congress tasked with refining and “cooling” the legislation proposed by the House. Since they were not elected – but appointed – they would not fall prey to the demands of the people of their state, but could remain a bit more aloof allowing them to be a bit more rational and not subject to the emotion of “The Moment” and the next election.

A quick review of the actions of the Congress following Aurora and Sandy Hook show the wisdom of the founders and the folly of those that followed. Moving the Senate to the electoral court has turned the “saucer” into the “tea kettle” that is boiling on the stove. The aftermath of Aurora and Sandy Hook has been an attempt to pass broad scale legislation that continues to curtail the Constitutional rights of America’s citizens while doing little or nothing to protect “the children”.

States have not been left out of this “heat of the moment” reaction either with New York, Colorado and Connecticut passing laws restricting the freedoms of the law abiding citizen while having no effect on the criminal that willingly break the law. The shooters at both Aurora and Sandy Hook broke dozens of laws – all quite willingly. It’s estimated that there are over 20,000 gun laws on the books today - a few more will not stop the next theater or mall or park or school shooting. It will simply make the law abiding citizen a bit more unsafe.

“The Heat of the Moment” can affect anyone. It is YOUR responsibility to train, anticipate, speculate and prepare yourself for “The Moment”. You are the only one who can do that. Remember . . . .

You have all the time in the world today to prepare . . . .

Is it time to hit the range tonight???

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Ramblings . . . . Things on my mind . . . .


North Korea: It seems the pudgy little guy may well throw a nuke tomorrow. I can’t see how that could possibly end well. Baring that – I believe he will need to have some kind of cross-border exchange just to keep his creds. If he just makes holes in dirt – I suspect things can be walked back from the abyss. If he makes holes in Seoul . . . or Japan . . . or Guam . . . . things will go down the crapper pretty damn quick. There’s just a bit of a paranoid part of me that wonders if one of the big boys – China in particular – might not use this moment to push a high altitude burst weapon out of orbit over the central portion of the US for it’s EMP burst – and put the blame squarely on North Korea. Or perhaps an all-out cyber-attack – again blaming North Korea. The next few months are going to be a lot edgier than any of us want . . . .

Friends with cancer: 1 in 3 folks get a form of cancer during their lifetime. For a married couple that’s a 66% chance one or the other will be affected. In our marriage – that hit 100% . . . . so far. AGirl posted that it seems her “bump on her head” may well be cancerous. She’s going through the “oh shit” stage as I type. She’s not looking for reassurance that all will be well . . . . so I encourage all to send prayers. That goes a friend of Msgt. B’s and his son . . . . and a family friend whose husband is in his second year of battle . . . . and all the others that fear and fight and win . . . . and loose. Prayers help folks – prayers help.

Follow-on training: I encourage all the folks I train to take some type of training each year. For those who take just the NRA Basic Pistol courses I remind them it is NOT a carry class – yet it exceeds all Iowa training requirements to get their permits. Every once in a while there the comment that goes along the lines of “you just want to sell more training . . .”. Well duh – I have a training company for Pete’s sake! Of course I want to sell training. HOWEVER – if you can’t draw your weapon, if you have no idea how to comfortably carry it each and every day, if you can’t hit a threat from 3-yards, 7-yards, 30-feet, 50-feet . . . . why carry a gun?? Just beg for mercy instead. The VALUE of training is learning new skills that can be used to defend yourself, your family and your friends. Everyone needs some training class each and every year.

Gun Control: Our various federal and state governments continue in their quest to make me a felon. I wonder if the Jews in Germany and the people of China under Mao and Russia under Stalin had the same gut wrenching feeling I have as I read the news. Our ability to keep and bear arms in unique in the world. Their purpose is to defend ourselves from a tyrannical government. A review of the history of our parents and grandparents easily shows that when governments control/register/seize the arms of their populace . . . . things do not end well. I have my “line”. I understand the power of the word “NO!”. And I will not surrender my God given constitutional right . . . . period!

On Granddaughters: Ms. Lucy had her first birthday this past weekend. Her Birthday is actually today! Happy Birthday Ms. L!! Her sisters – Ms. A and Ms. E. provide grandpa and grandma some pretty good entertainment! And they are truly good reminders of the pure joy that life can be. Simple things – a cupcake with a candle, a new ball or truck, a hug and kiss, a “nuggle” with a granddaughter snug on my lap – her head on my shoulder. I forget these things all too easily. I am profoundly grateful they are here to remind me!

Weddings: TheBoy and his fiancĂ© Ms. H are getting married in about 6-weeks. Mrs. B, our daughter, TheBoy, Ms. H and her mom worked out wedding/reception details this past weekend. I was “profoundly disappointed” I could not participate – had a pistol class ya know – “can’t make it”. (stop snickering!!) Again, one of those reminders in life that some things are going well in deed. Mrs. B came home all smiles, details in hand, plans made – a good time was had by all. They make a great couple – each bringing their own strength to the marriage. And, again – I find I am truly blessed.

Enough . . . . I’m starting to sound like an old fart!! Oh . . . wait . . . .

Life is life folks – it’s as simple as that . . . .

Monday, April 8, 2013

Review - NRA Basic Pistol 4/7/2013 Review


I had a great day Sunday with David, Anthony, Jennifer, Gregory and Scot with Scot traveling all the way from Minneapolis!  One nice thing with a smaller class is that there seems to be a bit more time for general discussions, the range “feels” slower when shooters aren’t stacked and a great dose of 60ish weather helped to make this a fun day!

Once class was over most stayed to try the fit of various handguns I brought to the class and to see about some times they could come to the range to try some of them out.  All-in-all a fine time was had by all!

100_1137  100_1138100_1140  20130407_152216

Contrats once again to David, Anthony, Gregory, Jennifer and Scot!!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Commentary – Trust Me . . . .


We have all been listening to the gun debate since the appearance of a man possessed by such a level of evil that he could kill child and adult alike without a moment’s hesitation.

We have all heard the solution . . . . disarm. Forgo semi-automatic carbines, “large capacity” magazines, your weapon with a bayonet lug on its front . . . . just let it go . . . . for the good of the children . . . . let it go . . . . .

What they are really asking is . . . . .

“Trust Me! I can protect you!”

Let’s chat a bit about trust, it’s place in our lives, some of my personal experiences with it and then I want to apply this idea of “trust” to a couple of acts of evil that are being use to bludgeon us all with.

Trust:       a: assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something

                   b: one in which confidence is placed

The sound of the 120mm rockets were deafening. The satchel charge that had just removed a substantial portion of our building’s roof was still ringing in our ears and the B40 rounds striking the runway tower left a sickening feeling in our stomachs as Mike and I ran towards its base looking for the VC that had infiltrated our perimeter and were working us over. The thought of whether either of us could be trusted to cover and protect the other never even appeared as a glimmer of doubt – our trust in each other solid, our determination firm - we hunted. And such is “trust” that is developed in areas where your life may well be in another’s hands. LEOs, firefighters, EMTs, first responders, those who have spent time as “rough” men and women - they have a level of understanding of the word “trust” few ever develop.

Easter dinner is slowly roasting in the oven at our daughter’s home. Mrs B and I are on the living room floor with Ms. L. She is standing firm. But walking??? MMMmmmm, not so much. I have her one hand and she is attempting to step towards grandma – arm out stretched. She is giggling – eyes glinting with a joy only an 11 month old can have – full of trust that as she stretches her arms and learns this difficult skill of walking – grandma and grandpa are there with a sure grip. She instinctively trusts with her soul and her life. The trust of a child is total and absolute.

The troop trailer closes for a final time. Our paddle has been long planned over the winter. Our practice runs complete, food kitted and stored, canoes loaded and a parking lot full of kids/parents/leaders try to get everyone loaded for the 10 hour drive that lies before us. A mom looks me directly in the eye . . . . “You’ll take care of him . . . right?” “Yes Ma’am . . . he’ll be fine. We’ll see you in a week.” At that moment I had pledged my life to this mom. As with Mike three decades earlier – I saw her son as my charge. He would be fine and return in a week – she had my life on it. The trust placed in a leader – be it a scout leader, platoon leader, an EMT, a police officer – is a sacred trust. A true leader takes all risks into account, examines the objective, the orders given and then leads in a way that provides the best possibility for survival. The trust given becomes a responsibility of the individual accepting it.

The trust of a soldier, a grandparent, a scouter – a few examples that help define what I mean when I say the words – “you can trust me”. That word has depth and breadth and fiber. What are our politicians asking of us with all this rehashed gun legislation?? “Trust us. We do not believe YOU can be trusted with a carbine or a magazine with more than “x” number of rounds. Place your trust in us instead, we will protect you.”

Three different examples.

August 20th, 1999 – 5 years after the enactment of the 1994 assault weapon ban went into effect. Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold executed their plan attack their high school and kill as many of their classmates and teachers as they could. Using a pump action 12 gauge shotgun and a 9mm carbine with 13 10-round magazines they wounded and killed over 30 people. “Reasons” that sound all too similar to recent events were thrown about – they were bullied, they were heavily medicated, they played violent video games and watched violent movies. Yet, under all of these “reasons” – it was simply an evil act conducted by evil men. Period. The real tragedy here – in my eyes – is that the federal government and state governments demanded – by law – that Columbine High School trust them to protect the students. They made it a criminal offense for a parent, teacher or school administrator to have the tools available to defend their charges and instead said – “trust us”. Over 30 dead and wounded victims show in the starkest possible terms that their trust was sadly misplaced.

The evening of July 20, 2012 found a theater full of friends and family anxiously awaiting the premier of the latest Batman movie. James Holmes was excited for an entirely different reason. This would be his opportunity to become a villain – a real life villain. Armed with a carbine (and, gratefully, a defective 100 round magazine), a shotgun and a .40 caliber handgun and but 15 minutes time - he killed twelve and wound around 60 more. This was all done behind the safety and protection of a “No Firearms Permitted” sign prominently displayed at the entrance of the theater. Once again federal and state politicians said the words – “trust us, we will protect you”. However, James easily proved that true evil cares little for stern words. Again, those within the theater found their trust misplaced.

Finally, Sandyhook. A walking example of pure evil carrying a carbine and 9 - 30 round magazines along with semi-automatic pistols shot his way into an elementary school killing 6 staff and 20 children. These victims were again protected by signs and locked doors. Their parents and love ones were asked to trust local, state and federal politicians as signs were dictated, door locks installed and drills were conducted. These steps would keep the children safe. These people were trusted by the victims and the families of Sandyhook. Yet again – a trust sadly misplaced.

Today, months after Sandyhook and over a decade after Columbine we hear the same mantra over and over and over . . . .

“Trust us; we will protect you and your children.” All that is needed is that we surrender our weapons, our magazines, our constitutional rights to the government. All that is needed is that we place our lives, our wellbeing and those of our children in the hands of the government and their laws against our right to keep and bear arms. Once we are disarmed . . . . once our ability to defend ourselves is gone . . . . then evil will stand down. Then the James Holmes’, the Erick Harris’, the Dylan Klebold’s and the evil that walked the halls of Sandyhook will stop their violence, end their killing and leave us all in safety.

“Trust Us” . . . .

Have we not learned our lesson . . . .?

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

A quick welcome to John . . .


A new friend has hopped on board – John of “the rest of me”.  Welcome, thanks for clicking the “follow” button.  Please, jump in and share your thoughts!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Training - Spring Training!!!


Opening day of the 2013 baseball season – about time!!! If you have followed some of my blog posts or Facebook posts – you quickly realize it’s been a very long and very chilly winter this year. And, I will confess that feet of snow and sub-zero temps has done quite a bit to keep me off the range. (let’s not even talk about the availability of ammo!!)

So, while it’s taken a bit of time – temps are supposed to nudge the 60s this week so, as with the “boys of summer”, it’s time for some “spring training”.

Where to start . . . where to start . . . .???? Some thoughts:

The Basics:

I want to take this from a personal defense POV – things to work on to bring your skill set up to speed if they have diminished a bit over the winter due to fewer range trips. So let’s start with the basics.


As I have said before, I am fond of “Law Enforcement Targets”. In particular I like the following two.

clip_image002 clip_image004

In the event you don’t want to use these types of targets – a large sheet of cardboard with 6in paper plates and/or 3x5 cards will work just as well. Number them for ease of scoring.

Both provide a range of target options as well as a good silhouette for defensive drills. I use the triangles for marksmanship drills at 3 yards, the circles for 7 yards and the squares for 10 yards or 50 ft., depending on how much I want to push myself that day.

I typically use my .22/45 for marksmanship drills. I do not find the difference in touch and feel to be significantly different enough to warrant using higher priced ammo for these drills.

I begin at the 3 yard line and engage each triangle with 20 rounds each, slow fire. Each course of fire is shot from the low-ready. I focus on my stance, grip, sight alignment, sight picture and trigger press. I work on breathing through the course of fire with about a 2-second pause at the bottom of my exhalation. Easy, smooth, consistent trigger presses. No need to hurry.

Just as a reminder – after a winter’s slow down, take extra care with your range safety. While range work may well be a common occurrence during the warmer months – time away can diminish anyone’s skills. Remember your “4-Rules” and practice them diligently.

Date your target, list the caliber of handgun you are using. When you have completed each shape, score it. Use a bold marker so it’s easily visible. One point for within the boundary of the target – none for any round outside. Write the score and the distance next to each shape. Start with the triangles from 3 yards, circles from 7 yards and finally the squares at 10 yards or 50 feet – your choice. 20 rounds for shape, 6 shapes . . . 120 rounds total for this portion of the exercise.

Once this is complete, all shots fired, all shapes scored – take an image of it with your cell phone. It can be a great training aid as you move through your range work. Finally, tape the target. I just use a cheap roll of ½ inch masking tape. Tape ALL holes, not just those around the shapes. When you’re done with this you are ready to move to the real work.

Primary Defensive Pistol Work – Low Ready:

With the “rust” shaken off (I do this particular warm up for every dedicated defensive pistol range trip), it’s time to move to your primary defensive weapon – from the low ready.

Keeping in mind the risks that arise with a timer (it can become more important to push the shot rather than making the shot), there is value in having a random tone begin each course of fire.

Again, I start at the 3-yard line with 10 rounds. From the low-ready, at the sound of the timer put 2-3 rounds in the triangle for a head shot. If you mix the round count through multiple magazines you can also add in some speed reloads as well. Clear all malfunctions as needed.

The next 10 round course of fire is from the low-ready at the 7-yard line. Use the same process and engage the square that is at center mass.

The final 10 rounds are from either the 10-yard line or the 50 foot line – your choice. Again, from the low ready – 2 or 3 rounds for each timing event. Total round count – 30 rounds.

This would complete your warm-up. Score your target as above and take an image for future reference. Then – tape your target.

Primary Defensive Pistol Work – From the Holster:

Finally – you’re ready for the core of your training – defensive engagements. A couple of reminders. Clear your clothing. Make sure shirts/blouses are properly tucked in. Make sure the holster is clear and that you are wearing a sturdy belt designed to support a weapon. With an empty weapon (check it THREE times), do some dry fires. Work on a clean grip, draw, rotation, joining, extension, sight picture and trigger press. For the 3-yard and 7-yard distances, work on a “metal on meat” sight picture – the center of the rear of your weapon in the middle of the meat of your target. Work your draw until you have worked out the kinks from the winter. As for re-holstering . . . . remember . . . . YOU HAVE ALL THE TIME IN THE WORLD TO PUT YOUR WEAPON BACK IN THE HOLSTER. Take your time.

Once this is done step to the firing line and repeat the exercise that you did above for your primary defensive weapon - 10 rounds on the triangle in the head from 3-yards, 10 rounds center mass from 7-yards and 10 rounds on the lower square from 10-yards. The difference this time is that each time the timer sounds you draw, fire 2 or 3 rounds and then re-holster. You could also mix the round count between multiple magazines to force speed reloads. Finally – clear malfunctions as the occur. Total round count – 30 rounds.

When you’re finished, score your target and take your final image.

Before you leave – clean up. Check your weapon – THREE TIMES, make sure the magazine is out, chamber is clear and all magazines are empty. Police up your target and brass – as the scouts always say “leave the site cleaner than when you found it”.

Obviously, these are my thoughts and this accurately describes a typical range session for me. Once the “rust” is off, I will go straight from the .22 marksmanship drills to the 60 rounds – from a holster draw, skipping the low-ready work with my primary defensive weapon.

Bottom line – you must work on your skill set. Range time is simply a necessity and this is but one option.

Please – share yours in the comments!!