Tuesday, July 26, 2011

No Sale: A note to sales "professionals".

Dear Sales "Professional",

Today you did not make a sale.  I thought you might like some insight as to why you lost your sale and/or commission.  Please select the situation that applies specifically to you:
  • The shiny, green John Deere diesel tractor in the barn was purchased from another dealer after the third time you referred to my wife as "honey" and after the fourth time she asked you a specific technical question that you ignored or provided the answer to me.
  • When my wife asked you to show her the Smith and Wesson M&P45 and you told her it was probably too much gun for a lady because it really "kicks", she only smiled because she was thinking about giving you a kick in the head with the butt of her Colt 1911 .45.
  • Please don't tell my wife "your husband can take care of that" when she asks how to adjust the rear-shock pre-load on a Yamaha V-Star 1300 cruiser she had considered purchasing from you.
I hope this serves to enlighten you as to why your card hit the garbage can as we left your business.


The Husband of an Intelligent, Sexy, Sassy, and Educated Redhead

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Holster Box.

If you've been regularly carrying a handgun for any length of time, there is a good chance that in the gun room or at the back of a closet somewhere you will find The Holster Box.  The Holster Box (or in my case, a box and a plastic tub) is the repository (from my past 30 years of owning handguns) of all those holsters you've tried and didn't like, holsters for handguns you no longer own, worn out holsters, or some holsters that you feel just aren't as good as your newest holster.

So, why do we keep these holsters around and what should we do with them?  Sometimes you're not sure if you might change your mind about a particular holster.  Occasionally, you'll find a friend who loves that holster you hate.  With a bit of business sense and stealing the concept from a children's clothing store, I've often thought someone should open a retail establishment called, "Once Upon a Gun Belt" so all those holsters and other slightly used firearm accessories could be put to good use by other folks.

For me, my holster box was created as much by what I like as it was by what I didn't like.  When I was in law enforcement, I must have reconfigured my duty belt a dozen different times trying to get just the right holsters, items, and positioning to access all of the hardware we had to carry, while not crushing the radio with the cruiser door, or catching the holster on the seat belt or radio console when you exited the vehicle.  For off-duty in the old days and more recently, concealed carry, I've tried dozens of holsters for dozens of guns.  I'm not sure I have ever found the perfect combination, but I've found a few that work for me.

The Galco Cop 3-Slot holster is one of my preferred holsters for semi-autos.  It is made of quality leather, covers the trigger, hugs my pudgy waistline comfortably and closely to keep "printing" to a minimum while allowing me to adjust the angle of the holster with the three slots.  I like the thumb-break retention system and having the action fully covered.  Also, I can use same the Cop 3-Slot holster for both my Ruger SR9 and SR9c, and they are almost the same as the one for my Colt 1911.

I have various Kydex and injection-molded holsters from several manufacturers like Uncle Mike's, Fobus, and Comp-Tac.  While I love the Kydex holsters for open carry around the house or barn, most of my outside-the-waistband (OWB) Kydex holsters, both paddle and belt-slide, stick out further than the Galco Cop 3-Slot holster and cause more of a "bulge" or "print" for concealed carry, even with the gun-guy-cliche' fishing or photographers vest.  Some companies are now using a combination of Kydex and leather to keep leather against your skin.

For a small semi-auto pistol or revolver, I prefer a quality inside-the-waistband (IWB) holster.  Leather is the preferred material for me as nylon and other "cloth" materials tend to develop an odor after a while from your body's perspiration no matter how much you try to clean them.  Leather seems to "air out" for me.  The Galco, Bianchi, Triple K, and other quality holsters I've tried with good belt clips, with or without thumb snaps, have held up well over time.

Some folks prefer an IWB holster that stays open and doesn't fold flat for easy re-holstering.  I've got some that stay rigidly open and others that flop flat after you draw the firearm.  I'm not that locked into either type.  I do like the soft Bianchi and Galco IWB leather holsters, although they flop flat after drawing my gun.  I just remove the holster from my belt, re-holster the gun, and then slip the holster and gun back inside the waist band.  I know some will emphasize the importance of easy re-holstering, but in a concealed carry situation where you have to draw your gun, I'm more concerned about drawing it easily and reliably from a comfortable holster than quickly re-holstering the gun.  If you're shooting IDPA or something similar, then a "flop-flat" holster isn't going to work for you.

Speaking of comfort, if you carry every day (and you should if you carry at all, in my opinion) you will quickly find out which holsters work well, wear well, and are comfortable.  You'll likely go through several holsters until you find the one that works best.  Comfort is important so you'll wear your gun without hesitation, and you'll minimize the "concealed carry fidgets" that new concealed carry folks or people with new holsters tend to get.  In the past, I've often chuckled inside during a concealed carry course or handgun course where some loud-mouth, opinionated secret squirrel's gun and holster have rubbed him raw, sometimes to the point of bleeding after a three-day course.  If your carry rig is not comfortable, you won't wear it, so find one that works for you.

One option to a traditional holster you may want to consider is a fanny pack or man-bag, or if you're my wife, a concealed carry purse.  Sometimes I carry in my man-bag, a Maxpedition Versipack Jumbo.  If your situational awareness alerts you to a concern, you can slip your hand into your Versipack's concealed carry compartment.  I can actually have my arm at my side, discretely slide my hand into my Versipack's gun slot, have my gun in my grip, and be completely concealed in the Versipack and never have anyone ever notice.

With guns and holsters, the one thing I always recommend to my concealed carry students as an NRA instructor here in Ohio is practice, practice, practice.  You'll develop muscle memory and habits and I believe consistency in practice is important, which is why I recommend even if you carry different guns, try to stay with a holster design that is consistent from gun to gun.  If you switch to a new holster, then practice, practice, practice.  You can easily practice drawing and dry-firing your gun at home - just check to make sure it's unloaded (check three times, is my rule) before dry-firing.

And if you're interested, I have a few things I prefer when looking for a new holster.  The trigger MUST be fully covered.  I prefer leather for any part of the holster that is against my skin which is why some of the new Kydex IWB holsters that use leather against the body are intriguing to me.  Holsters should fully cover the body-side of the gun and keep the beavertail or hammer spur from rubbing my skin raw.  Most holsters designed for competition don't seem to be well suited for concealed carry.  Avoid gadgets and "trick" holsters.  There is a new "bra" holster out which makes my gal cringe as she doesn't like the idea of having the muzzle cover one of the "twins".  I also tend to agree with many in the blogosphere that any holster that requires you to push a button in the same basic location as the trigger with your trigger finger should be avoided out of safety logic.

Your thoughts and suggestions on holsters or holster boxes in the comment area would be appreciated, because I'm always learning something new or about new products.  I've talked about what works for me, but that doesn't mean I've tried everything.  The Holster Box is full of expensive lessons learned.

The last thing I might leave you with on this subject is that holsters, like any equipment, need proper care, adjustment, and when worn out... they need retired... to The Holster Box.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Five-Bucks: Plastic Fork Target Stands

If you're looking for an inexpensive target stand to test your marksmanship skills, use with your 4H Shooting Sports kids, or you want to test your skills as a sniper... you just can't beat the plastic fork target stand.  While you can use note cards for targets and even stick on a three-inch Shoot-n-See target, don't forget 4x6 pics of the jerk who dumped you or a local zombie photo work well too (remember, no people or human-form silhouettes for 4H Shooting Sports).  My gals like to play card games.

You can play your own version of Black-Jack or Five-Card-Stud, call for a card in Go Fish, or just shoot for the high score.  

Sometimes we just stick the forks in the ground, or in the crack of an old fence post.  If you want to be a little more formal about it, you can build a wood base... get an eight-foot piece of the female APC White Ceiling Grid Component from Lowe's or Home Depot.  Individual pieces are about five-bucks, tack it down to an old board, and stick a fork in it - you're done!  We cut our boards to about thirty-two inch lengths (that's three from an eight-footer).

If you want to test the sniper inside of you, just put your targets (small ones, 'cause if you're a sniper... you don't need a big target... right?) in the plastic fork target stands and place them out at varying distances or in different locations on your range or in your woods.  You can use the wood base or just stick them in the ground.  Maybe you can pick-off the five of diamonds without any collateral damage.  

If you end up shooting your target stands, who cares, you can get 150 in a box for $1.98.  Just don't forget to clean up the pieces when you're done... it's polite to clean up after yourself and it's OPSEC.  Oh, and my gal tells me if you want black "tactical" plastic fork target stands... they're available, but it'll cost you a couple of dollars more.

Go ahead and try it... and if you don't like it, you're out... like... five-bucks.

Remember to follow the gun safety rules, check beyond your target, and have fun!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Greatest Generation is minus one.

My dad, "Pa", was born in 1925.  He grew up in Fall River, MA during the depression.  "Pa" enlisted in the Coast Guard in 1943; chased German U-boats with depth-charges in the Atlantic on the USCGC Jackson as a sonar man - third class in addition to manning a three-inch gun when under attack; and was one of just nineteen sailors who survived three days at sea after the Jackson sank while defending a torpedoed liberty ship against U-518 during the Great Hurricane of 1944.

That is "Pa" on the wing of a Vought Kingfisher with some of his surviving shipmates.  The Kingfisher pilot and observer spotted the survivors at sea, landed, and waited with them for a ship to arrive to transport them back to Norfolk, VA.  I believe the photograph was taken from a navy blimp.

After recovering from injuries and dehydration, he volunteered to head for the Pacific and served with USCG Air-Sea Rescue units picking up and recovering downed pilots in the Leyte Gulf and waters around the Philippines where he remained until after the war.  "Pa" was honorably discharged in 1946 after serving three and a half years, receiving the American Campaign, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign, Philippine Liberation, and Victory ribbons.

Completing his doctorate in American history via the GI Bill, "Pa" became a college professor, married a farm gal from Ohio, published books and articles, saw his first son follow in his footsteps as an educator, helped his second son become a dentist, and eventually retired as a Distinguished University Professor in Ohio.  In retirement, "Pa" continued to research, write, and present... honoring and respecting American history as it should be while debunking the politically-corrected, revisionist history of the last few years.

"Pa" loved his country and his family.  He was never a wealthy man in the worldly sense, but he took care of his family and friends never asking for anything and giving generously to others of his time and earnings while enjoying following his favorite team, the Boston Red Sox, and playing with his dog.  That can-do, start with nothing, pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps "American Pride" of his lives on in his sons and granddaughter.

If you asked him about what he did in his life or the war... he'd tell you he hadn't done anything special... at least nothing anyone else wouldn't have done.  He passed peacefully last night surrounded by his family.

Today, The Greatest Generation is minus one.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Two kinds of folks.

Liberals and conservatives, democrats and republicans, progressives and traditionalists, rich and poor, haves and have-nots, city-slickers and hillbillies...

In my view there are basically two kinds of folks... those that want the freedom to take care of themselves and those that want taken care of.  I'm just getting tired of the latter continually trying to limit the means, ability, and opportunity of the former.

If you want to use 911 as your primary tool to resolve an unfortunate situation, that is fine... just don't limit my means, ability, or opportunity to use .308 or .223 as my tool to resolve an unfortunate situation.

Let there be light.

And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. ~Genesis 1:3

One thing for sure out where we live, the power company ain't God.  We have a half-dozen momentary power failures or brown-outs per month and have extended power outages at least two or three times each year.  We spent almost 72 hours without power earlier this week, two days of which the weather service issued heat advisories.

Over the years we've purchased a lot of different flashlights and lanterns to keep things lit up.  The old Coleman florescent lantern eats D-size batteries like candy.  The propane camping lanterns aren't safe indoors and are bulky to transport and store.  Candles are OK, but I've found there are modern variations of the old wax and wick like the little candle lantern that work great.  When it comes to flashlights, I'm kind of a flashlight hoarder.

My experiences with various flashlights over the years have led me to my three favorite brands consisting of Maglite, Streamlight and Surefire.  You can't hardly go ten steps around here without a flashlight close at hand.  We've been swapping out the old Maglites and Surefires over time for the LED versions.  The Streamlight TLR-1s weapon lights have proven reliable for us and we have those on several firearms.  Just remember to not use them for general illumination as you are pointing your muzzle at whatever you are illuminating.

There are Maglites and Surefires in the barn, house, garage, cars, truck, motorcycles.  We tend to prefer the 3-AA and 3-D battery LED Maglites and G2/G2X series from Surefire.  We've been very pleased with their reliability and relatively inexpensive costs to purchase and operate.  I even used a Maglite 3-AA flashlight for a hitch-pin to pull the hay wagon once.  Not sure the dents and dings are covered under warranty, but it's still in the toolbox and working fine.

Traditional candle light is still not out of the question, but we prefer the UCO Candle Lanterns.  They are compact, safe, and easy to hang with the built-in hanger or set on a table.  We picked our first one up at Walmart a few years back and now have several.  I timed how long the nine-hour candles lasted during the recent power outage and one lasted over ten hours and the other lasted almost eleven hours.  That will give you some basic area light in your home for the entire night.

There is a large, 4000-watt Briggs & Stratton powered generator out in the barn we still use occasionally.  It weighs about 130lbs and pull-starting the loud, vibrating beast isn't easy for the Gals.  Over time, as finances allowed, we picked up a pair of Yamaha EF2000iS generators.  They use an inverter to produce the AC, so it has a near perfect sine wave and is safe for all the computers and electronics on appliances which is just about everything these days including the refrigerator.  The Yamaha's only weigh 44lbs each, are VERY easy to pull start, are extremely quiet, and best of all, you can get a kit to connect the two together and basically have a 4000-watt system.

During our recent three-day power outage, we used one of the Yamaha EF2000iS generators to run our refrigerator/freezer, two fans, rotate the charging of the laptops and cell phones while only filling the 1.1 gallon gas tank every ten to twelve hours or so.  That's less than 2.5 gallons of gas to run for 24 hours and we ran that little generator for almost 70 hours straight.   The older generator in the barn has a five-gallon tank that needs filled three-times every 24 hour period.  The Yamaha's are a bit pricey, but they have been worth the expense for us and the Gals can carry and start them with ease.

We have neighbors with a huge $1000 chest freezer in their garage who lost around $600 of frozen food.  If you have that much invested out here in the country, you better pick up generator.  One thing about traditional canning of vegetables and jerking meat, you don't need electricity to preserve it, but that is a discussion for another day.  So, I guess I'll just leave you with one thought:

Are you ready if the power goes out for two or three days?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Fair Food and Fixin's.

It doesn't really matter what kind of food you like or what diet you're on, out here in the country during fair week it is your patriotic duty to partake of the fair food.  It may be over-priced, over-sweetened, and/or over-cooked, but mmmmm-mm, once a year it sure is good.

Where else can you get a more battered-up, deep-fried, salt-spreaded, cheese-slathered, ketchup-covered, high-dollar cholesterol boost than at the county fair? Besides, at these prices we'll be stimulating the economy faster than the BATF can move guns into Mexico.

You can get Hobo Steaks, Tacoritos, Corn Dogs, Coney Dogs, Chili Dogs, Chicken Burgers, Pork Nachos, Fried Cheese, Blooming Onions, and just about any deep-fried vegetable or critter you can imagine. Not a whole lot of cuisine for vegans and most of the vegetarians at the fair are on four-legs in various pens around the fair grounds.

If the more traditional chicken and steak sandwiches are not really what you're looking for, and since it's five o'clock somewhere, we always have some intoxicated poultry on hand.

When you're finished and need something a little bit soothing for your sweet tooth, there's cotton-candy, flavored and shaved-ice, ice-cream, home-made pie, funnel-cakes, elephant ears, and of course my favorite - caramel-candied apples.

Oh, don't forget to visit the animal exhibits at the fair to catch a glimpse of next year's fair food.

Ya'll come back, ya hear!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Violence at the county fair.

Our county fair is underway and as I meandered through the goat barn, a young boy bent over to fill the feed bucket for his goats when one of his 4H projects promptly head-butted him in the butt.  After witnessing such a hilarious... er... ahh... tragic event, I began to wonder:

Should goat dealers be required to sell goat locks to reduce goat violence?

We must band together in a show of strength to eliminate the goat-show loophole as soon as possible.  Alert the New York Times.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

A little less talk and a lot more action.

If you're a little less country and a bit more rock-n-roll, Elvis would have said, "A little less conversation, a little more action please."  When I started this blog, I decided to focus on writing about some of my favorite things in life. My intent is to generate original content of things that interest me and if any of you find something useful, all the better. While my goal is to post at least twice each week, I've got far too many other irons in the fire to make this a daily gig... and I like to spend a lot of time with my gals and shooting.

Since we are both in the teaching business, summer is a great time for my family to catch up on the many things that may have been shoved to the back burner all year.  I also serve on the county 4H committee and volunteer, along with my wife, as an advisor for our county's 4H Shooting Sports club. This week is our county fair and that keeps my gals and I pretty busy for seven days straight.  I'm very proud of my (just turned sixteen) daughter who took first in Senior Rifle during the pre-fair 4H Shooting Sports judging at our local gun club and range. She heads to the Ohio State Fair in August.

One of the other things I've been working on this summer is improving the hardware on our shooting range out back behind the barn.  I'm blessed with a wife who loves to shoot too, so getting the OK to put a covered, concrete firing line on the back of our barn when it was built a few years ago was pretty easy.  We call it the "shootin' porch".  It's great for having fun and regular practice with our firearms and bows, making some noise with shootin' buddies, introducing shooting to folks, or teaching the occasional NRA Basic Pistol/Ohio "CCW" course.

Over time we keep making improvements to the range here and there, mostly improving upon things to shoot at, practice with, and improve our skills.  My gal gave me (us) a Do-All Automatic Trap a couple of years back for our anniversary and it sure beats cocking that manual-reset trap.  We've also acquired some large plastic barrels to set up various scenarios.  We're not quite to Hickok45's target collection, but I've been welding up some new brackets and stands for some steel targets we've been trying out and I'll have a full post on those in the near future.

So until then, enjoy your summer, shoot safe, and if you're squeezing in a motorcycle ride here and there like we do, ride safe too!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

First-Aid and Thinking Ahead with Guns.

Disclaimer: I am not an expert regarding first-aid, thinking ahead, or guns.  I just try my best.  The following is just my observations, opinions, and thoughts.

After working on this post and shelving it in the drafts, I decided to dust it off after a recent video (PG-13 warning) made its rounds through the gun-related blogosphere.  I have yet to shoot myself and I don't have enough life insurance to make it worthwhile for the wife to shoot me, but I appreciated his sharing the negligent discharge with others for learning and safety purposes.

Pappy's safety rules when we went out hunting or plinking around the farm or woods were pretty simple years ago, "if any of you shoot yourselves, your brothers, your sisters, or your cousins... somebody's gettin' the switch, and if you shoot the dog, don't even come home!" What can I say, I am the descendant of farmers and educators which has engrained preparation, preparedness, and continual life-long learning into my very being.

In a previous post about fundamentals, the safety rules were discussed.  Regardless of how safe we are, anytime we are around guns, or people - including ourselves - there is a chance for injury from our environment, ourselves, others, and of course... the guns.  Sometimes you can try to do everything just right and a negligent discharge or something beyond your control such as an accidental discharge (hat tip to Shootin Buddy and Geodkyt), Barney in the next lane over at the range, or Bubba in the woods while hunting can ruin your entire day... or life.

When it comes to first-aid, there are as many opinions on this topic as there are opinions on guns.   I had my original first-aid training as a boy scout growing up, then additional training in the police academy, and beyond that I've taken and re-taken several different Red Cross courses, a wilderness survival/first-aid course, and a Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC) Course.  I've tried to keep my CPR updated, although we're pretty much to just pumping on the chest and forgetting the rescue breathing thing these days (that was tongue-in-cheek folks).  I've also had Automated External Defibrillator (AED) training.  I hope to pursue EMT training at some point, but I only have 27 hours a day to get everything done.

First-Aid Training:

If you've never had any first-aid training, you might start by checking into local Red Cross classes, the American Heart Association, or area hospitals for basic first-aid training.  Often local community colleges or career centers offer first-aid, EMT, and even paramedic training opportunities.  Some military bases offer first-aid and TCCC courses too.  While Advanced Trauma Life Support (ATLS) training is typically available to those in the medical profession such as paramedics, nurses, and doctors, you might look into it if you're continuing your education.  There are also many options available for us regular folks like TDI's Field Emergency Medicine course, Gunsite Academy's Emergency Medical Preparedness course, or Magpul Dynamics' Medical courses.

You might even encourage your local range or club to host some first-aid training. The more training you have, the better off you'll be if a need ever arises and don't discount basic courses in first-aid, CPR, and AED as that level of knowledge has applied to most of the situations I've run across at the range or while hunting like slide-bites, heart-attacks, cuts, scrapes, and twisted ankles.  And don't forget to involve your children, they may be your only aid.  My daughter completed the Red Cross Basic First-Aid and CPR course, passing their written test with a perfect score, as part of a 4H first-aid project when she was only eleven years old.

First-Aid Kits, Equipment, and Supplies:

A friend of mine who is a trauma-certified E.R. doctor once told me, "If you're ever in a situation requiring medical care, no disrespect to the police, firefighters, or paramedics, but YOU are the first responder!"  The rest of the professionals typically only show up after someone on the scene has called them.  So if you are the first responder to your situation, what did you bring with you?

Now without going into a topic for another day, I'm a bit of a prepper so you'll rarely find me or my gals without our bug-out bags (BOBs) nearby with first-aid supplies, but additionally we have various first-aid kits and supplies in every vehicle, on the tractor, in the house, in the barn, in each of our desks at school (work), in my Every-Day-Carry (EDC) man-bag (Maxpedition Jumbo Versipack) and of course... in my range bag.

While you can put your own kits together, I usually start with purchasing a kit and then supplement as needed. Some of the best kits I have found are the various offerings by Adventure Medical Kits and Tactical Medical Packs (TMP) with QuikClot for gunshot wounds and serious bleeding (sometimes known as "blowout" kits).  The TMP kits are vacuum-packed and made to fit in a standard ACU/BDU pocket to be easily carried on-person by police, military, or mall-ninjas.  I'm sure others might have good suggestions in the comments area about supplies, kits, and recommendations.

The types of kits and supplements I add depends on their location and use.  In my EDC man-bag, you'll find a small first-aid kit and a TMP Tac-Pack QC along with extra band-aids, Tylenol, and ibuprofen.  I'm amazed as a college professor and 4H advisor how many band-aids I hand out, let alone college students needing something for headaches, usually right before an exam or project deadline.

In the range bag I keep an Adventure Medical Kits Hunter first-aid kit, a TMP Tac-Pack QC, a TMP Battle Pack, and two QuikClot 50 gram Sports packs.  Most hunter first-aid kits include some type of "trauma wad" for you to use when applying pressure for significant hemorrhages (bleeding).  I have supplemented my range-bag first aid kit with a LED Surefire flashlight, insect repellent, sunblock, and also extra band-aids, extra trauma wads, non-latex gloves, Tylenol, ibuprofen, and anti-septic wipes.  The TMP Battle Pack includes a one-handed tourniquet in case you're by yourself.  The QuikClot will stop bleeding quickly, but I would not use it for minor injuries. 

Some folks took me to task recently about a comment I left on a blog recommending QuikClot because they alleged it caused tissue damage, but that information is long out-dated as QuikClot changed their product back in 2006.  QuikClot sponges that are readily available to consumers currently use a kaolin-based sponge to stop the bleeding and it does not generate the heat which was a problem in original zeolite-based QuikClot used by the military.  You'll notice a warning that the sponges are not for internal use, but that is just for FDA approval as a product to be used internally would have many restrictions and you wouldn't be able to just purchase it over-the-counter like at REI or Cabela's. I mention this to remind everyone to check your information and your sources.  Even a medical professional can provide out-dated or inaccurate advice if they have not stayed on top of current information and training.

In each of our vehicles you'll always find more first-aid supplies, often a BOB, extra blankets, duct tape, bottles of water, plastic ponchos, and various other supplies.

Thinking Ahead:

Thinking ahead is one of the most critical, yet overlooked parts of safety and first-aid.  Here is a list in no particular order, of things you should ponder when thinking ahead...
  • Have a plan and let people know your plan.  
  • Try to never go shooting or hunting alone.
  • Let someone know where you are going and when you plan to return.
  • If you have any allergies, diabetes, or medical conditions, let someone know and wear your medical alert bracelets or neck-chains.  Allergic to bees? Keep your kit with you.
  • Always have your cell phone with you (a must in my opinion for CCW), and check to make sure you have a signal as some of us who live two miles south of the middle of nowhere have a very weak or no signal on our cell phones.
  • Know the address, coordinates, and/or description of where you are at - include it in your plans and info you leave with family or a friend.
  • Know the emergency numbers for your area. 911 might work in civilization, but at our local gun club, 911 from a cell phone goes to the Ohio State Highway Patrol, which then tries to figure out which police, fire, or sheriff's department to transfer you too.  Better to have the correct number for the right first-responders in your area with you.
  • Have identification on you at all times.
  • Duct tape has endless possibilities under any circumstance.
  • Check the weather forecast and prepare for heat, cold, or other weather changes.
  • Have some drinking water with you.
  • If you take daily medicine, keep some with you in case you get stuck or don't make it home that night.
  • Learn to always be aware, alert, and a constant observer or your surroundings and environment.
  • Follow your local range or hunting rules and laws.  If you're supposed to sign-in at the range, then sign-in so someone knows you're there.  If you're supposed to put up the "range-in-use" flag, then do so.
  • If you find yourself shooting or hunting with idiots - LEAVE IMMEDIATELY!
  • Carry a spare key.
  • Save the drinking until after you're done shooting or hunting.
  • Get all the training you can, even non-first-aid training like the NRA's Range Safety Officer training - and if there is a Range Safety Officer at your range - listen to them unless they're an idiot, then refer to the previous recommendation about shooting or hunting with idiots.
  • Don't wear sandals, open-toed shoes, or clothing that lends itself to injuries or problems like getting caught or catching hot brass.
  • If you're in a tree-stand, take and wear the harness!
  • Never go down range unless their is a cease fire, the range is cold, all firearms have their actions open and nobody is touching a firearm.
  • Carry a Sharpie medium-point permanent marker, the possibilities are endless.
  • Read the instructions.
  • Carry and look at area maps before you leave.  Visualize where you are going, where you are, where you've been. GPS units are great, but they can fail... carry a compass.
  • Check your equipment and supplies BEFORE you leave.
  • Don't hike into the woods for a hunting trip with brand new boots, equipment, or anything that you haven't broken-in, checked, or tried out. I've seen many a man ruin their three-day hunting trip on the first day with blisters on their feet.
  • Be practical!  You're not likely to carry around a 60-pound first-aid kit or tow an ambulance with you.  Put something together that is ready and available when needed, which means it's convenient to carry with you.
  • Know where the nearest police, fire, ems, hospital, shelter, water, etc. is, especially if you're new to the area.
  • ...and the brown hat with antlers your wife or friend gave you as a present for deer hunting season, leave it at home.
There is also a lot of good additional information about first-aid and survival at survivalblog.com.  I also keep small copies of the Bible handy too.  Feel free to add your two-cents worth in the comments.

I hope you all stay safe while shooting!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Is it time to declare our independence again?

I truly love my country, but I wonder if my daughter and the future generations of Americans will enjoy the freedoms and rights so many have sacrificed, fought, and/or died for.  I often wonder if many Americans have actually achieved the American Dream... or borrowed it.

The news media and pundits talk about the pending disaster if we don't raise the debt ceiling, but I doubt if the way to fix the financial situation of someone who has maxed out their credit cards is to give them more credit. When I think of our country's indebtedness to foreign entities, I think of the truth in Proverbs 22:7, which says, "The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower [is] servant to the lender."

I'm told that these things are much more complicated than that, but I wonder if they really are.  Pappy would say if you're in a hole, quit digging. I'm a simple man and I marvel at the original one-page document that declared our independence from our oppressors.  The greatest country the world has ever known was initiated with a one-page document... and we couldn't even get health care done with less than 2,500 pages.

My 86 year-old father is approaching the end of his life very soon, he served for over three years in World War II, both in the North Atlantic and later in the Philippines.  There were 41 sailors aboard when Dad's ship went down in the Atlantic during September of 1944, and he was one of just 19 that made it to the third day of surviving in the ocean when they were finally rescued. He, like so many others, sacrificed his comfort, convenience, and future while serving his fellow Americans.  I wonder if I'm worthy of his sacrifice.

Today, so many of us are unwilling to sacrifice a few minutes for our country, let alone three years, let alone our lives.  We also have politicians who do not value or respect the great sacrifice, trust, and fiduciary responsibilities that have been placed in their hands - they have forgotten who they work for... the American people.

Is it time to declare our independence from self-indulgent gluttony, declare it from unfathomable debt to those that dislike and despise us?  Is it time that we collectively sacrifice as an American people to throw off our debt (and politicians who refuse to do so)?  How little a sacrifice that would be when compared with the sacrifice of our men and women in the military, serving us, as undeserving as we are, but also serving America... as deserving as she is.

I wonder, is it time to declare our independence again?

Monday, July 4, 2011

Ruger BX-25 Magazine

If you read one of my previous posts about my first gun, a Marlin Model 60, you know I'm very fond of it, meaning that particular rifle, but if I had to choose only one .22 rifle, it would have to be a Ruger 10/22.  The Ruger 10/22 in .22 long rifle has to be one of the most prolific, adaptable, and available rifles in America today.  My family has no less than half a dozen of these reliable, little guns in various configurations: wood stocks, all-weather stocks, target models, sporter models, compact models.

When Bill Ruger and company designed the original BX-1 10-shot rotary magazine for the 10/22 rifle, he created a reliable, sure-feeding magazine that didn't hang out below the fore-stock allowing the shooter to comfortable position their hand anywhere along the underside of the stock.  The problem was it only held 10 rounds.  While many others have provided a remedy for the limited capacity of the original BX-1 magazine, Ruger now offers their own BX-25 25-shot magazine.

Over the years, even back before the assault weapon ban of 1994 ran the prices through the roof, I have purchased no less than seven different brands of 25-shot-plus extended magazines for my Ruger 10/22s including Butler Creek, Shooters Ridge, Black Dog Machine, and Tactical Innovations ranging in price from $20 to $80 each with results ranging from "would not work at all" to "worked most of the time when seated just right".

When Ruger introduced the BX-25 magazines, like thousands of my fellow shooters, I went online to order and purchased three of these FACTORY magazines directly from Ruger for $29.95 each.  After an extended wait through the inevitable back-orders, we received our magazines and have been having fun with them for the last few weeks.  Now I have no intentions of providing highly detailed technical reviews on this blog, but I will review some items of interest to me that I've actually used and give you some "how it works or feels to me" reviews... and these things feel and work great!

Ruger did a great job designing the BX-25 magazines and has simulated the 30 degree feeding angle of their 10-shot rotary magazines while using a constant force spring so even loading that 25th round is not hard on the thumbs, which my gals love.  Constructed of what appears to be a tough, fiber-filled polymer with stainless steel feed lips and constant force spring, they lock firmly in the 10/22's magazine well and feed reliably.

Yes, we've had a couple of failures to completely feed in the chamber and failures to eject over a thousand-plus rounds during the past month or two, but nothing significant and I would blame that more on the lower quality of the boxes of bulk .22 ammunition and dirty actions after hundreds of rounds between cleanings than the actual magazines.  We did take the BX-25s apart and clean therm, but the only really dirty area with burnt powder and grime build-up was on the stainless steel feed lips which are easy to clean without complete disassembly.

My favorite plinking, hunting, and all-around shooting .22 long rifle ammo when I'm not worried about cost are the CCI Mini-Mags in solid and hollow-point.  The CCIs currently run about six to seven cents a round and always fire reliably in every .22 action we have and have never once given us a problem in these new Ruger BX-25 magazines.

Bottom Line: The Ruger BX-25 factory magazines are reliable, reasonably priced, and are my recommendation for extended capacity magazines for the Ruger 10/22 rifles (and Charger pistols).

Happy Fourth of July, 2011.

Words to reflect upon as we celebrate our independence...

"When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."

God Bless America! ...and have a terrific Fourth of July!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Take along someone new to shoot... TODAY!

With all the anti-gun hysteria out there fueled by misinformed people and the main-stream-media, I've found one of the best ways to win folks over to our side is one shot at a time.  There are many blogs (see my sidebar) and media outlets doing a terrific job of keeping up and covering all the news and politics affecting our second amendment rights, so I purposely choose not to try and duplicate all the fine work that is being done and to focus on what I'm most knowledgeable about.

I've been instructing and introducing new shooters to our sport and rights for a couple of decades now since my former work as a police officer and through the NRA and 4H Shooting Sports.  Without much tacti-cool, mall-ninja-type experience, I usually focus on the fundamentals of shooting, shooting sports, and self defense.  My experience has shown me that there's no sense in arguing with someone about how many touchdowns were scored when you're playing baseball.  The best way to win folks over is by getting them to play our game and that is why you should take along someone new to shoot... TODAY!

You may want to invite a new shooter or someone who hasn't shot in a long time.  You may end up inviting someone who would like to shoot, but has reservations or fears about it.  You may be the only opportunity they will ever have to experience the fun and exhilaration of shooting a gun, and depending upon their experience with you, you may well determine if they ever try it again.  With that in mind, here are some tips for taking someone shooting, especially someone who hasn't shot before:
  • Get to know your new shooter and their previous experiences or perceptions about shooting.
  • Don't go in a large group of experienced shooters if you don't have to.  Everyone will try to tell them their method or version and it can be intimidating to a new shooter.
  • Use with a .22 if you can.  There is nothing better than a .22 rifle or pistol for new shooters.  Low recoil, inexpensive, and accurate.  Laughing at your new shooter after they just experienced the pain from that improper hold and grip of a .44 magnum or 12 gauge is a good way to ensure they'll never want to try that again.
  • EDUCATE! Go over the basic gun safety rules along with the parts and operation of the gun.  Keep the lingo or jargon to a minimum.  Review the range rules.  Don't rush.
  • Have an extra set of shooting glasses and ear protection ready to go for them.
  • Make the first shots EASY shots.  People LOVE TO HIT THE TARGET!  We're talkin' ear-to-ear smiles creating refrigerator art. Cranking that three-inch Shoot-n-See target out there to 50 feet or 100 yards and assuring they'll miss their first shots will only be defeating and deflating to their experience.
  • Don't be a show off!  Your ability to beat up your neighbor's three-year old doesn't prove any more than your ability to embarrass a new shooter about their abilities with a firearm.
There are plenty of other good suggestions, and maybe some of you could provide some in the comments, but the bottom line is: Make the shooting experience safe and enjoyable.  You may win a life-long shooter to our side.  Oh, and guys, if she's cute and intelligent, take her out for dinner afterward (the wife says gals could do the same).

Friday, July 1, 2011

Five-Bucks: Balloon Dueling Tree.

Keeping kids (and adults) entertained on the shooting range at 4H Shooting Sports can be a challenge, especially after a couple of seasons of creative shooting situations from Top Shot on the History Channel.  The running joke is, "What can we shoot that's fun and won't cost us more than about five bucks?" as it seems most of our funds and fund-raising goes towards ammunition to keep approximately 80 4H'ers shooting each year.

One item I came up with is a Balloon Dueling Tree.  All you need are some Step-In Electric Fence Posts at about a $1.79 each from a farm supply store like Tractor Supply Company and some balloons.

The step-in electric fence posts are usually fiberglass, polymer, or a combination of both (I don't recommend steel posts due to safety concerns) with a little foot-step to press the pointed end into the ground and several clips to hold the electric fence wires that also work great for holding balloons.

The fiberglass and polymer construction holds up pretty well except for direct hits from bullets and doesn't seem to cause any problems with deflecting bullets or ricochets.  Even if you do shoot your balloon dueling tree, it usually takes several hits to ruin all the clips that hold the balloons.

We have come up with all sorts of games, shooting sequences, and timed events with these balloon dueling trees and you can increase the difficulty of each game by reducing the balloon size or increasing the distance to target and even the wind can add to the fun by wobbling your balloons around.  Kids (and adults) who aren't shooting (or some of your liberal friends or anti-gunners) can use their hot air to keep a steady supply of targets ready to go.

For the zombie hunters and mall-ninjas that don't think this is very cool, you can always get black or camo balloons in the birthday party supply aisle at Walmart and call it a Tactical Target Support Structure.

Go ahead and try it... and if you don't like it, you're out... like... five-bucks.

Remember to follow the gun safety rules, check beyond your target, and have fun!