Sunday, November 27, 2011

Singing in the rain...

Tomorrow is the first day of gun season for deer hunting here in Ohio. 

I'm armed and dressed for success.

Unfortunately, according to the weather forecast... for the next couple of days...

I'll be... singing in the rain...

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Deserve's got nothin' to do with it...

As I observe the world around me, and even further through the eyes of the media and internet... there are a lot of folks responding to a variety of circumstances... many facing situations which are not of their their own doing.  The sheep are "baaing" away for someone to take care of them, but the sheepdogs are wiping off the mud and blood while they continue on through life.

For Christians, the good Lord above never promised us Heaven in this life, but in the next life.  What he did provide us in this life is the teachings of the Bible to guide us.  Whether or not you're of my faith and beliefs, I've also been fortunate in life to have been provided incredible men and women who have guided and taught me.

See, my heroes and role models are not sports figures or movie stars, but real people who have entered, and sometimes at my age, have now left my life.  Real people who have taught me, advised me, and guided me out of no other obligation than their own choice.  A man like my father served his country, his family, and his community because he chose to.  Don't think fatherhood isn't a choice as I believe the lack of millions of men failing to own up to their responsibilities as fathers and husbands is possibly one of the biggest challenges our country has ever faced.

Men like Pappy, my grandfather, who was a farmer, steel mill worker and foreman, and a solid American man who built his life and this country through his sweat and physical strife.  He gave me my first gun, but what he really left me was knowledge, character, and footsteps to follow in.  I thought of him yesterday as I wandered through Cabela's... this is a place he would have really enjoyed.

Our friend Dale, who was a farmer, trucker, and business man... taught me everything and anything from money management and cutting (harvesting) wheat to tig-welding and backing a semi-truck up to a loading dock.  He was a great and generous man who unassumingly drove his rusty 1974 Chevy pick-up into his 70s and left a multi-million dollar estate and thousands of acres of prime farmland free of any debt.  His wife always reminded us that no how matter how busy the farm and trucking company was, it was still important to stop work, eat, reassess the work, and then carry on... even if was ninety-seven degrees on a humid July afternoon.

In college, I somehow ended up with Dr. Ernie for an advisor, the only Kentucky Baptist that probably existed on a liberal college campus.  A farmboy and Vietnam vet with a Ph.D. from The Ohio State University... he's now retired in Kentucky on the family farm, I'm sure he's still dispensing his thoughtful advice to his son and grand-children while he sits on his porch.

There are so many others who have taught and guided my life from my mother, an Ohio farm girl who can bake an apple pie, plant a two-acre garden, and build furniture or change oil to the many ladies who taught me through elementary school the basics in education that I needed to get through life... before we implemented the politically corrected, "everybody wins while learning nothing of substance" baloney that currently occurs in our public schools.

Those elementary teachers knew how to achieve success in the classrooms and maintain a child's attention... without using drugs.  You learned what you needed to know because they held you accountable.  If you were slow at learning your multiplication tables, they'd stay after school to help you, but then again, YOU had to put the time and work in... nobody was going to slap an "A" on your paper just to make you feel better after for making a lazy, half-hearted attempt.

Pappy, Dale, and my dad are all gone now.  Mrs. Heslup, my second grade teacher and the last of the elementary school teachers living, passed on this fall.  I still have good counsel, role-models, and heroes around, but it looks like I too need to keep stepping up to the plate as a father, a husband, and mentor for my family, friends, college students, church kids, 4H youth, community, and others.  It's not because it's required or that I have any special circumstances or qualifications, it's just what was done for me and I need to keep paying it forward in my life.

So while I am thankful today for so much... when we sat down for Thanksgiving dinner today... friends and family... and my father was not here with us to sit at the head of the table... my mother said, "Dann, you sit at the head of table this year."

I sat at the head of the table, but believe me... Deserve's got nothin' to do with it...

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Bring enough gun... for you.

After reading a recent post over at Say Uncle, aside from realizing the he and I think a lot alike, I began thinking about all the hyped-up cow manure a lot of new and inexperienced shooters have to wade through when trying to choose a gun for self-defense.  I've been to a lot of firearms training from a variety of instructors, read hundreds of books, and watch more videos than I care to remember... and I've now been instructing students myself for over twenty years and with all that said... I must say that when it comes to the rules of selecting and using a gun for self defense... I see it this way...

First things first... the "using a gun for self-defense rules" don't even matter unless you are of the sheepdog mindset, you know what having a deadly weapon is for, you know how and when you to use it, and you are willing to use it to take another person's life... which is no small undertaking... even if they are a dirty scumbag.  Guns used for self-defense ain't for scaring people off (although it happens), they're for shooting people... people who are threatening you with serious bodily harm or death.  If you've got that in your psyche, then consider these rules...

Using a Gun for Self-Defense Rules:
Rule 1: Have a gun (as in with you or ready at hand).
Rule 2: Have a reliable gun you can reliably shoot.
Rule 3: Be a life-long learner and shooter so you can decide about Rule 1 and Rule 2.

Rule 1 was basically covered in a previous Sheepdog 101 post, so an introduction to Rule 2 and Rule 3 is probably overdue.  A reliable gun is one that goes bang pretty much every time it is supposed to and doesn't go bang when it is not supposed to when combined with YOU, the shooter.  What works for someone else may or may not work for you.  Being able to reliably shoot a particular gun means that you can comfortably and reliably operate that gun to place bullets on intended targets in the intended places any time the need arises.

Now which gun fits into these rules for you is something you will need to learn about and decide.  Too often I have students show up at a basic pistol, rifle, or shotgun course with guns that were selected for them rather than guns they selected.  That might work when you're first starting out, but try as many guns out as you can, educate yourself, and make your own decisions.

A shotgun is hard to conceal, but might make a good home defense firearm.  Need to shoot at a significant distance, a rifle is always better than a handgun and even works in close-quarters, but again... difficult to conceal outside the home.

The .45ACP vs 9mm debate has been raging for years, but it doesn't matter.  But the big ol' 45 will make rapists do double back-flips when hit while the little niner will just annoy them... maybe you should also consider that my Ruger SR9 carries eighteen rounds with one in the chamber verses my SR1911 that carries nine rounds with one in the chamber before a reload occurs... stopping power vs. firepower.

Now I'm not advocating one over the other... those are questions YOU need to learn about and decide.  Some people recommend you use or carry the largest caliber gun you can reliably shoot, but I don't always buy that the diameter of the bore is the prime factor you should consider in selecting a gun for self-defense. 

Revolvers are old school, don't waste your time... and they only hold five or six shots... now wait a minute there folks... I do still recommend revolvers, but each recommendation is based on the person and their need for a reliable gun they can reliably shoot.  Revolvers just seem simpler to some people and if that is what works best for them, then that is the best choice.

The .22 is worthless and isn't lethal enough... maybe, but I wouldn't ask Robert F. Kennedy's opinion on that one.  No, I'm not endorsing the terrific little .22 as the defensive round of choice, but as I tell my students... a .22 shot placed on-target is better than .45 shot that misses the target.  The two considerations that make .22s a possibility for self-defense is that they are usually inexpensive to purchase and shoot, and they're easy to shoot reliably so folks will likely practice more often.

So how do you know which gun is best for Rule 2... follow Rule 3.  Take an NRA Basic Firearm training class, go to a gun dealer and ask questions, try out a local range and rent some guns to try out, join or visit a shooting sports or gun club... many folks in a lot of clubs enjoy showing new folks their guns and even letting them try a few out.  You'll meet a lot of good, like-minded folks... and an occasional idiot or two... so learn to sort the wheat from the chaff for yourself.

Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.
~Proverbs 15:22

There are a lot of good and bad opinions and information out there about guns and the best thing anyone can do is educate themselves, practice regularly, and... bring enough gun... for you.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

What kind of parent lets their kid...

Our daughter turned sixteen this past summer and like most kids who have survived that magical number of years, she obtained the right of passage known as her driver's license.  Unlike many sixteen year-olds, she also received her motorcycle license at the same time.  The gal's been ripping around in go-carts since she was five and tearing up dirtbikes since she was eight, yet the question from some who don't know us very well inevitably arises, "what kind of parent lets their kid...".

We're both in the education business and life-long learning is just a way of life for us and it's been instilled in our daughter.  She completed dirtbike safety school at the Honda corporate facility when she was nine years old, has traveled many off-road trails in the fields and through state and national parks, and completed the required Motorcycle Safety Foundation Basic Rider Course with flying colors before passing her test to get her motorcycle license.

Now, no amount of experience or education can compete head-on with a four-thousand pound SUV on the road so preparation, skills, practice, and continued learning are critical to calculate and minimize risks... just like with guns.

Someday far down the road, I'm sure someone will see our daughter's child enjoying motorcycles or firearms and say, "what kind of parent lets their kid..."

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Sheepdog 101: Keep the teeth ready at hand...

A recent discussion with friends developed around the continuing string of burglaries in our county that have been going on for the last three or four years.  I previously mentioned some of our experiences with two-legged varmints.  The gal said, "They better not come around our place, 'cause we have a shotgun."  My gal asked what kind it was and where do they keep it... to which the reply was... they weren't sure what kind because it was his father's and it is kept locked in a case under their bed so the kids can't get to it.

Any sheepdog knows that the teeth are only good for biting if you've got them with you.  A firearm is the great equalizer in a threatening or violent encounter and its value only prevails if you have it ready at hand.  Rule One of gun-fighting is HAVE A GUN.  Do you carry your gun on you or have it ready at hand when you're home? when you're out and about? Or is it locked in a case under your bed upstairs?

Now I'm older, overweight, out of shape, and a bit stressed at work... but I've been working on improving those situations, except the aging thing.  If you're in great physical condition... terrific, but there will always be somebody or several people that are stronger, faster, and more lethal... and I don't care how good you are... eventually, you can't beat the aging process.  The lethal force of a bullet discharged from any given firearm is the same regardless of whether it is fired by an ex-navy seal or an eighty-year-old, retired great-grandma.

As a long-time NRA and 4H Shooting Sports instructor, I've seen folks from age five to eighty-two master the basics of firearm handling.  If you ever wonder about the frailty of someone who is disabled... the firearm can truly even out the odds... or beat the odds as demonstrated by veteran and former Blackhawk chopper pilot Trevor Baucom.

So if you've worked a firearm into your self-defense plans, make sure it is one that is reliable and that you can reliably use it.  Keep it ready at hand, even if that means carrying at home and don't forget... when ol' Murphy's Law kicks in, two-is-one and one-is-none.  If the boogie man kicks in the door of our home in the middle of the night when we're all there... he'll be dealing with at least three of these and three of these.  Hence, keeping a second set of teeth around never hurts.

So the lesson from today's class of Sheepdog 101: Keep the teeth ready at hand...

(Special thanks to Ruger and Sasha for participating in the visuals for this lesson.  No cats or two-legged varmints were harmed in this production of Sheepdog 101)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Good reads for gals... and guys

A gal recently asked me if I could recommend some books about guns and concealed carry as she is somewhat new to firearms and is thinking about getting her concealed carry license here in Ohio.  I looked through some of the possibly hundreds of firearm-related books the gals and I have collected and pulled a few off the shelves.

The Cornered Cat: A Woman's Guide to Concealed Carry by Kathy Jackson is a great book that is thorough, yet an easy read, and specifically covers things from a woman's perspective.  Gila Hayes' Personal Defense for Women goes beyond handguns and discusses both rifles and shotguns too.

Three other books I grabbed deal more with background information and mindset for someone who's interested in self-defense with a firearm and concealed carry.  If you're not sure that you need to be armed to defend yourself or your family and the ramifications of the choice to be armed... I think that Lessons from Armed America by Kathy Jackson and Mark Walters or Thank God I had a Gun by Chris Bird will provide a good overview of reality and things to consider while exercising your second amendment rights and the God-given right of self-defense.

The Concealed Handgun Manual (with a new/different cover if you're looking for it) by Chris Bird is a comprehensive book that covers everything from what to carry and how to carry to legal considerations and mindset.  I really think as you read through it, he does a great job providing a good, unbiased look at many aspects of selecting, carry, and staying alive while carrying a concealed firearm.

Two other books that are very well done are the NRA Guide to the Basics of Pistol Shooting and Gun Proof your Children by Massad Ayoob.  The best way to pick up the first is by taking an NRA Basic Pistol Course instructed by an NRA Certified Instructor such as myself.  The latest addition is updated and really does a thorough job discussing the basics of safety, shooting, and maintaining your pistols.

We may have every book ever written by Massad Ayoob.  I picked up Gun Proof your Children at least twenty years ago.  While the book design and text could use a bit of updating... the basic philosophy, information, techniques, and mindset about children and firearms are still on target.  If you have kids, you should gun proof them... not hide your firearms and pretend they don't exist... 'cause the kids will cross paths with guns at some point in their lives.

So if you know a gal, or anyone thinking about firearms and self-protection or concealed carry... while there are many other good books out there, these are just few good reads for gals... and guys.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

I love mechanical things...

Anything mechanical has always fascinated me.  From the age of three, mom says I tried to disassemble everything I could, studying it, trying to figure out how it worked, trying to improve or fix anything that wasn't functioning at an optimal level.

Guns, tractors, cars, trucks, motorcycles... I love doing my own work... fixing, maintaining, improving.  Wrenching on farm equipment, tractors, engines, motorcycles, guns, and working in the barn or shop seems to be where I find a lot of relaxing enjoyment.  The wife thinks my favorite manly fragrances are Hoppe's, WD40, Diesel, and Valvoline.

I've done a lot of amateur gunsmith work over the years and I've been toying with the idea of working my way through one of the NRA short-term gunsmithing schools so I might one day move on to a second career or at least have more refined skills and a small machine shop in place before TEOTWAWKI.  I just wish I lived closer to one of the schools.

The new Ruger SR1911 has hit the 1,000 round mark without a single malfunction.  Due for a good cleaning... it was disassembled, cleaned, looked over carefully, lubricated, and reassembled.  John Browning's design still amazes me, especially considering that the basic design is now over 100 years old.  Although it is a good design, some 1911s I've used in the past have been a little finicky and they always seem to need some attention and adjustment over time.

I'm starting to think the good ol' folks at Ruger might have made a gun that won't need me as much as the other 1911s have in the past.  There are some basic wear marks on the rails and in places where metal runs against metal, but nothing that looks unusual.  Actually, there seems to be less wear than many of my other semi-autos visibly show after that many rounds.

As much as I enjoy shooting... I also enjoy taking the guns apart, keeping each one in top shape, even improving them when needed.  What else can I say...

I love mechanical things...

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Guns and Motorcycles and Mindsets...

You couldn't ask for a better fall day to go for a ride than today.  Sixty-five degrees, sunny, a light breeze... these are the some of the few great fall days left for riding, but my riding today wasn't just for fun... it's time to fill up the gas tanks, add the fuel stabilizer, and put the two-wheeled machines into hybernation to avoid Ohio winters and the man-made snow we call road salt.

A few years ago, I had just swung the leg over and off one of the motorcycles in a parking lot outside a grocery store and was taking my helmet off when a elderly lady walked up.  Without even a "howdy-doo", she told me, "You know what they call those at the hospital? Murder-cycles! My neighbor's son was killed on one of those a couple of years ago, you'll never see me on one, they should outlaw all of them."

I smiled and politely said, "I know what you mean, ma'am... one of my best friends was killed in a car crash back in high school, you'll never see me get in a car... they should outlaw all of them!"  She looked at me, stared for a second or two, then turned and went back to her car.

I fancy myself an amateur student of human nature and I've seen a lot of different mindsets in my lifetime.  It is difficult to figure all of them out.  The outcomes and conclusions various people have come to are obvious, but the road to the get there is often a mystery.

I have yet to meet a state legislator over the years that rides a motorcycle and favors mandatory helmet laws, but a lot of those who don't ride prefer mandated brain buckets for everyone who rides.  One gal gets robbed at gun point and wants to ban all guns... while another gal robbed at gunpoint wants to get a gun, learn how to use it, and carry it with her.

Often, I surmise in my philosophical musings - the deepest of which usually occur while riding motorcycles or John Deere tractors - that there are basically two primary mindsets... those who want to take care of themselves and those who want taken care of.  All subsets of mindsets probably fall under one of those two categories... at least in my mindset.

So what are your thoughts on guns and motorcycles and mindsets?