Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Twelve crazy lanes of range...

The gals and I spent a couple of days up in northwest Ohio visiting family over Thanksgiving break.  My father-in-law wanted to take us to a new indoor range that had recently opened up, so we headed over to check it out after lunch on Black Friday.  It was a modern looking facility with six fifty-foot lanes and six seventy-five-foot lanes.  Clean, professional looking, plenty of guns to rent and targets to shoot... and packed with folks wanting to exercise their second amendment rights.

A nice , older gentleman waited on us while we signed all the legal fodder, read and signed the range rules, watched the safety video... and then we were put on a waiting list until a lane opened up.  That's when I decided to devote some time to one of my favorite hobbies better known as "people watching"... and the big windows looking in on the twelve shooting lanes provided...

Lane One... Two fellas with a brand-spankin' new Ruger SR-556c, and if ya'll know me... ya know I like my Rugers... especially the SR-556c.  They were takin' turns firing at a target down by the fifty-foot mark... and not hittin' a thing.  Might have been due to Troy Battle Sights... the front one was up, but the rear was still folded down.

Lane Two... Couple of twenty-something gals with a brand new Bersa Thunder and a box of .380ACP ammo.  They spent most of their time reading the manual, looking at the gun, reading the manual, looking at the ammo, reading the manual, pointing the gun, reading the manual, trying all the functions on the gun, then they finally loaded a magazine.  They put the magazine in the gun, then tried firing it... nothing.  They read the  manual, then cycled the slide.  They each took a shot or two with the gun.  They took the magazine out... packed it up and left.  The instructor in me couldn't help it... I caught them and mentioned that they should check the chamber... we went over to the red steel tube of accidental discharging mounted in the corner and I showed them how to check the gun to see if the action was clear and the gun was unloaded... and we took that last little .380ACP out and put it back in the box.  They were thankful, and I wished I lived in the area to help them, but instead suggested they check out some of the instructor business cards on the wall by the counter.

Lane Three... Mr.Hipster from that Gun 3.0 generation rapid-firing his Glock 19... he seemed very impressed with himself and the fist-sized hole he drilled in his target's center of mass at a distance of about six feet.

Lane Four...The Tactical Dancer... this young, buff tacti-cool dude had an AR with more attachments than a divorce degree on a single-point sling.  He would let his gun hang from his sling, get up on the balls of his feet then dance and shake, and wriggle out his upper body like a sprinter getting ready to set himself in the starting blocks at the Olympics.  Then he would plant his feet, do his best Chris Costa impression, bring the AR up, take two shots at his target set about ten feet down range, then let the gun drop and dangle from the single point sling while he started his dance routine again... still loaded without the safety on... amazingly, this fella was still able to count to twenty with all his toes still attached .. and where is the local range officer?  See Lane Seven.

Lane Five... Gun season for deer must be close because there is a nice gentleman with a beautiful Weatherby in 30-06 zeroing in his scope at fifty-feet.  He was giving that target holder quite a workout going back forth with each shot.  I'm guessing he's from nearby Michigan where they can actually hunt deer with a rifle, unlike us shotgun limited folks down here in Ohio.  He really seams to be enjoying himself, but then again it is a day before the Buckeyes of Ohio State beat the Wolverines from the University of Michigan.

Lane Six... The gentleman in Lane Five wasn't shaking things up enough with his occasional blast for a 30-06, so we have an SKS being rapidly fired by a fine young fellow with a pony-tail and more hardware hanging on his ears, nose, and face than the AR had over in Lane Four.  At one point he stopped in pain as his ear gauge appeared to be rubbing on the stock a little hard.

Lane Seven... This is the safest lane at the range by far... the resident Range Officer is giving extensive (all) attention and assistance helping the cute redhead wearing the skin-tight, plunging black v-neck with a push-up brass catcher fire her S&W Shield.

Lane Eight... This is what I love to see... a dad helping his son fire a brand new Ruger 10/22... red-white-blue and apple-pie America...don't shoot your eye out kid!

Lane Nine... Another deer hunter getting ready... sighting in his Remington 870 Express with slugs.

Lane Ten... Is this a prerequisite for a shooting range?  Is it required by a law I missed somewhere?  Neanderthal-man in a muscle shirt is showing his very cute (OK, totally hot) and very petite girlfriend how to shoot... for what appears to be her very first time.  In order to make this an exciting and successful experience... he's starting her out with a Kimber Pro Carry II with a bulls-eye target set all the way down at the seventy-five foot mark.  She takes two or three shots... almost dropping the gun after the second shot... and did she hit the target? well... she hit the backstop... somewhere.

Lane Eleven... Here we have a middle-aged fella... with a Springfield XD... but he's not shooting many 9mm's downrange... because he keeps watching the very cute and very petite girlfriend in Lane Ten while picking up his brass very, very slowly.

Lane Twelve... This is the farthest lane down at the end of the range.  It is slightly darker there which is the perfect place for the Operator to operate with the least amount of disturbance.  He seems to really know his stuff.  And if he ever decides to take off all his gear he could outfit two SWAT teams for the City of Toledo. He obviously is well trained and practices a fair bit by how proficient he is at shooting and operating.  I wondered if he came in dressed in all that gear... but later on when our lane opened up... I noticed he had more molle-covered luggage and bags piled in the corner of the range than the troops coming home from Iraq.

Now I really don't mean to offend anyone with my observations, but I've been to a lot of ranges... both inside and outside... in my years... and there is a reason I often prefer our home range.  I've seen some very well-managed ranges... this wasn't really one of them.  It's a terrific facility and maybe they weren't ready for such a packed house on Black Friday... but at least I didn't see any holes where they didn't belong that day... but that may have been more luck than practice.

The two goofs who took over Lane Four for the Tactical Dancer were firing a Ruger SR9c and a Ruger Mark III 22/45... I'm sure someone will write a blog post about my daughter and I someday too... since we too were sucked into the... Twelve crazy lanes of range...

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Five Bucks: Skewered

Probably, the best use for skewer sticks is holding together carefully slice and diced pieces of marinated steak or chicken sandwiched between fresh vegetables or pieces of pineapple and orange wedges for some delicious shish kabobs.  Out here in the boonies, where we are engaged in the endless pursuit of something fun and interesting to shoot that is also legal... no, I'm not talkin' bout street signs and mailboxes... cheap, bamboo skewer sticks offer a lot of possibilities.

Pick up a cheap pack of bamboo skewer sticks from the local store or raid your gal's kitchen... but don't touch the stainless steel Pampered Chef Skewers if you want to sleep indoors at night.

If you need some cheap targets to skewer... you might want to pick up a package of little plastic bathroom-sized cups.  They're a great challenge wobbling around and will even give the best varmint hunters a challenge at a decent distance.

If you're redneck enough like us, you can use all kinds of things laying around to skewer some targets to shoot at.  Pop cans, soups cans, plastic water bottles, marshmallows, and even some fruit or vegetables if your more of a carnivore than a herbivore.

Skewer sticks are also great sacrificial target holders if you're trying to save your target stand, like the one described in the Five Bucks: Shootin' Dum-Dums post a while back.

So whether it's a .22 at twenty yards or a .22-250 at two-hundred yards... you can skewer yourself some targets and make a shooting range just about anywhere it's safe to shoot.

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

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Butt kickin' and dry-firin'...

Wow, this fall has been busy for me and the gals.  I've been feelin' like a one-legged man in a butt kickin' contest... no offense intended to those with one leg... it's just an ol' sayin' that's been around for years.  I've picked up the NRA's Personal Protection Outside the Home Instructor certification, been accepted into the NRA's Training Counselor program for early next year, and completed the Ohio 4H Shooting Sports Shotgun Instructor certification.

My main gal and I are stepping up as the lead advisor (me) and the Ohio Shooting Sports Coordinator (her) for our 4H club.  I've also been appointed to the Board of Directors for our local sportsmens club and still serve on the county 4H committee.  All that has been on top of our regular duties as professional educators, parents, church members, etc.

I'm starting to learn to say no with some authority, but you wouldn't have guessed that from the previous paragraph.  Sometimes things have to go or slow down and as some of you have noticed... the blog is down to about one post each week, but I still enjoy keepin' the blog up as it relaxes me and keeps me in touch with so many great folks out there so I'm committed to at least one post every week or so.

Of course, I still find time for prepping, hunting, the outdoors, and shooting.  Having a place to shoot and hunt out back is sure an advantage.  I've been trying to make sure I get my exercise each day by ridin' the Schwinn Airdyne, weight lifting with dumb-bells, keeping my trigger fingers and hands strong with the Grip Master while driving to work, and walking the trails to check trail cams.

A few friends of mine have recently lamented that they haven't been able to get much range time in lately or even for months.  Even with our own range here at home, I still do a lot of dry-firing with both pistols and rifles and practice drawing from concealment fairly regularly... even out on the shootin' range.

There's been a lot written about dry-fire practice, including some good things by my friends Ron, over at When the Balloon Goes Up, and Matt, over at Jerking the Trigger.  I think one of the keys to effective dry-fire practice is being methodical and focusing on fundamentals and technique over speed... almost like developing a kata in a martial arts discipline.  Dry-firing isn't anything new, bulls-eye and rifle shooters have been using the technique for many decades.  I even ran across an advertisement (below) for a dry-firing arm weight from fifty years ago in the November, 1962 edition of Guns magazine.

There are a lot of ideas, tools, lasers, special equipment, and other gadgets to assist the shooter with dry-fire practice, but I have two items that I believe are critical.  First, the Triple-Check... make sure your gun is unloaded, the magazines are unloaded, there is absolutely no ammunition in the area, you're aiming at a safe target or location and TRIPLE CHECK your gun to make sure it is empty.  That's right, three times, check it... check it... and check it again.

The second critical item is simply DO IT!  Practice dry-firing regularly.  Work on the fundamentals   Get the trigger pull going in a steady motion, straight to the rear until it breaks.  Make sure your grip is consistent.  Practice operating the controls on your gun.  Always be aware of what your muzzle is covering if you're practicing drawing from concealment.  Oh, and don't forget your off-hand... you know, the one you don't use to write.

So, feel free to let me know if you have any ideas or tips that help improve the dry-fire practice experience... but for now I need to get back to... Butt kickin' and dry-firin'...

Monday, November 5, 2012

Hot scrambled eggs in a cast iron pan.

Farmall and John Deere... Smith & Wesson and Winchester... like many names long associated with quality and longevity, a lot of country folks are familiar with names like Griswold and Wagner in the kitchen.  Those last two are just some of the names associated with quality cast-iron cookware.  I've always loved cooking on cast iron whether on the modern electric stove, the ol' Coleman camping stove, or over a fire... and you can't hardly wear out a good cast iron skillet, pan, or pot.

My good friend Matt over at Jerking the Trigger shares my admiration of quality cookware cast with iron and recently sent me a Number Three cast-iron pan he restored using electrolysis... which, by the way, is just the right size for those small meals for one or cooking something on the side for the family.  The cast-iron is the same, but granny's lard and butter are gone and extra virgin olive oil keeps things slick and healthy.  I'm not sure what the difference is between virgin and extra virgin, but I'm guessin' it may be like the difference between pregnant, a little bit pregnant, and extra pregnant.

Now aside from liking my eggs scrambled with bacon, there are just about as many ways to make scrambled eggs as there are reasons for why the chicken crossed the road.  I start off with fresh, grade "A" eggs, whip'em up with a dash of milk and Tabasco sauce, pour it in the pan on low to medium heat, then sprinkle on some mild or sharp shredded cheddar cheese.  Dust a bit of fresh ground, black pepper on top as you work the eggs and then toss on a pinch or two of salt.  Slide those scrambled eggs onto a plate next to some crispy strips of bacon and you've got a protein pizzazz to start off your day just right.

When you're up before the sun enjoying that cold, fresh air in the huntin' blind or tree stand... nothin' wraps it up like sayin' grace and a breakfast of... Hot scrambled eggs in a cast iron pan.