Sunday, December 23, 2012

Makin' a list, checkin' it twice...

The gals and I are what some might call "preppers".  That term can cover quite a range of activities and lifestyles.  When you grow up or live out in rural areas like we do, what folks call prepping is just how we've always lived.  When the Blizzard of '78 hit northwest Ohio, we were snowed under for almost two weeks... no power, no school, no police, no fire service or EMS... folks took care of their own and each other... the firewood cut and stacked many months before kept us warm, the summer's garden produce was canned and stored in the basement, we melted snow for water, and we survived and helped others as best we could. Besides, ridin' a snow mobile right into downtown to get items at the grocery store was pretty cool and that was back when you could call "Joe" to open up his pharmacy at midnight to get a prescription for the elderly neighbor.

These days a lot of folks live paycheck to paycheck, some by choice, some not... but many live day to day if they were ever faced with their food, water, or shelter supply stopping.  While I'm not sure you can plan and prepare for every possible circumstance without it consuming your life, I think most folks can plan and prepare for some.  Like anything, to do it right you need to educate yourself, make a plan, and follow through... at a steady pace, not a crazy-mad rush that causes you to burn out and drop the whole matter.

For more immediate needs, the gals and I have Bug Out Bags (BOBs) ready to go and we've added Get Home Bags (GHBs) to our preps.  What's the difference, well the BOBs are set up for "buggin' out" and have supplies for at least three days and possibly up to two weeks of survivin', while the GHBs have what we anticipate needing for one day, maybe overnight... to get home from work, a friends, shopping, etc.

We're currently on Christmas break and my daughter and I went through our BOBs to check and update our preps and I changed out some clothing as I've lost some weight.  My daughter said she would like a list of everything that's in the bags and where 'cause she can't always remember... which I thought was a profound idea since I can't remember every little thing, let alone the expiration date or age of some supplies AND I have lists of just about everything else in our lives... lists for planning, lists for to-do, lists for the budget, lists for reloading, lists for groceries... boy have I got lists.

So we made a list of what was in each of our BOBs and GHBs, put them in zip-lock bags and put the bags right inside the top compartment.  I also made a list of future items and upgrades.  For example, we have to live within our budget and we have to do almost all our preps in triplicate as there are three of us.  I like the L.A. Police Gear backpacks we have, but they are not the best and while we chose Coyote brown/tan to look less tactical and conspicuous, we'd like to eventually get better quality bags that have a frame and look even less tactical... although the Molle strips are very handy.

The GHBs are $29.99 gear bags from Cabela's that we picked up on sale for $9.99 each.  They probably won't make it to the summit of Mt. Everest and back, but they should make it home with us.  The GHBs were also packed with consideration for the vehicles they sit in during the summer months so 120 to 130-degree heat won't ruin anything inside.

If you're interested in putting your own BOBs together or updating what you have, there are plenty of lists already out there on the internet.  Greg Ellifritz has a recent list in his post over at Active Response Training for the BOB and the GHB.  Greg has his BOB weighing in at 55 pounds, but realizing his physical condition in comparison to knowing what our physical condition actually is... we've tried to keep our BOB's under thirty pounds before we add the fire-power and requisite hardware.  James Wesley, Rawles' Survival Blog has plenty of information and lists for planning or checking your preps when it comes to BOBs and GHBs.  Survival Cache also has a list to consider for a BOB.

So we hope you folks don't have to use your BOBs or GHBs anytime soon, although we've tried using and replenishing ours on occasion to test our preps, but you might want to make a list... and the gals and I do hope you have a very Merry Christmas... and be good... because we're not the only ones... Makin' a list, checkin' it twice...

Sunday, December 16, 2012

B5 Bravo SOPMOD Buttstock

I love America.  I believe in American exceptionalism, our entrepreneurial spirit, and support un-apologetic patriotism.  While the socialistic tides are flowing against the foundations that this great country was built on, the opportunities for success are there for those who are willing to use their ingenuity, work hard, and persist when faced with adversity.

Those values and beliefs are clearly evident not far from the gals and I here in southwest Ohio up at B5 Systems... in a plain, nondescript facility on the outskirts of Xenia, Ohio... well... nondescript except for the large B5 Systems logo on the side of the building.  Taking decades of experience in precision, mil-spec military and aerospace contracting, manufacturing, and engineering... Judd Burke and the good folks at B5 opened their new business in 2008 and quickly made a name for themselves in the firearms community when they were awarded the military contract to produce the mil-spec Enhanced SOPMOD Buttstock back in 2009.  

B5 is now in the process of designing and developing their own line of mil-spec, quality firearm accessories... and they just introduced the first of several with the announcement of the BCM/Haley Strategic The Jack Carbine.  The B5 Bravo SOPMOD Buttstock keeps the mil-spec quality B5 Systems is known for as a government contractor and manufacturer... and offers many of the advantages of the Enhanced SOPMOD without the battery storage in a lighter, more compact unit.

The angle of the Bravo's anti-slip, cushioned and removable butt plate has been designed with a cant and fits my hold point much better in a forward-facing CQB type of stance.  The overall profile for the cheek-weld has been kept the same as the Enhanced SOPMOD.

You can easily see how much narrower the profile of the Bravo is when placed next to the Enhanced SOPMOD.  I personally could not tell a difference in the feel and fit when actually switching back and forth between the two stocks in terms of cheek-weld, but I did find that for my body, chest, and shoulder... the new cant of the Bravo fit better and provided a more solid, parallel contact point for me.

I think a lot of folks will probably not need the extra battery storage on the rifle, so I doubt that most will miss that feature.  B5 does offer the buttstocks molded in various colors.

You can really see the slender, sleekness of the new Bravo when comparing it to the Enhanced SOPMOD and viewing both of them from the front.  Speaking of slender... weighing the two buttstocks on our digital scale... the Enhanced SOPMOD weighs in at 10.6 ounces with the battery compartments free of batteries while the new Bravo weighs just 8.2 ounces... that's 2.4 ounces less.

The ambidextrous, position-locking, quick-detach sling mounting points... in addition to the two traditional slots for threading through web-strapping of of other slings... provides many options for folks whether you're running with a two-point sling set-up or a one-point sling.

Our one-point Troy Battle Sling attached positively and easily... although I wouldn't attach it all the way back on the stock as in the photo, but I don't currently have any quick-detach two-point slings.  The sling attached with precision, but the fit wasn't so tight as to make attachment or detachment difficult.  Mark Keller... B5's Director of Marketing, Firearms Fanboy, Industry-Connected, AR Guru... has worked with key players in the AR world, military, and firearms industry throughout the entire design and development process for the Bravo... and I think it shows in the details, quality, and versatility... especially with the sling attachment options.

I found the Bravo's six-position locking-lever to be slightly more rounded and ergonomic than the original Enhanced SOPMOD and those on standard M4-style, six-position, adjustable stocks.  The fit of the stock on our Ruger SR-556c was perfect... snug, no play, or wiggle, and adjustment was easy with positive positioning on the buffer tube.

Folks are going to find that the military and aerospace engineering and manufacturing expertise and capabilities that B5 Systems brings to the table allows them to produce quality mil-spec gear and accessories for the AR-platform at price-points that will keep the competition hoppin'.  

B5 will be be hard to beat and... in full disclosure .. I am acquainted with these folks... and they provided the new, still packaged stocks for me to use and evaluate... and they're good people with terrific products... which is American exceptionalism and entrepreneurship at it's best... These are patriotic Americans with American designed and American made products putting Americans to work.

B-Smart, B-Aware, B-Ready... B5 Bravo SOPMOD Buttstock

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Ruger Single-Ten

I think as folks begin to add to their gun collection, there are few collections that should be without a good, quality .22 rifle and/or a .22 pistol.  The .22 rifles and pistols are fun and cheap to shoot, plus good ones are just dead-on accurate. We've acquired a fair number of .22 rifles and pistols over the years... mostly Rugers... so I admit my bias up front... and our newest acquisition belongs to my wife for fun, 4H, or whatever she wants to shoot... as long as it's not me.

A couple of months back, we picked up a Ruger Single-Ten for my gal and we've now had a number of opportunities to put a lot of rimfires downrange with it, so I thought you folks might like an update and a review.

Bill Ruger, Sr. introduced his Ruger Single-Six all the way back in 1953, then upgraded it with a transfer-bar safety with the New Model Single-Six in 1973. Since then, the Single-Six has been offered in a variety of configurations. Ruger's most recent configuration involved some drilling and machining to let ten little .22 cartridges gather for the fun before reloading.

Now if you're lookin' for technical spec's or tactical applications, then this ain't really the review for you.  I usually don't review a gun until I've had some substantial time using it.  There are already plenty of reviews out there for this gun, but I thought some of you might find my observations helpful.

First of all, this stainless steel six-shooter, er... ten-shooter is just deadly accurate, keeping less than quarter-sized groups of ten shots when fired off the benchrest position at twenty-five yards with just about every brand of .22 long rifle cartridges we've fed it.

The Williams Adjustable Fiber-Optic FireSights that come standard have a rear sight that's both windage and elevation "click" adjustable. Even on a gray, overcast day the Williams FireSights are bright and easily acquired in visualizing your sight alignment and sight picture.

The trigger is definitely not a super light-weight target trigger-pull, but it has a wide, smooth front face and breaks crisply without any noticeable creep.  The fit and finish of the gun is well done, but not so well done you'd think twice about slipping this hog-leg into a holster or pack while you're camping, hiking, or doing a day's chores around the barn.

The loading gate gives you a clear view and room to load and unload... one round at a time.  I'm not sure this  would have made me too excited back in the days of the wild west, but for plinking, small game, and target shooting... it works just fine.  While we're looking at it, I will mention that the counter-bores at the rear of chambers in the cylinder for the rim of the .22 cartridge do tend to fill with dirt and residue while shooting, especially with cheap twenty-twos, so a plastic, gun-cleaning dental pick works well to clean that area out when it gets a bit tough to load cartridges.

We did take a couple of maintenance precautions based on past experience with our guns... Ruger and otherwise.  A little bit of blue, medium-strength thread-locker on the screws that hold the front sight and ejector housing in place will keep them from loosening up and just a dab of thread-locker on the pivot-pin for the rear-sight elevation will keep it from sliding out.

So whether you grew up watchin' westerns featuring the likes of John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, and John Ford... or you're just lookin' for a .22 pistol that feels substantial, yet natural in the hand to plink, hunt, shoot targets, or whatever... this stainless steel single-action will outlast you and your kids... so if you're looking, I wouldn't hesitate to pick up a... Ruger Single-Ten.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

The Musings of a Vegetarian Deer Hunter...

The bumper-sticker on the back of a neighbor's ol' rusty pick-up truck up the road says, "Vegetarian: old Indian word for poor hunter."  I felt like a poor hunter at times this past week during gun season in Ohio.  No venison in the freezer so far this year.  After all the planning and trail camera snapshots of does and bucks striking a pose... I didn't see anything close enough to shoot this past week.  Fortunately, there's some additional hunting season left in December, so we'll see what comes of it.

Truthfully, most of what I love about hunting is the solitude and sanctuary out and about in God's green earth.    Sometimes I hunt with a friend or buddy... but often I hunt alone where it's just me and the good Lord to chat about life and things.  I really love the sensations found in the field and woods.  The brisk, cold air where you can see your breath as you walk into the field or woods...  Listening to the crunching and crackling of leaves beneath your boots...  Feeling the weight of your chosen boom-stick slung over your shoulder... the clean, fresh smell of the fall air filling your lungs.

Whether it's the ground blind, a tree stand, or the deer stand... I love climbing into position... getting my equipment in place and my body adjusted... and settling in to watch and wait.  Listening... watching... feeling the cold on my face...relaxing my legs... finding that perfect equilibrium of a restful, yet ready perch... and then my mind relaxes... my senses heighten... I hear things I miss in daily life... a shot off in the distance as another hunter takes a deer... the creaking and occasional crack of the trees and branches as the wind blows through the woods... a dog offering occasional barking far off in the distance.

I watch... wait... listen... and begin my musings...

My daughter is in her last year of high school... she's more than I ever could have imagined... bright, smart, beautiful, hard-working, compassionate... thank you God... but damn you time for passing so quickly.

Greg Ellifritz and James Wesley, Rawles have two of the best blogs and any prepper and/or person interested in self-defense and survival should read every post published.

It's going on a year and a half now and I keep thinking of things I should have asked my dad when I still had the chance.

I need to clean the Ruger SR-556.

The doctors better be right about that mass being a cyst... my wife is my main gal, my life, my best friend, my world... I don't show her that enough and I'd be lost without her.

I'm blessed with good friends around here... the kind that would drop and run if you needed them too.

Farming is something I miss... tillage methods have changed, but I used to love the smell of fresh, turned dirt pulling a six-bottom plow through the field... the rumbling of a diesel engine pulling hard... I could cut a pretty straight dead-furrow back in the day.

The university's finances are awfully tight and I'm a non-tenure track faculty in a small program... I need to polish-up the resume... I love teaching... but I also love working with my hands... am I too old to go back to diesel mechanic work?

What changed the deer patterns... does and bucks every night and morning on the trail cams right up until almost Thanksgiving... then nothing.  Is it the coyotes?  Is the rut just over?

How the heck did this country get in such a mess?  "Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding." ~Proverbs 3:5

Why do we like watching the steam from our breath?

Someday, I hope my main gal and I can just spend an evening chatting with Brigid, her words always eloquent and affirm much my own thinking.  Her cooking and recipes make it rough for a dieting fool like me.

I have to get the loader on the tractor before it snows... and put up those marker stakes along the drive.

Where are the deer?

Well I've been lookin' real hard and I'm tryin' to find a job... but it just keeps gettin' tougher every day... but I got to do my part cause I know in my heart I got to please my sweet baby, yeah... well, I ain't superstitious and I don't get suspicious... but my woman is a friend of mine... and I know that it's true that all the things that I do... will come back to me in my sweet time... so keep on rockin' me baby... keep on a rockin' me baby... keep on a rockin' me baby... keep on a rockin' me baby.

Frog Lube is awesome in cold weather... thanks for the heads-up on that, Matt... I still love the smell of Hoppe's No. 9.

It's dark... no deer again... I guess... for today... at least... that ends... The Musings of a Vegetarian Deer Hunter...

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.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Developing the next generation...

Some of you folks who have followed this blog for a while know we work with 4H here in rural Ohio.  Truth be told, just about every part of our lives is built around educating the next generation whether it be my teaching at the university or my main gal's twenty-sixth year in the fifth grade... teaching that is.  Working with the youth, teaching AWANA's or Sunday School, coaching, training, teaching NRA and CCW courses... we've dedicated a lot of ourselves to passing on knowledge and skills to others the best that we can, even in our own family.

Well, we also need to continue that life-long learning ourselves.  My wife and I spent a terrific weekend in southern Ohio attending a 4H Shooting Sports Instructor development workshop.  She picked up the coordinator certification while I spent a couple of days in the classroom and cold, drizzling rain wrapping up the 4H shotgun certification.  We met a lot of good folks, over two-hundred, getting prepared to pass on the shooting sports to the next generation of Americans.

We really feel the youth are our future.  That's just not a cliche' round here.  We've tried to prepare ourselves, our daughter, and all those who we have the privilege to teach and train for the future.  A future where folks are able appreciate the blessings they have and to proudly take care of and provide for themselves while caring for each other.  Isn't that a large part of being a Christian and American is all about?

One of the Bible verses I've really grown to appreciate says in Romans 12:2... "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is - his good, pleasing and perfect will."  That tells me I need to stay out of the ruts and keep learning, every day... about everything I can... particularly about those things that are necessary for me to take care of myself, my family, and other folks... and notice, I said, "me"... not the government.

One thing about trainin' up the next generation in shooting sports... they learn safety, responsibility, a life-long activity... but most importantly... they learn to develop confidence, overcome fears, and gain the personal satisfaction of being able to use and maybe even master a tool of incredible heritage, power, and enjoyment.

Yeah, I'm an idealist... a black-n-white, not much gray, kind of guy.  We're blessed and ultimately try to share our blessings with others... and there's not a whole lot of better ways to do that than... Developing the next generation...

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Ruger Mark III Hunter and Bushnell TRS-25

A little over twenty-five years ago I purchased my first rimfire pistol... a Ruger Mark II Government Target Model in stainless steel.  That gun will literally drill holes with target ammunition.  It's seen a lot of competition, bullseye matches, bowling pin shoots, hunting, and plinking over the years.  After tens of thousands of round or rimfire .22s, it still shoots as well as the day we bought it.  It has been joined over the years by a stainless steel Ruger Mark II 22/45, a blued Ruger Mark III 22/45... and more recently by a stainless steel Ruger Mark III Hunter.

The Ruger Mark III Hunter continues the tradition of reliability and accuracy folks have come to expect from this line of rimfire pistols.  It comes with sharp looking checkered wood grips, a fluted barrel, an optics rail, and a HiViz front sight.  Did I mention the fluted barrel?  Very cool.

The HiViz front sight, when combined with the rear v-notch sight make for quick target acquisition and the HiViz is very bright, even on a cloudy day.  While my gals liked the HiViz front sights, I found the "circle of light" a bit large for my personal tastes appearing to be about a five to seven MOA size to me.  The Ruger Single-Ten I recently bought for my main gal has Williams Firesights which have a much smaller diameter optic rod which I find allows for a little better precision work for me.  As is my typical mode of operation, I did a Loctite job with medium strength thread-locker on the front and rear sight screws once I was sure everything was well sighted in.

While I've not been a fan of optics or red dot sights for Every Day Carry (EDC) guns... competition and hunting handguns are a whole different story.  Cabela's had the Bushnell TRS-25 Red Dot sights for just seventy-nine bucks, so a little Loctite on the screw threads and I mounted the included Ruger optics rail on the Mark III Hunter and then mounted up the TRS-25.

The Bushnell TRS-25 is compact, light-weight, waterproof, has eleven brightness settings and runs off a pretty standard CR2032 battery.  The red dot is small enough to allow for precision work although the "roundness" of the little red dot is not as perfect as our Aimpoint PRO optics... but then again, it's under a hundred bucks.  The gals and I found the TRS-25 to be a terrific optic, with the additional weight hardly being noticeable on the gun.

We've put a couple of thousand rounds through this pistol and optic set-up on sunny days, colder days, and even rainy days.  Typical Ruger reliability is expected and par for the course and as you can see... resting off a plastic barrel on the range... with a crisp breaking, easy trigger-pull... ten CCI Mini-Mag, thirty-six grain, hollow-point .22LRs make for a tight group at twenty-five yards out back on the range.  We've even had tighter groups with various target ammunition, but hey... this gun is the Hunter model so hollow-point accuracy and precision is what counts.

Some of the best fun the gals and I have has is giving the .22 dueling tree a flip-floppin' beat-down out back on the range and this little Ruger does a great job of that.  In fact, my younger gal gave the ol' man a run for the money just the other day on the dueling tree using this gun.  Like Toby Keith says, "I ain't as good as I once was, but I'm as good once as I ever was."

If you're looking for a terrific, accurate plinking, hunting, or target rig in .22 rimfire... a fun gun that's inexpensive to shoot and makes the squirrels quiver with fear... its hard to beat the precision, looks, accuracy, durability, and reliability of the... Ruger Mark III Hunter and Bushnell TRS-25

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Sheepdog 101: Bulletproof your Mind

There are bad and evil people in this world who want to do bad and evil things to other people in this world.  The last few days have served to remind me of that fact.  I listened to photojournalist Ashley Gilbertson speak and share his imagery from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan at Northern Kentucky University as part of a work-related conference I was attending... then my wife and I spend the day at Lt. Col. Dave Grossman's Bulletproof the Mind seminar sponsored by the Buckeye Firearms Association.

Now I know the sheepdog analogy is wearing thin for some folks, but Grossman uses it to make many of his points and while he was mostly preachin' to the choir... it was a dynamic presentation with good data, practical information, and food for thought.  There are still a lot of folks in the denial stage, living out their Pleasant Valley Sunday's until the day a bad or evil person up-ends their life.

I won't attempt to summarize or overview the entire seminar here, but Grossman is a dynamic speaker who believes in what he's doing.  I heard him speak several years ago and have picked up and read most of his books over the years including On Combat, On Killing, Warrior Mindset, and he signed a copy of Stop Teaching Our Children to Kill for my school teacher wife.  While he's provided more depth in other books and talks, this would be a terrific seminar for those who are new to concealed carry, or a sheepdog, or an aware and alert mindset.

The bottom line for my gals and I is that it reinforces our lifestyle.  We don't live in a state of paranoia... we live with awareness and knowledge to determine when a state of alert or alarm is required.  Grossman would say that we live in condition yellow, not white.  Parents, you can train this into your children with simple games... Who sees a woman with a blue purse?  How many license plates have the letter "A" or the number "6"?  How many "EXIT" signs can you see?  How many happy people can you see - why do you think they look happy?  How many unhappy people can you see - why do you think they are unhappy?  Play the games... teach your kids and family to observe and be aware of their surroundings.

The Buckeye Firearms Association reminded everyone about how important Ohio is in this election.  Even local races matter as many of those local folks go on to seek bigger and better elected offices down the road.  I don't speak a lot about politics on this blog, but for me and my gal... who picks the next couple of United States Supreme Court justices are one of our biggest concerns.  Taxes and politicians come and go... the economy goes up and goes down... but the supreme court has, and will have, a greater affect on my family's rights and daily lives as Christians and Gun Owners than almost any other governmental entity.

Speaking of those rights and daily lives, my main gal went out back on the range with me last night to do some shooting like we often do.  She had some new range "bling" in the form of a Ruger Single-Ten single-action revolver I bought her.  Not the best choice for self-defense, but a great choice for a heck of a lot of cheap .22 fun.  She's the best gal ever and she did a great job of taking care of me and lot of the work around here this past summer after my two surgeries and I try to treat her like the terrific gal she is.  She's facing a bit of a health scare right now and that's more than she'd like me to say, but you might keep her in your thoughts and prayers if you think about it.

So be aware, be prepared, and be an example for your kids and others... and even if you don't like the term... be a sheepdog and remember the lesson for today... Sheepdog 101: Bulletproof your Mind