Friday, April 27, 2012

The Sins of My Youth...

Years ago, my friends and I would get our faithful .22s out... you know, those handy rifles that every adolescent boy could have shot the eye of a bird out at a hundred yards or taken Hill 409 with the careful sniping of our tin can enemies... and fill our pockets with half a brick of the cheapest Winchester Wildcats or Remington Thunderbolts our chore allowance could afford... and head out into the country side for some youthful fun and occasional mischief.

There were several lines of old telephone and utility poles that were long out of service along old railroad tracks and through clear-cuts in the woods.  We'd walk along and take shots at any old glass insulators left on their perches, even though it seemed it wasn't long before you had to cover quite a few miles to find any left on the crossbars of the old poles.

I remember one day, just as I was about to put the last little, glinting, glass insulator that I could find on my excursion out of it's misery when... for what ever reason, it was spared only to seek it's own revenge upon me.  I set my rifle down, climbed up that old, dry, creaking wood pole... reached out... carefully un-screwed it from it's perch... and it was mine.  I carefully slipped into my pocket, then as I slid back down that ol' pole...ahhhhrrrgg... it had it's revenge on me with a six-inch long sliver of wood that skewered my inner thigh.. in one side and out the other... just like a regular ol' shish kabob.

Remember not the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways; 
according to your love remember me, for you are good, O LORD.
~Psalm 25:7

Not sure I ever shot a glass insulator off a pole again.  Partly out of respect for the revenge set upon me by that utility pole on behalf of his brethren that had been stripped of their glory by an immature kid and his rifle... and mostly because I realized that the firing of a .22 bullet, or any bullet for that matter, up towards the sky like that was a really, really stupid thing to do.

Over the years, my respect for those glass insulators has grown into a bit of an admiration and even an obsession resulting in a nice collection with some dating back into the 1800s.  Their not really anything artistic or special, just mass-produced pieces of utility history... but I do find them interesting enough to give the gals a bit extra to do when it's time to dust around the house.

Shooting those glass memories of my youth these days is more of a hobby, and done with a camera and some studio lighting.  I still enjoy looking at them even when they're not covered by my front sight.  Who knows, maybe I'm just getting old and makin' good for... The Sins of My Youth...

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Know When to Hold'em or Fold'em...

There's been several recent self-defense shootings around the country, most notably the one in Florida, that have reminded me of a discussion I typically have at the end of teaching an NRA Basic Pistol Course/Ohio CCW course.  Many of my students have a lot of questions about carrying a concealed weapon, anticipating their soon to be Ohio License to Carry a Concealed Hangun... or CCW permit as many folks call it.

Often, a barrel full of lawyers and a dozen prosecutors couldn't produce a tangible answer on using a firearm or other weapon for self-defense if you covered 'em all with honey and tied 'em to an ant hill.  So I provide (I'm not God, your pastor, your mama, or your attorney) some things to think about in light of what my students just learned, along with the Ohio Concealed Carry Handbook, the affidavit they'll be signing when they apply for the license, and my general knowledge gained from many years of experience and reading.

There's things everyone who decides to use a firearm for self-defense needs to think about, consider, re-think, and continually process.  It kind of reminds me of the ol' Kenny Roger's song, The Gambler...

"You got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em,
Know when to walk away and know when to run."

"Ev'ry gambler knows that the secret to survivin'

Is knowin' what to throw away and knowing what to keep."

The Ohio application has a statement that you are swearing to that says, "I desire a legal means to carry a concealed handgun for defense of myself or a member of my family while engaged in lawful activity."  I believe that is a pretty good place to start and I think you really have to be careful when you go beyond that and intervene with your gun on behalf of others.  

I'm ready to give my life or spend time in jail protecting my wife or daughter... I'm not sure I'm ready give my life or spend time in jail protecting your wife or children at the expense of my family's well-being... although my basic instinct and natural inclination is to step in and help.

Ohio has the "Castle Doctrine" that applies in your home and vehicle, but it does not have a "Stand your Ground" law.  The three conditions that legally apply in Ohio, and other states, if you want to claim self-defense for using deadly force are: 

1. You can't be at fault (nor can the person you defended)
2. You must be in fear of immediate death or serious bodily harm.
3. You must show that you could not retreat (or the person you defended does).

The problem with defending others in Ohio and many other places is that even if you fear immediate death or serious bodily harm for someone else, you may not know whether they're at fault or failed to retreat when they were able to or should have.  Now I'm in favor of Stand your Ground laws, but even in states that have such laws, you still can't be found to have "Advanced your Ground" and claim self defense.

Like many folks, I feel this inherent need to help people.  It was there long before my time in law enforcement and it is still there long after, but I'm not afforded the protection, both in terms of criminal and civil liability, that I had as a police officer.  Now before everyone start beatin' up on cops... that's just the way it is... and I whole-heartedly support it for good, honest folks serving in law enforcement.  I don't support it for those few that tarnish the badges of the good ones.

Even if you want to help others in self-defense situations, you should look at all options and consider the consequences of your actions 'cause one second of helping someone else could cost you a life-time of helping your family and those you love... and as a Christian husband and father... that is where my priorities are.

Now, I do believe that others have just as much right to defend themselves as I do, but I can't necessarily assume responsibility for all those who don't take any steps towards assuming responsibility for themselves.  A large part of why I became a firearms instructor years ago was, and is, to help others safely protect themselves and their families while promoting firearm safety and the second amendment.

You'll find a previous post that brings up the topic of what to do after you draw your gun, but today I'm just offering up some discussion on a few things you may need to think about before you draw or fire your gun... especially on behalf of another.  

If you're looking for a good read on what happens after a self-defense shooting, I've got a lot of books on the topic, but a good place to start is with Chris Bird's Thank God I Had a Gun: True Accounts of Self-Defense.  'Cause even if you make it past the cops, the prosecutors, and criminal considerations... you'll likely still have to deal with the attorneys and civil litigation.  Bird has true stories about many scenarios faced before, during, and after folks used a gun for self-defense.

Ultimately, when it comes to self-defense and getting involved, just like the gambler... you need to... Know When to Hold'em or Fold'em...

So what do ya'll think?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Cowboys, Cowgirls, and Couch Potatoes...

Many of us grew up in an age where cowboys like John Wayne and Clint Eastwood were our heroes, Shane didn't really die (or did he) as he road off into the sunset, and spending the afternoon in the fields and woods playing cowboys and indians was just another way of having fun.

That was long before the politically corrected society decided that using your finger and thumb to make a six-shooter could get a five year-old expelled from school and hauled away in hand-cuffs.

Well, playing cowboys and cowgirls is now a significant past-time for many folks with the ever-growing popularity of S.A.S.S. and other shooting sports which offer a far more modern version good guys and bad guys.

With a big, back-slappin' thanks to the likes of Coyote Mike and Billy Goat Bruce... the last couple of years, we've been offering our hundred or so 4H Shooting Sports kids a chance to step into the old west where men were men, gals were gals, and hammers down on empty chambers reminded them that gun safety is the law around this here town.

There's no room for video-gamin' couch potatoes 'round here... when the steel stares you down, the only thing you can do is wait for the "beep" and send plenty of lead down-range.  And folks, let me tell you... this new generation of "everybody wins" falls to the side like spent brass, 'cause everyone here has good, ol' safe fun... but those young cowboys definitely want to know who was the best.

Last night, those cowboys found out just who was the best... a cowgirl!  Yep, don't ever let those fellas be thinkin' they've got one up on a gal, especially a farm-grown, country gal with a gun in her hand.

Sorry boys, when the smoke clears and the gals have cleaned your clocks... there ain't no whining allowed.  So the best advice I can give parents who barely see their kids between the one-hundred and forty-six soccer games and the time they're spending textin' and video-gamin'... maybe it's time your kids quit exercising their textin', gamin' thumbs and start exercising their trigger fingers.

'Cause a trip with the family to the shooting range will surely separate out the Cowboys, Cowgirls, and Couch Potatoes...

Sunday, April 15, 2012

My Little Girl...

My junior gal went to her high school prom for the first time last night...

"Gotta hold on easy as I let you go... Gonna tell you how much I love you... Though you think you already know... I remember I thought you looked like an angel wrapped in pink so soft and warm... You've had me wrapped around your finger since the day you were born."

"You're beautiful baby from the outside in... Chase your dreams but always know the road that'll lead you home again... Go on, take on this whole world... But to me you know you'll always be, my little girl."

"When you were in trouble that crooked little smile could melt my heart of stone... Now look at you, I've turned around and you've almost grown... Sometimes you're asleep I whisper "I Love You" in the moonlight at your door... As I walk away, I hear you say, "Daddy Love You More"."

"You're beautiful baby from the outside in... Chase your dreams but always know the road that'll lead you home again... Go on, take on this whole world... but to me you know you'll always be, my little girl."

You've always looked beautiful in red... and you'll always be... My Little Girl...

[Tim McGraw co-wrote "My Little Girl" and released it in August, 2006... the same summer the above photo of the gals was taken while we were ridin' our dirtbikes.]

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Doin' CCW Math... Because 1 + 1 = 38

There's a lot of talk by folks about many gun-related things in the national news these days, but one thing I like to keep an eye on is the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act.  I think it will be greatly affected by whoever is livin' in the big White House next year... and that whoever will also be affecting who's wearin' those nine black robes and makin' decisions over at SCOTUS.

While the anti-freedom and anti-gun folks want the federal government to control guns, they sure don't want the federal government to allow 'em.  My Ohio Driver License with Motorcycle Endorsement is good in all fifty states, why not my concealed carry license?

So in the place of common sense, I thought some CCW math might interest ya'll.  As an Ohio resident, I have an Ohio License to Carry a Concealed Handgun (OLCCH).  The State of Ohio has reciprocity agreements with twenty-three states.  There are an additional eight states that recognize Ohio's license, but Ohio doesn't recognize their licenses.  So one equals thirty-one... got that?

I also have a New Hampshire Non-Resident Pistol/Revolver License (NHNRPRL)... where did that CCW acronym come from anyway?  This license is good in twenty-five states, and when combined with my Ohio license... I can now exercise my second amendment rights and God-given freedom to protect myself and my gals in thirty-seven states.

Now I am in the process of applying for a non-resident Florida Concealed Weapon or Firearm Permit (FCWFP).  The Florida permit is good for thirty-five states, and when combined with my Ohio license... I'm good and legal to protect myself and my family in thirty-eight of the fifty states in the great country.

So... 1 + 1 + 1 = 38

Truthfully, I probably won't renew my New Hampshire license after it expires.  I originally chose it over Florida because New Hampshire was only charging twenty bucks at the time, but my last renewal jumped up to an even Franklin C-note.  Florida charges non-residents one-hundred and seventeen Washington's... so that's why I'm applying in the Sunshine State... simple CCW math... right?

Now if this is all a bit confusing and the ol' abacus isn't figuring out... or your shoes are off and you can't get past twenty... you might want to check out to help you figure out your CCW math. 

And that's why I'm... Doin' CCW Math... Because 1 + 1 = 38

Sunday, April 8, 2012

This broke-tail mutt ain't worth it...

We happen to have two dogs in the family.  Ruger is our pure-bread German Shepherd with both German and Czech blood-lines.  He's a magnificent fellow, and all you would expect from a well-bred, well-raised dog.  Our other dog is Sasha...

After our last Husky passed a couple of years ago, the gals wanted another dog again pretty quick, so we decided to visit the county humane society.  Our area was and still is having it harder than most with this rough economy and the shelters and humane societies are overloaded with unwanted dogs.

Now when selecting anything, you usually look for the best qualities that... forget it... we came home with the sorriest, four-month old pup that had been born in another shelter, transferred to our county humane society, was scared of it's own shadow, had a broken tail, and looked like a wet rat.

Sasha was scared to even put her feet down on the grass as she had never been beyond concrete and chain-link kennels in her entire, short life.  She took a while to house-break, squatted and pee'd at the sight of strangers - especially men, chewed on everything, and destroyed stuff around the house.  She wasn't much at grooming herself, probably due to having been separated from her mother without any time for weaning, and seemed to find every little spot of water in the yard that she could turn into a mud hole to "waller" around in.

She barks at just about everything non-stop and indiscriminately, unlike Ruger who barks only when something needs barked at and when he does, you'd better go see what it is.  We have to wipe and hose down Sasha constantly, and the back door and kitchen are always a mess needing swept and mopped daily, which is a bit of contention between the gals and myself... I've threatened to part with this mutt on numerous occasions and I've never willingly parted with a dog in my life, but we keep taking care of her and she's developed a pretty good personality.

Now I know dogs and people ain't the same thing, but when I think about how much this mutt annoys me at times, I remember that I can be pretty annoying myself... I know, hard to believe, but just ask the gals.

A day like Easter takes me back to a bit of thinking that, when the church services are over, the prayers said, our Gracious God thanked and honored for the sacrifice of his son's life, the debt on my behalf that Jesus paid...

"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."
~John 15:13

Sometimes I look in the mirror... stare at myself and wonder why God did it... because I often think... This broke-tail mutt ain't worth it...

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Stopped by the hardware store: Ruger SR-556c

That beautiful redheaded gal I'm married to recently allowed me to stop by the local hardware store to pick up a new power tool and some accessories.  For some time now, I've been looking pretty closely at some of the power tool offerings over at Daniel Defense and BCM, and I'm not in any way complaining, but knowing I'm a Ruger fan... she's a great gal, I'm tellin' ya...  a Ruger SR-556c was at the counter with my name on it.

One thing I like about power tools is all the accessories you can get.  I've fired a number of ARs and even a select fire M16 over the years, but this is my first time outfitting an M4-style, flat-top AR from scratch... so we'll eventually find out which accessories are useful and which ones end up in the bottom of the tool box.  The Tapco Buttpad is more to keep the butt-stock protected and reduce the chances of the rifle sliding around when I lean it up against the gun bench out back.

Those Ruger-branded folding Troy Battle Sights seem like a great iron-sight solution, but I thought maybe they would be better off working as a back-up for an AimPoint PRO red-dot sight, complete from the factory with a riser.

There was an extra Streamlight TLR-1s laying around in the gun room so I ordered a remote pressure switch set-up and hung the light on the front end just ahead of a Magpul AFG2 angled fore-grip.

Ruger provided a set of rail covers from Troy Industries and they also included a pretty nice soft-case that holds the rifle, mags, accessories, and other items you might need while working on your various DIY projects.

The Hogue rubber grip is straight from the factory while the Troy Professional Grade Rifle Sling Adapter is something I added for use with a single-point Troy Battle Sling.

Three PMAG 30 magazines by Magpul came with the gun, but I went ahead and ordered a few more as you can never have enough extra magazines around.

Now I'm no expert when it comes to black rifles and black rifle hardware, but I figured this would be a good start for this particular rifle and we'll see how things hold up over time, get changed, repositioned, swapped out, and modified.  After some significant time and use, we'll learn how a piston AR runs, if carrier-tilt is a problem, how the accuracy works out, and I'll post a full review of my experiences.

One thing I do know, I'm very glad I... Stopped by the hardware store: Ruger SR-556c