Thursday, May 31, 2012

Back-Up Shoes and footwear fashion for gals...

There are quite a few differences between men and women, but nothing seems to emphasize this more than the way we go about choosing what we wear, particularly when it comes to footwear.  Most guys I know have a very limited selection of footwear choices at home... but when it comes to footwear for gals... it's kind of like guns... if you know how many you have, you don't have enough.

Most gals I know love to have terrific footwear to accentuate their outfits and fashion.  With that being said, I should first offer up that ladies footwear is not my area of expertise, but like most men... we try to be observant of the gals in our lives.  I see a lot of gals that are wearing shoes and other footwear that look awesome, but except for some casual walking... would be completely useless if a gal had to run or spend much time in an adverse environment such as bad weather.

I left my man-card on the dashboard of our Ford F150 last night, so let me use that as an excuse to offer a quote from Sex and the City...
Miranda: “I had to walk all the way from the subway in these heels. My feet are killing me.”
Steve: “Why didn’t you just carry them and wear sneakers like everyone else?”
Miranda: “Stop. You can take me out of Manhattan but you can’t take me out of my shoes.”

Gals, there is absolutely nothing wrong with wearing cool, trendy, sexy, and/or fashionable footwear... I'm just suggesting that, like folks who carry an extra magazine of ammo or a Back-Up Gun (BUG), you should consider some Back-Up Shoes (BUS) and keep a pair of more comfortable, back-up footwear handy at work, in the car, or elsewhere.

There may come a time that due to a change in the weather, your building needing to be evacuated, your vehicle breaking down, or encountering some two-legged varmints... that you will need a more practical... or tactical... footwear choice.  It never hurts to be prepared.

I posed this thought to Shelley Rae... the talented writer, editor, and shooter from Gun Nuts Media who is currently the editor of the recently introduced Western Shooting Journal... and she said...
"I have a good set of Puma flats that are well padded and actually work for extended wear. All of Puma's flats have a good midsole and mine have padded heels which is really nice. Keeping athletic shoes in the car is a great idea, but the flats actually fit in my purse which works well when I'm out to dinner or at the bars so I have them with me at all times."

Flip-flops are fun, but they're not much good for rough and rocky terrain or mud and snow.  I know a lot of country gals out here where we live wear cowboy boots, work boots, hiking boots, and muck boots, but not all the time and you might even want to keep a pair of those handy to change into after a day or night on the town.  You never know when you might want to take a ride on the big green tractor.

And nobody ever said a pair of boots can't be stylish.

My wife is a school teacher and like nurses and many other professions, she spends most of her day on her feet... fashionable is good, but comfortable is better.  My gals try to always have an extra pair of comfortable footwear handy just like Shelly Rae... and we all have a pair of good, all-terrain walking shoes we wore for a month to break in and then tucked them into our Bug Out Bags (BOBs). 

So whether you're at work or out for a night on the town... and you don't want sore feet if you're packin' heat... you might want to consider taking along some extra footwear... so consider some... Back-Up Shoes and footwear fashion for gals...

So gals, what are YOUR thoughts on this subject?

Monday, May 28, 2012

Ruger SR9 and SR9c Centerfire Pistols

About five years ago, my now sixteen-year old daughter was reaching the age, ability, and maturity to handle a full-size centerfire pistol for both recreation and personal defense.  Rather than everyone in the family having a different handgun with different ammo sizes and magazines, the gals and I were looking for standard semi-auto handgun that worked well for all of us.

We had quite a few different handguns already and had access to most pistols from major manufacturers in the popular and common calibers of 9mm, .40S&W, and .45ACP.  At the time I was really looking hard at the Glock 17 and 19 models, but the gals weren't big fans of either gun in terms of ergonomics.  Admitting my bias for everything and anything Ruger, I was still hesitant about the new SR9 due to it's early recall in the first year of production.

I purchased the first full-size SR9 about four years ago... a post recall model.  The gals really loved shooting that gun.  After a year or so we decided the Ruger SR9 and Ruger SR9c centerfire pistols would be our primary defensive handguns for the family around the home and for concealed carry.

We all have access to the same guns that operate the same way, take the same cartridge, use the same magazines, take-down and re-assemble the same way... well, you get the point... when we're together at home or out and about... our family can work as a defensive unit... not as three folks who have no idea what the other folks are trying or likely to do.

Now there's dozens of reviews already out there if you're looking for the specifications, general impressions, cool photos, and other information.  What I'm talkin' bout here is our experiences with these guns, along with our impressions and thoughts... both good and bad.

We've now had extensive experience firing several of these guns.  With over a thousand rounds through every SR9 or SR9c we own, we have had no practical problems whatsoever.  One of our SR9's now has over ten-thousand rounds through it as our primary practice gun... in fact, it is the gun I used to go after Todd Green's 2,000 Round Challenge a while back.  You can see the rules here.

I did violate his first rule because I didn't clean and lubricate the SR9 before beginning the test, we just took it out of the box, checked the bore, and started shootin'... and after about five-hundred rounds each week... we hit two-thousand... and... and nothing.  No stoppages, no stove pipes, no failure to feeds... failures to extract or eject... no broken parts, no problems.

I decided to keep going past 2,000 and after 2,619 rounds... number 2,620 ended with a stove-pipe.  We fed that SR9 Winchester white box, Federal, and American Eagle 115 grain 9mm FMJ's, Federal 147 grain Hydra-Shoks, and our current defensive handgun cartridge of choice... 124 grain +P, bonded bullet, hollow-point Winchester PDX1's.

We cleaned that dirty and gritty SR9 up and now... a few rounds past 10,200 through it... it still runs like new... and we've had only three stoppages... the stove-pipe at 2,620 and two failure to fires during the next 7,000 rounds fired with two Winchester white box cartridges that both had clear, deep primer punch marks from the firing pin... so I'm countin' them as duds.  What can I say, we're very happy with the performance of these guns.

I should also mention that this particular SR9 has a Streamlight TLR-1s weapon light mounted to the rail... as do all our home defense handguns... which has been through over 7,000 of those 10,000-plus rounds fired with the light having been on for probably 1,000 rounds without any problems from the light or the gun.

The SR9c is an excellent companion to the SR9 for concealed carry, although I've personally carried both concealed with no real problems.  The SR9c has three magazine options including the ten-round flat floor-plate option, the ten-round finger-extension floor-plate option, and seventeen-round full-length with grip extension option.  With the ten-round magazine and one in the chamber on my right side and the seventeen-round magazine on my left side... I've got twenty-eight rounds ready when carrying concealed with the SR9c.

One thing I do like about the SR9c is that it is smaller, but still feels like a full-size gun to us... unlike the Ruger LC9, the Sig Sauer 238, the Kel-Tec PF-9, Glock 26, or the Smith & Wesson Shield... which feel a bit small in the hand.  The SR9c's sight radius is only one-half inch shorter than the full-size SR9.  I typically carry our Ruger SR9's and SR9c's concealed in a Galco Cop Slot 3 holster, my Maxpedition VersiPack Jumbo, or a Fobus Holster.  I'm in the process of looking at purchasing a Raven holster and magazine holder to try out which will likely result in more new additions to the holster box

The triggers on all of our SR9's and SR9c's have been terrific right out of the box and I'm pleased with the consistent reset.  The precision and accuracy with these guns has been great for all three of us.  The SR9 can produce groups off the bench rest at twenty-five yards that are better than most shooters can produce off-hand at twenty-five feet.

While I'm not personally the biggest fan of three-dot sights, we still have the original sights on all of our guns...although some of those white dots have met their demise.  I've been looking at some tritium replacements, but with the weapon lights... the tritium sights seem less needed, but I may add just a tritium front sight on each gun... still in the evaluation process there and considering AmeriGlo.

Now let's talk about the good and the not so good...

The Good: The SR9 and SR9c have great reliability, incredible precision, and accuracy... while you can measure with a ruler, they are and feel slender in the hand, particularly where the web of the hand meets the grip, with a good grip texture which pleases me and the gals... a good, consistent trigger pull and break... easy break down for cleaning with no tools... you can "feel" these guns in the dark with the loaded chamber indicator on top of the slide and cocked striker indicator at the rear of the slide... we love the holes in the magazines that give a visual of how many rounds are still loaded... the rear sight is easily adjusted with a screw-driver for elevation and drifted left or right by loosening a set screw... there's a reversible back-strap insert that can be changed from flat to arched... and the guns have ambidextrous safeties and magazine releases... you can get the guns in either stainless or blackened stainless... I've had a number of students in my NRA/Ohio CCW courses use these guns and everyone who has tried them like the ease of operation, accuracy, and they shoot pretty well with them... like everything Ruger, they have a great company backing them up and are one-hundred percent made in America...

The Not So Good: These guns are available in all fifty states which means they have a magazine disconnect which prevents you from firing a round still in the chamber while switching magazines... Ruger makes both the SR9/SR40 and the SR9c/SR40c for law enforcement without the magazine disconnect... oh, don't get me started... also, the slide stop is just that, a slide stop, not a release so you have to cycle the slide fully to the rear with your hand to chamber a cartridge rather than just hit the slide release... now that is a deal-breaker for some, but I've timed myself and there is about a half-second difference for me when reloading and I'm gettin' old... so that's something else you'll have to consider about these guns... Ruger recommends you have an empty magazine inserted when dry-firing the gun, which we do for practice... and finally, I wish Ruger had also put the SR9c's front slide serrations on the SR9 to compliment the rear serrations on both guns...

While I admit my Ruger bias... I'll go beyond the rhetoric... 'cause we're bettin' our lives on the... Ruger SR9 and SR9c Centerfire Pistols...

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Facebook... we'll see how it goes...

Bloggin' is something I really enjoy... it's relaxing, fun, and I've met and been acquainted with a lot of good folks out here in the blogosphere.  Usually, I try to post a couple of times each week, because I enjoy my God, Gals, Guns, and Grub far too much to let this bloggin' thing become to much like work. 

Sometimes I have a quick thought or an interesting link I come across, but the blogosphere is filled with folks keepin' us up on the day-to-day news and affairs of this third rock from the sun... so I'm going to try supplementing the blog with a Facebook page.

We'll see how it goes... if it's a value-added fun sort of thing... we'll keep it... if not... well, we'll just recycle those electrons.  The plan is to keep the blog the main thing... but maybe the Facebook page will allow a little more conversation.

So... Facebook... we'll see how it goes...

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Homeland security begins at home...

We're fortunate to live where we want to live.  It's not as remote as a retreat in Idaho, but it's not as congested as a city or suburb.  We do our best to take care of our own and we love being part of a tight-knit, small town, rural community with good neighbors, friends, and an active local church... but even out here we have our share of two-legged varmints, meth-heads, and other idiots.  We have a good sheriff's department, but with budget cuts and a large rural county, they can't be everywhere and response times vary from minutes to half-an-hour.

We've been the victims of theft and burglary a couple of times in this life, the most recent was three years ago when some two-legged varmints broke into our barn and stole three dirtbikes and some nice powertools.  Total real-dollar loss for us was around ten-grand... total insurance coverage after deductibles, depreciation, blue-book value, etc.; was about six-grand... but luckily it was just "stuff"... my main concern is my gals and so far... the varmints have left the house alone.

Now, I'm no home security expert... but a few years of experience in law enforcement, a sheepdog mentality, and a life-time of continual learning... we've taken steps to protect ourselves and our "stuff", but mostly ourselves as you can always get more "stuff".  I like the physical barrier provided by the ditch and the two-hundred feet of yard between the road and the house.

We have bushes planted under the exterior windows of our home and a fenced area for the dogs behind the house, all of which provide more physical barriers for those who want to access our home when they're not welcome.  Yeah... trimmin' those bushes is still on the honey-do list this for this spring.

Our exterior doors have regular door knobs with locks plus deadbolts and chains.  The traditional short screws used to mount the hinges to the weak, soft-wood door frames have been replaced with three-and-a-half inch screws that go all they way into the studs beyond the door frames... probably the cheapest security you can do for your home.  We've replaced the light-weight strike plates with heavy-duty strike plates from Ace Hardware, again using the long screws.  Even the door chains have the larger, longer screws attaching the hardware and securing it into the studs beyond the door frames. 

A security system for the home has two internal and a large external siren that will practically deafen an intruder and you.  We want to make a lot of noise as the typical response time for the sheriff's department is not ideal with the large area they have to cover.  We've posted the security system stickers at every door and likely entry point to the house... and as of three years ago... the barn too.  It may not deter everyone, but it may deter some.

Our system is wireless, working off the cell towers in the area and has battery back-up, so cutting the phone lines or electricity to the home does nothing to disable the system... and we haven't had a "land-line" for telephone use 'round here for years.  Our system, like many, allows you to call fire, police, EMS, and if someone ever has a gun to your head and you're under duress... and they're asking you to disable your alarm system... you can enter a code that appears to turn the alarm system off, but actually sends a silent panic alarm to the alarm company.

And break the habit... I've found my wife... when we first installed the system years ago... and other friends and family who have alarms seem to have an immediate reaction to stop the siren rather than look at the alarm system and see what alarm sensor indicates a problem or breach.  Let the siren scream, until you know why.

Our one car, used primarily by my daughter who is now sixteen, sits outside.  We do not leave a garage door opener in the car for any thief to access by an unlocked car door or breaking a car window.  We installed a wireless Genie Intellicode key pad which we are able to re-program and allows my daughter, us, or our neighbors to access our garage.  The door from the garage to the house is still alarmed and kept locked.

I'm always surprised by how may people leave their home wide-open when they are at home or even away for short periods of time.  If we're home, the doors are usually locked.  If we're working around the yard... and move to the back or even are in the field behind the house... we don't leave our front door or garage door wide-open.  You might run to get some gas for the lawn mower... you'll only be gone for ten minutes, but you leave the garage door open, the door from the garage to the house unlocked, and your wife wonders how the stranger confronting her in your kitchen or living room got into the house... well... duh!

Another area you might consider is exterior and interior lighting for security.  We have multiple exterior lights on the house and barn we can use to light up our area which tends to be very dark at night without the typical ambient light found in town.  Do you have flashlights or weapon lights ready at hand?  Do you know which lights to turn on and not turn on if you suspect an intruder?

The lights in the photograph are right next to our sliding glass patio door that leads onto the deck behind our house.  They're purposely mounted at eye-level which might seem low to some folks, but at night, when they're turned on... you can't look at our sliding glass patio doors without being blinded... which gives me visual concealment when looking out the patio doors.

Of course, I can't mention anything about home security without mentioning that many two-legged varmints are more deterred by the presence of a dog than just about anything else.  Sorry cat-lovers... most folks are not scared of a cat.  Our dogs are not trained security dogs... they're trained family pets, but you learn to watch and listen to them... and they are definitely our first-alert system.  Thank you Sasha and Ruger... good dogs and good security.

This is not a comprehensive home security discussion.  My intent was more to get you thinking about you and your situation, maybe consider some of the more basic, less costly things we've attempted to do, and maybe some of you folks will provide us some good tips and thoughts as we're always learning too.

No matter what steps you take... Homeland security begins at home...

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Five Bucks: Dot, Dot, Dot Targets...

I've been making and using dot targets for a quite a few years now.  The cool thing about dot targets is that you can stick dots (sometimes called labels) on just about anything to give a shooter a bulls-eye to shoot at... but don't stick them on the in-laws and ex's.

You can find dot labels at any office supply store or even your local Wally World.  The name brand dots run a little more, but you can often find a package of off-brand dot labels for less than five bucks.

As a long time NRA and 4H Shooting Sports certified instructor, I'm very familiar with the nine-inch plain targets...we call our fine redneck china... or paper plates as you call them... to build the fundamental skills including sight alignment and sight picture without worrying about hitting the bulls-eye.  Occasionally, a student will have trouble getting a group without more of a focal point on the target (yes, you focus on the front sight... I'm talkin' bout something more particular to aim at) and a dot usually will help them tighten their groups right up.

You can even add dots to existing targets to make the bulls-eye stand out a little more like these Midway USA Pistol Targets that are free to download.  I printed them on some yellow card stock so they're a little stiffer like the paper plates... and then they don't flap around in the wind so much.

A little hint if you're staple-gunning targets to a backboard... just put one-half of the staple into the target... they're much easier to remove... and if you're at a club or a public range... pull out your staples too.

Now if you want to use some dot targets to challenge yourself, make a bit of fun for the 4H Shooting Sports youth or other kids... especially those youngsters in their thirties and forties... here's a few suggestions to get you started:

Make My Day... or sometimes called Hollywood Mel for it's introduction in the movie Lethal Weapon.

Fast Five... great for trigger control... try to hit five for five in five shots... and there are many other variations that can be applied such as shooting a specific pattern or sequence.

Rockin' Round the Clock... You can time yourself and see how long or how many shots it takes you to work your way 'round the clock... or put up two targets and shoot against a friend in a game kind of like horse... take turns taking shots and see who makes it 'round first.

Call Out... this is a critical thinking game where the shooter can either face the target or you self-defense practicing folks can face away from the target then turn towards it and draw... have another friend time you... we use our Pact Club Shot Timer 3... and the person timing calls out a color then immediately starts the timer... you have to shoot all the dots of the color that was called out.

Sea Battle... a classic take on the game Battle Ship, except you and a friend take turns shooting and sinking your opponent's ships on the target buy hitting the dots.  Remember, close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.

Extinction... See if you can eliminate the last of the prehistoric beasts, particularly the purple ones.

Johnny Appleseed... Johnny may have planted those apple trees all over the place, but someone has to pick'em and why not shoot'em down off that tree.

You can use these stick-on dots to turn just about anything into a target... even cats... oh, alright... I'm just kidding... use your head... be creative and have some fun.... and to save some arguments that will occur as egos get bruised... if the shot touches... even just the edge of the dot... it counts!

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

Monday, May 14, 2012

Shootin' to Kill...

We packed up all the 4H shooting gear Saturday afternoon and as I headed back to my horseless carriage parked by the fifty-yard rifle and pistol range, my curiosity got the better of me.  I saw a young couple practicing downrange with a handgun about fifteen feet from their target.  The young fellow was teaching his gal how to drop to one knee and shoot the "leg" of the cardboard bad guy.

They were friendly folks and I never really met a stranger, so as we chatted... he explained that his gal wasn't too sure about using a gun to kill someone unless it was absolutely necessary, so he was helpin' her learn how to shoot the legs of the bad guy to wound, rather than kill, the two-legged, cardboard varmint.

This is actually a concern I've spoken with many folks about over the years through informal conversation as an NRA and Ohio CCW instructor, and even years ago as a police officer.  Some folks want to carry a gun to "scare" the two-legged varmints while others only want to wound them... 'cause they aren't sure they want to actually kill anyone... even someone threatening serious physical harm or death.

Now I've explained this many times over the years and I'd just like to be clear... guns and firearms ain't for scarin' or woundin'... they're for killin'.  Yeah... yeah... I know... you weren't trying to kill the idiot who attacked you... you were just in fear for your life, fired in self-defense... to stop him from takin' your life... we aren't supposed to shoot to kill, were only supposed to shoot to stop the action of the aggressor threatening our life.

Ohio Revise Code Section 2923.11(A) “Deadly weapon” means any instrument, device, or thing capable of inflicting death, and designed or specially adapted for use as a weapon, or possessed, carried, or used as a weapon.

Now... I'm not an attorney... but in Ohio, like many states, a firearm is defined by law as a deadly weapon while in other states, case precedents by the courts have determined it to be a deadly weapon.  Any use of a firearm, hence a deadly weapon, is the use of deadly force whether it is used to scare someone, wound them, or kill them... and if you fire a shot in the air to scare someone... a prosecutor will very well argue that you used deadly force against someone else... you're just a dang poor marksman.  Oh... and remember... that shot fired in the air... those things eventually come down, ya know.

This is why, as an instructor, when it comes to personal or home defense... I advise that if you're not mentally prepared or willing to take a life... you're probably better off using a less-than-lethal option or calling 911 than to show or brandish a gun that you won't actually fire in self-defense... because if you point a gun at an intruder and you're not willing to pull the trigger... who knows, the intruder might be willing to pull the trigger after he takes it away from you.

Also, the reason most folks train to shoot center of mass with possibly a follow up to head is it increases the chances of hitting your threat, hitting a vital area, and stopping them... and is also the most likely way to result in killin' your threat.  Trying to hit a moving knee or leg using a handgun from any distance is probably an almost impossible, if not just lucky, proposition when under attack and under stress.

When I carry or keep a firearm for self-defense... it is used just for that purpose... to defend myself or my family from anyone or anything that wants to kill or seriously harm us.  I realize that by law, my firearm is a deadly weapon and when used for self-defense it can only be deployed to counter a threat of death or serious bodily harm... not because someone's dog took a dump in the yard or vandalized my truck.

Please make no mistake... if and when I'm shootin' a firearm in self-defense... I'm shootin' to stop the immediate threat of death or serious bodily harm... which means I'm using a deadly weapon...

...which means without the political correctedness (and by Ohio law)...

I'm... Shootin' to Kill...

PS:  We've got some designer jeans... pre-washed... pre-holed... and cheap!

UPDATE: To clarify... the old jeans in the photos are my daughter's and the photos were taken for illustrative purposes... the actual "legs" target I saw being used by other folks on the range Saturday was made out of cardboard...

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Sheepdog 101: Do you...

There are times that I over-think things... well... I pretty much over-think everything... all the time.  The redheaded gal who married me says, "he's not an optimist or a pessimist, he's an analyst... which at times sounds like a pessimist... until you realize he's doing it for all the right reasons... in his mind."

I do try to maintain balance in life... between family and work... between being prepared and being paranoid... between living life and being consumed by it.  I'm methodical and meticulous, but I don't think I'm obsessive... wait... the gals are laughing out loud in the background as I typed those last few words.

OK, so maybe I am a little obsessive about things... but you won't find a compound built from shipping containers around here... well, maybe a bunker.  I guess the point of all this is to ask some questions of you folks that I've asked myself... maybe to start a conversation... maybe to learn... and always to analyze... and mostly because my dog Ruger is tired of listening to me theorize and hypothesize... so with that being said... Do you...

Do you carry your firearm at home?
Do you have a firearm ready at hand while you're at home?
Do you lock your doors while you're at home? During the day? During the night?
Do you have a fire plan?
Do you have a tornado plan?
Do you have an intruder plan?
Do you practice your plans?
Do you have food stored for you and your family? For a week? For a year?
Do you have preparations for an extended electrical outage?
Do you have an alarm system?
Do you have a safe room?
Do you practice shooting regularly? Self-defense? Making a fire?
Do you have alternative methods of communication?
Do you have a Bug Out Bag?
Do you have emergency supplies in your car? At work?
Do you have your spouse, significant other, and kids trained for an emergency?
Do you have medical supplies on hand?
Do you know your neighbors?
Do you run your vehicle below a 1/4th of a tank of fuel before filling up?
Do you have some cash tucked away and accessible if the banks are closed?
Do you have silver and gold coins or bullion tucked away?
Do you have adequate ammunition and parts for your guns?
Do you read something of substance each day?
Do you know how to physically defend yourself?
Do you have a plan for water besides the faucet in your sink?
Do you make time for your family? With them... not watching them like at soccer.
Do you check your vehicles' oil and tire pressure at least weekly?
Do you give your vehicle the "walk-a-round" before you get in and drive off?
Do you have a second mode of transportation besides your main vehicle?
Do you carry a back-up gun?
Do you know at least three different ways to get home from work? school? town?
Do you have any regulary used medications stocked up?
Do you have an extra set of eye-glasses that are current in prescription?
Do you take opportunities to learn like training classes or other education regulalry?
Do you save a portion of your income for emergencies?
Do you really need ______ or whatever it is you're about to buy?
Do you take time for you?
Do you have an activity that your entire family participates in regularly?
Do you have a dog?
Do you have reinforced deadbolt locks on your doors?
Do you have a substantial gun safe? (substantial as in construction, not size)
Do you have smoke detectors? Fire extinguishers? Carbon-monoxide detectors?
Do you know how to tie knots?
Do you know God?
Do you conceal carry while shooting your rifle at the gun club or shooting range?
Do you carry a knife?
Do you have kids who know what to do if grabbed or attacked?
Do you have an attorney?
Do you know what poison ivy and poison oak look like?
Do you have a flashlight handy?
Do you know how to use a compass?
Do you have and know how to read and use maps?

Well, I guess that's enough for now... I'll have to get back on the John Deere tractor and mow some more... as that is some of my best thinkin' time... just like plowing and working ground was when I was growing up. Do you carry you gun while doing yard work?  Ooops... couldn't help myself.

So, the primary question you need to think about from this lesson in Sheepdog 101: Do you...

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Gone in a flash...

We live quite a ways out from the nearest city and it always amazes me how dark it can get when there isn't much ambient light around like you'd find in town.  Over the years, I've known a lot of folks... even a few in law enforcement, the military, and competition shooters... that have shot for many years and yet have never fired a gun in the dark like a basement without lights or the darkness of a moonless night. 

No matter how good you think you are, how awesome those tritium sights are you've watched as you've shot or dry-fired a thousand times, or how bright that weapon light is... when you shoot in the dark, you need to be ready for the muzzle flash created by your guns and the brief re-adjustment you'll need because of it.

Now in the photos I've taken to illustrate my point, you'll see that with regular, off-the-shelf factory ammunition... handguns like the Ruger LCR revolver firing 130 grain .38 Special +P's and the Ruger SR9 semi-auto pistol with a Streamlight TLR-1s mounted on the rail firing 124 grain 9mm +P's can give you a pretty good muzzle flash just a couple of feet in front of your face.

Use of a flashlight or weapon light might mitigate some of the adjustment needed, but that's assuming you have it on constantly... which often I don't.  I tend to turn it on as needed, especially if I don't want to give away my location or position.... and in the dark of the night, you'll probably not see your hands and firearm like you do in these photos as you won't have a camera with a flash unit lighting things up.

A couple of shots fired in a row can leave your field of vision dark with a few spots as your eyes momentarily adjust.  We're fortunate with our own shooting range out back to be able to occasionally... if not regularly... practice shooting in low-light, dark, or even pitch-black conditions.

You'll also find that different firearms and ammunition combinations produce different amounts of muzzle flash, and a flash-hider or flash suppressor on a gun... like the Ruger SR-556c above... can greatly reduce the muzzle flash. You can see just a hint of the glow from the burning powder about three inches out from the muzzle and a few spots venting through the flash hider/suppressor.

If you want to practice in the dark or experience the actual muzzle flash from your firearms, you might check with a local range and see if they have a time or the willingness to allow time to be scheduled to practice shooting in low-light or dark conditions.  I know some indoor ranges have low-light scenarios set up for IDPA, three-gun, and other competitions.  Just remember... always be sure of your target and what is beyond it... especially in low-light or dark conditions.

Finally, on a side note... if you've ever wondered about or been a student of mine and heard my instruction about watching your thumb placement, especially for folks with big hands and short, snubby revolvers... you can see the gases escaping in the tiny gap between the front of the cylinder and the breech end of the barrel.  You don't want your thumb covering that area.

So if you haven't practiced in the dark lately... or ever... you might want to plan ahead and give it a try... otherwise when things go bump in the night and nocturnal predators are threatening... if you're not ready...

You're night vision... or you... could be... Gone in a flash...

Friday, May 4, 2012

CRKT Eat'N Tool

We're continually updating our prepping plans, stores, and gear.  Over the years, the contents of our Bug-Out-Bags (B.O.B.s) have changed and evolved to reduce weight and provide more workable options and anytime we can find one tool that does the jobs of several, it gets a thorough lookin' over.

We added some CRKT Eat'N Tools to the B.O.B.s well over a year ago and I've been carrying one with my Maxpedition Jumbo VersiPack... which is my go-to, every-day, man-bag I've had for about four years.

The CRKT Eat'N Tool is made from stainless steel, has a variety of functions including sporkin', bottle-openin', wrenchin', screwdriv'n, and pryin' or diggin'.  It's small, light-weight, comes with a caribiner to attach to your gear, and has a big ol' finger or thumb hole in the middle which really helps in using it since it isn't a very long tool.  We've found that even though it lacks a knife blade, the wide-tipped screwdriver works well for cuttin' through your grub.

It's light-weight, but maybe not as light as some of the titanium options out there... then again... you can find them for six to eight bucks online and they also come in black for those of you who eat while you're goin' tactical.  So if you're tired of eatin' with your fingers while you're campin' or buggin' out...

You might want to consider a... CRKT Eat'N Tool.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


There's a lot of folks in this country who have forgotten the freedoms they were granted by God and our forefathers who feel they need to limit the freedoms of others due to their own ignorance and short-comings.  Some of the ne'er-do-well, do-gooders feel they know better than parents when it comes to raisin' kids.  So they've decided they now know what's best for farm kids.

Now I know first-hand that farms can be a dangerous place, but for the most part... any problems that are occurring are possibly due to a lack of parenting and bad luck, but not a lack of laws and regulations.  While I grew up around the farm (we don't currently live on a traditional farm), we currently live out in farm country on some acreage with neighbors who farm and we work with 4H kids, many of whom live on working farms and of all the things folks need on the farm, more government regulation ain't one of them... especially when it tells us how to raise our kids.

Life is always a risk, particularly if you're livin' it to the fullest extent.  The only way to minimize it's risks to your kids is to raise 'em right.  You need to be involved, you need to educate them... and as a college professor... I ain't talkin' bout schoolin'... I'm talkin' about parenting.

Every kid is different, and if you know your kids... you'll know their capabilities and limitations... and if you take the time... you'll teach them more than anyone or any institution ever will.  I'm sure some city folks think we're nuts, but we're raisin' a country girl.

My daughter was riding motorcycles before she was born.  She shot her first gun and was zoomin' around the field out back on a go-cart by the time she was five.  She was given her first rifle at seven... a pistol and a dirtbike at eight... we let her drive and operate the John Deere diesel tractor at twelve... and when it was time for her temporary driving permit... she took the test for both her driving and motorcycle permits the same day and now has her license with a motorcycle endorsement at sixteen... but that still doesn't mean she hops on the motorcycle and heads out wherever she wants, whenever she wants.

Now I know not every kid is ready for things at the same time or a specific age, but that's where parenting... not the government comes in.  My main gal and I are both parents and professional educators, so education is in our blood.  We try to teach our daughter everything we can and things we don't know... we learn or seek out ways to learn.  While I taught my little gal to ride a motorcycle, we also took her to Honda's Dirtbike School to learn more and when she was old enough for a license, she went to the Motorcycle Safety Foundation's Basic Rider Course.

4H Shooting Sports and NRA Basic Firearm courses have supplemented our raisin' and teachin' our little gal in the proper and safe use of firearms... all without the help of the government.  Kids don't need regulations, they need parents and I truly am wary of the government as noted by a Senator from Kansas on this farm matter:

“The consequences of the things that you put in your regulations lack common sense... And in my view, if the federal government can regulate the kind of relationship between parents and their children on their own family’s farm, there is almost nothing off-limits in which we see the federal government intruding in a way of life.” ~Senator Jerry Moran (R) of Kansas.

So parents... raise your kids... and as far as the government is concerned... to quote and paraphrase Clint Eastwood... GET OFF MY LAWN!  GET OFF MY GUNS!  GET OFF MY FREEDOMS!  GET OFF MY RELIGION!  GET OFF MY CHILDREN!  ...and while you're at it... GET OFF MY FARM!