Sunday, September 30, 2012

Tracks, slugs, blinds, and my dear...

It seems like fall is here so early this year, or maybe the drought just has the leave's dropping early 'round here.  The farmers started harvesting corn the first week of September, although it's not much of a harvest for many of them.  The deer are going to find the same slim pickin's as the rut and winter approach over the next couple of months.


Here in Ohio, you can't use a modern, center-fire rifle to hunt deer... so a bow, crossbow, black powder firearm, or a shotgun with slugs are your choices.  I use one of our Mossberg 500s with a twenty-four-inch rifled barrel with a cantilevered scope mount to hunt deer during gun season 'round here.  This year I've sighted that gun in with some Winchester Partition Gold 385 grain 12 gauge sabot slugs in two-and-three-quarter inch shells.  They seem to keep a fairly tight group at a hundred yards.

There's been a lot of fresh deer tracks in the field behind the barn and I've seen a nice eight-point buck at our mineral block twice now, but the dry season has left the deer plot in pretty bad shape.  I picked up a new ground blind, the Brickhouse, from Ameristep.  My lil' gal and I set it up in the barn this weekend.  It seems well built for a hundred bucks.  I think I'm going to locate it along the north side of our property, plus the neighbor and I still have our redneck, deer huntin' tree house we built behind his pond to use.

Speakin' of my lil' gal, she looked beautiful with her friends as they headed off in a group to the fall homecoming dance this past Saturday night.  Guess she ain't so lil' anymore.  The local football team slam-dunked their opponent 77 to 6 to remain undefeated after our small-town pick-up truck, er, I mean homecoming parade Friday night.  That might not mean much to you folks, but football is about all that tops huntin' season each fall in these parts.

I hope that eight-pointer comes back in a few weeks when hes done chase tail... and that's about what's up here at God, Gals, Guns, and Grub these days... Tracks, slugs, blinds, and my dear...

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The new shootin' range...

When we moved to our current country home about fifteen years ago, we had just a handful of neighbors, a state nature preserve adjacent to our property on two sides, plenty of wildlife, and agricultural zoning so shooting and hunting out back whenever we wanted wasn't a concern.

We had built our first shooting permanent shooting range about ten years back on our property when we had a concrete, covered "shootin' porch" put on the back of our new barn.  My good friend Matt over at Jerking the Trigger helped me put a bit of sweat equity into that barn back then and he has joined me on occasion back then and over the years to shoot on our range.

Over the years, the one thing that has changed is we did have quite a few new neighbors build houses in the area during the first decade of the new millennium. So along with that... and the very wet, clay ground here at our property... and to add the ability to shoot multiple targets at various angles for practice, 4H Shooting Sports, NRA/CCW courses, and other shooting activities... we decided to re-design our fifty-yard range in addition to putting in a lot of tile for drainage on the property.

Since the gals and I shoot regularly, often multiple times each week, we wanted to be able to shoot year 'round without having to slog through water and mud to set targets so we decided to put drainage in the base of our range and cover it with compacted, number-eight washed-gravel that is ten to twelve-inches deep.  This small gravel will not cause ricochets, with .22s or .308s - it's been personally tested by the gals and I, although the gravel will scatter.  We put a commercial-grade plastic cloth under-layment down after the excavation of four to six inches of sod and top soil to keep the mud and weeds out while preventing the gravel from endlessly sinking in.

The earthen berm is thirteen to fourteen-foot high and configured in a "horse-shoe" shape so that shooters can safely address targets at various angles.  We've planted it with a mix of grass seed and Crown Vetch with a straw-mat covering so hopefully what has started growing so far this fall will fill in nicely during the spring.  We may need to over-seed in the spring, but it's a good start.

Since some folks may ask, the finished range is sixty-five feet long and thirty-five feet wide.  We put in commercial-grade white-vinyl, privacy fence down each side that is seven feet tall with six-foot high privacy panels.  The gals wanted it to look nice and while it may not offer ballistic protection, it does provide privacy, safety, a minimal amount of sound abatement, and a "what stray bullet, show me the hole" liability mitigation factor.  Fortunately, our neighbors are to the left or right or east... the range is almost four-hundred feet off the road, points west to the state nature preserve and the closest structures due west of us and the range are almost five and a half miles away... did I say we live in the country?

I know you can never be safe enough with firearms and shooting, but I think we've taken more than adequate precautions in the re-configuration and construction of this range.  We'll also be able to use the range for parties and entertaining too since we have a spare refrigerator and freezer in the barn and my Dad's fairly new gas grill to put out there on the shootin' porch when it's needed... ... for bacon, steaks, and bangs... I think Dad would approve!

We'll be relocating our archery range to take advantage of the side of the new earth berm outside of the new shootin' range and we still have the two-hundred yard range on the far side of the property for tweaking our rifles.  If our home facilities don't always fit the need, we're fortunate to have the local gun club just ten minutes or a few country miles away with archery, shotgun, pistol, rifle, and cowboy action ranges.

There's still some landscaping, roto-tillin', and grass seedin'' to do around the outside of the range and for all the drainage trenches throughout the property... but we still have a few good weekends left to work on that this fall... when we're not shooting on the range, of course.  

So now you folks know why lately I've been down to one post each week.  What can I say... it's been busy 'round here... and the gals and I are blessed with more than we deserve... including... The new shootin' range...

Monday, September 17, 2012

Rock, Paper, Scissors for Self-Defense?

“And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.” ~Genesis 4:8

My gal and I are both full-time educators.  It’s our profession at work (school) and our hobby at home with 4H, AWANAS, and the NRA/CCW courses.  We love what we do, but our state and federal laws do not… so we are left unarmed in victim zones full of students each day.  I’m sure many of you find yourselves in situations and places where concealed carry, or even the carrying of other defensive weapons is not allowed.

So what do you do when you’re still a law-abiding citizen who has been disarmed by obedience to the laws that others ignore?  Well, I’ve worked with my gals for years to think about “what ifs” and visualize various scenarios where you might have to defend yourself without you firearm or even your knife.  I bet if you start to look around, you’ll find all sorts of benign objects that with the right mindset can become excellent tools for self-defense.

If your mindset is ready, then assess your inventory of self-defense tools that you might already have in close proximity to your desk, your workspace, and even your vehicle.  Some states still consider an expandable baton like the ASP a concealed weapon in the hands of and otherwise upstanding citizen.  A piece of steel pipe can be a legal problem for some when encountered by law enforcement, but nobody questions a simple MagLite flashlight which can deliver quite a wallop upside the head of some thug.

Sometimes the keys in your hand, a pen, scissors, hammer, book, or even a pencil can be used as a defensive weapon when nothing else is available.  Even if you have company vehicle, like some of my friends do, where there are anti self-defense policies in place… you can still keep acceptable tools and objects ready-at-hand if you need to defend yourself.

So as you’re getting prepared for what could or might happen, especially when you work where they prefer to give the criminals the upper-hand… What steps have you taken for self-defense?  Are you ready when all you have are… Rock, Paper, Scissors for Self-Defense?

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Aimpoint PRO

Over the years, I've been asked a lot of questions by folks about what optic or scope they should put on their rifle and how much should they spend.  My default answer is stick with a reputable name brand and plan on spending at least half of the cost of the rifle you purchased.  There's no need for a nine-hundred dollar scope on a stock Ruger 10/22, and there is something wrong with a $39.95 Tasco on a beautiful new Weatherby Mark V Accumark in .338 Lapua.

Sometimes that rule of thumb for optics and scopes isn't always accurate.  When we picked up our Ruger SR-556c last spring, I decided to drop a four-hundred dollar optic on it which is barely one-fourth the cost of the rifle, but I'm positive we ended up with great deal, not a cheap optic.  We've had terrific experiences with the Aimpoint 9000L's on our Ruger Mini-14's, so the new Aimpoint PRO seemed like a terrific choice and came ready to mount-up right out of the box.

While you can easily get the specifications from Aimpoint, the total package is a solid unit of Aimpoint's products including the QRP2 mount with a spacer that places the optic at the ideal height that makes for a proper mounting and gripping of the rifle while even allowing the shooter to co-witness with the Ruger SR-556c's folding Troy Battle Sights.

Aimpoint claims a thirty-thousand hour, three-year-plus battery life with their advanced circuitry and a single three-volt lithium battery, so you can just turn it on and leave it on for when things go bump in the night.  We like the two MOA dot size as our experiences with four and five MOA dot sights have found us wanting for a smaller, more precise dot.  The range of adjustments makes for varying dot brightness settings that are visible from the darkest nights to the brightest days.

I've tried firing a series five shot groups... removing and reinstalling the PRO using the QRP2 mount with the ratcheting, torque setting knob in the same rail position... and have found that it maintains zero without a problem.  Currently, I have a little over fifteen-hundred rounds through the rifle over four-plus months with the optic mounted on it in cool, hot, and very wet weather.  I haven't tossed it in the neighbor's pond to check the water proofing, but it's done well in a heavy down-pour and even a light, misting rain while the barrel's steaming away.

One little touch I like is the stickers that allow you to record when you last changed the battery.  The gals and I tend to write on batteries with a fine-point black or silver Sharpie so we know when batteries were last installed in various pieces of equipment and hardware.

Another nifty feature is that the included flip-up lens caps have a clear, see-through rear lens cap that lets you see the red-dot even when both lens caps are down.  I've tried shooting several times with the lens caps down, both eyes open of course, it's amazing how easy it is to put hits on target which both eyes open when viewing just the red dot with the dominant eye and the view of the target with just the non-dominant eye.

There are a lot of good offerings and opinions out there when it comes to finding a good optic for your AR, but so far I think we'll be putting another one of these on our next AR too.  If you're looking for a quality, reasonably priced optic for your battle rifle, home-protection rig, or Zombie-slayer build... the gals and I think you can't go wrong with the Aimpoint PRO.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Working out on the range...

We jokingly refer to this past summer as The Lost Summer.  With my main gal and I both in the education business, summer is our time to kick back, enjoy, travel, shoot vacation, shoot, fix, paint, dig, clean, and all those other things that we can't do during the school year.

Starting summer off with a major surgery and finishing it with another surgery to remove my first experience with a kidney stone... not much except keepin' on with keepin' on was accomplished during the past three months.  The surgeon and family doctor finally gave the green light to go back to work and start exercising again about two weeks ago and along with that... all those things that haven't been getting done are now starting to get done.

Some of you folks who stop by regularly may have noticed my twice per week posting has dropped down to once a week, but I'm trying to keep up with little items on the Facebook page and there is so much to catch up on.  My little gal has begun  her senior year of high school and her varsity tennis season with matches to watch.  I've also been back at exercising and working out each morning before work and getting after yard chores.  Guns have been getting a real workout instead of daily dry-firing and all my John Deere buddies in the barn are glad to see me again too.

We have two shooting ranges on our property and the gals and I began a project last spring to re-configure our fifty-yard range with the covered shooting line into a fifty foot pistol range with a horse-shoe shaped berm that would allow us more "tactical" and "practical" type of shooting practice such as setting up IDPA-type scenarios and conducting the range portion of my NRA/CCW courses with complete safety while engaging multiple targets at various angles.

Hurricane Isaac's remnants never seemed to completely arrive here in southwest Ohio except a few sprinkles and the weather folks had predicted six to eight inches of rain this weekend.  With decent weather, we've been hard at it all weekend finishing our shooting range changes and upgrades.  I figure with a little luck, decent weather and about two weeks we'll be finished... oh, and about thirty-five to forty more tons of washed, number eight gravel.

We've had a lot of excavation and drainage work on the property this summer, especially with the shooting range back-stop/berm construction.  There's still an acre or two of field and a lot of filled in drainage trenches that need tilled up and planted back to grass.  We're all pretty excited to get it finished and enjoy one of our favorite past-times.  When it's done, we'll be blessed with one of the coolest, private, covered, out-door pistol ranges around that should offer shaded, dry shooting... well, at least the gals and I think so.

We hope you and yours are staying safe and enjoying this three-day weekend, but as for us... it's time to call it a day... and it's been a long, very hot day... Working out on the range...