Sunday, November 25, 2007

I hope everyone's Thanksgiving holiday was better than the previous year's. As for my family's Thanksgiving, it was nice. One of Dad's friends came over for Thanksgiving dinner and we had a fine old time shooting the breeze. Sadly, we did no shooting of any firearms as the weather decided to go from pleasant to cold and rainy overnight, and it's been this way seemingly all weekend. I also came down with some kind of cold. Note to anyone out there: those Zicam swabs work great. They really do help alleviate the worst problems of your usual cold.

I should also mention the Thanksgiving dinner, as it was delicious as usual. Mom worked her usual magic on the turkey, keeping the bird moist to where I'm sure I could have eaten some of the white meat. I prefer dark meat, though. The extra fat makes it better. Plenty of vegetables were in attendance for me, being green beans and these amazing mashed potatoes that Mom and Dad put together. Mom also made her usual deviled eggs, and there is definitely a trick to making them just right. We also had our usual bread stuffing, which is full of sage and tastes heavenly. For dessert we had originally gone out to Bakers Square to pick up one of their French Silk pies, but my Dad's friend brought over a no-bake cheesecake that was unique, and certainly put the pie down a few notches. It was a standard no-bake, except for the addition of Grand Marnier, Mozart Chocolate Liqueur, and Bailey's Caramel Cream. I can't really describe how good it was.

Now we get to wait for Christmas and New Years' Eve, and the fun will begin anew. The last two months of the year always seem to fly by quickly. I don't mind, though. The sooner we get through this nasty weather and get back into warm and sunny temperatures, the happier I'll be.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A Pro-Life Option to Embryonic Stem Cells?

I certainly hope so. If the research in Japan and the US pans out, we may have added a little more value to human life. Turning your own skin into viable stem cells could be nothing short of miraculous. There's so much potential there to be able to save lives without taking the life of another in return.
Washington Post: Supreme Court to hear D.C. vs. Heller

Next spring the court will hear arguments in a case that could decide the constitutionality of handgun bans and other restrictions to the Second Amendment. The Heller case is interesting for seeing just how much a city, state, or federal district can ban the ownership of certain types of firearms. It is our right to defend ourselves when threatened with violence, and such a right has been enumerated in our Constitution. We do have the right to eschew violence as well, thanks to the Ninth Amendment. Thanks to the First Amendment, we also have the right to try to convince people to avoid committing acts of violence upon others.

We also have the right through the First Amendment to tell those people who preach non-violence that we strongly disagree with their opinion and will continue to keep that as the last resort should someone attempt to deprive us of our lives, our property or our inherent dignity. This is reconcilable with the potential act of violence stripping away the inherent dignity of the offender; he or she is a human being after all, and there is a base given by God that we must respect. Most criminals refuse to see that dignity in others, or they focus solely on themselves. By focusing on themselves, they twist that lens that reveals their own inherent worth, and declare themselves superior. Sometimes they will deny that any God-given dignity exists within them or the others around them and deny others their right to live peacefully. You can accept the abuse dished out by people like this, or you can resist them passively. You'll end up dead or subservient and unequal. You can resist actively by fighting, and they'll either be dead or they'll get the hint and leave you in peace. If we want to be left in peace, we must exhaust all available options first. You must defend yourself, though. Killing is the last thing you want to do. It should not be an easy choice, but it should be available nonetheless.

Even the Catholic Church recognizes this in the Catechism. Part 3, section 2, Chapter 2, Article 5, 2259 to 2269. (For those unfamiliar with it, think of the Bible as the Source Code and the Catechism as one of those huge books that give you very detailed answers as to why the source code reacts with programs in the way that it does. It's as much a troubleshooting guide as a "did you ever look at it this way?" guide.) We must respect the individual's right to live. We must also respect his right to defend himself from those who would deprive him of life. So, while we tell another person to look for ways of avoiding violence, we are not allowed to forbid him the right to kill when defending himself from those trying to kill him.

Some people have used the old phrase "Better to be tried by twelve than carried by six" to describe why they'll fight back. That's a bit too simplistic, but it gets the point across very well. It's my hope that the justices will affirm the right to individual right to self-defense as well as the right to own handguns for self-defense. This is going to be a big issue next year as both a legal issue and a political issue.

Monday, November 19, 2007

National Ammo Day - What Are We Buying?

Well, as for me it's four boxes of .40 S&W for my XD40, and two boxes of .357 Magnum for my Smith & Wesson 649 and its new companion piece, a Puma 92. The Puma is a Brazilian copy of the old Winchester model of 1892 lever-action rifle. Have you ever seen the old Chuck Connors tv western "The Rifleman" on any of the old networks? The gun he uses is a Winchester 92. The new version I have is all stainless steel instead of blued steel so it's slightly easier easy to clean and protect. The hardwood used for the stock is only mildly finished but quite nice nonetheless. It's a very affordable rifle, too, coming in well under $500. .357 Magnum is a common pistol caliber so I don't have difficulty finding ammunition for it.

So far I've bought 300 rounds of ammunition. It's not much, but it's a nice start anyway. My major purchases of firearms are pretty much complete. The next step is getting very good with them, and I've got quite a few years to do that.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

National Ammo Day is this Saturday!

Go out and buy a box or two of your favorite ammunition this weekend. Doing so ensures that you're voting with your dollars and supporting the firearms and ammunition manufacturers. And don't just go pick up a box at Wal-Mart and call it good, either. Head over to your local gun shop and put your money into the local economy, too. Your gun shop might have a nice range attached to it, and you might even find another gun for your collection or to fill a need. Don't have a deer rifle? Saturday will be a good chance for you (unless, of course, you're out hunting deer, as it's firearm deer season in Illinois) to get that rifle, shotgun, or handgun you've wanted.

If you'd like more information, go to The National Ammo Day website. Go buy a brick of ammunition and support the Second Amendment.
Bowling Night Report 11/15/07

There's not much new here. Went out, shot the stage twice, did about average. The steel targets dropped pretty quickly for me for once, so I'm happy there. I also finally got my timing down to make decent double-tap shots; that is, two shots in rapid succession. So I have the speed down for them. I'm running a heavy bullet through my .40 caliber pistol, and it goes nice and fast so I've got the power as well.

The accuracy, though, is still in need of a little work. I missed a few shots tonight which will pretty much negate one score tonight. I'd love to hear nothing but "Two Alpha" (meaning that both shots hit in Zone A of the target and are worth the most points) on each target as it is scored, but that'll be a while. As long as I get points on each target, though, it'll improve my scores.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Happy Birthday, Jarheads!

Congratulations and thanks to the United States Marine Corps for killing our enemies before the Air Force has to step in and do it right. What is it, 232 years of meek subservience to the Navy?

(Kidding!)

I've got family, friends, and co-workers who are or were in the Marines, and I'm very thankful for their service. Carry on, gentlemen, and enjoy the day.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Bowling Night Report, 11/8/07

I could also call this "Aaah! My ears!" night.

Tonight's first set of targets was shot through what is called a "Cooper Tunnel," which is basically to get you used to firing out of enclosed spaces. The "tunnel" is actually a 55-gallon plastic drum cut to half its height It's then set on its side on a frame, so basically you're shooting through this big "O" shape. You don't actually crawl into it, thankfully. However, you do get very close to it, and every shot is amplified as the noise echoes off the inside of the plastic barrel. Some people wonder why I wear double hearing protection (foam ear plugs underneath headphone ear protectors that cover the entire ear) when shooting anything louder than a .22. One, it's a habit from when I was in the Air Force. I fixed aircraft avionic systems and there were times you'd have to go through your operational checkouts by running the engines. Also, when launching or recovering aircraft, you'd be close to two very large turbofan engines so you'd be near noise levels of over 90 decibels (that's really loud). At full afterburner, the noise from the engines would go up to 180 decibels, and you do NOT want to have anything less than double hearing protection. So, by default I always kept ready a pair of foam earplugs for regular work noise and a headset for engine noise. This way I managed to stave off a lot of hearing loss. I always had good hearing as a kid, and I don't relish the idea of only having average hearing as I get older. So, to keep that hearing as good as possible, I wear double ear protection.

As for the shooting, my nemesis is apparently steel targets. I couldn't seem to hit them on the first shot at all last night. They're narrow targets so pulling shots left or right will be a definite miss. This is why you need accuracy. You also need to be able to knock the target down, which requires a decently-powerful round. Also, you need to do so quickly, as your score isn't just based on where you hit your target, but also how fast you completed the course. This is summed up in the motto of the group who invented the game, the International Practical Shooting Confederation. It's "Diligentias, Vis, Celeritas" which is Latin for "Accuracy, Power, Speed." Pretty simple, no? These are three simple ideas to combine and balance to achieve your goal of becoming a better shooter. I think I'll need a lot more practice during the week as well. Hopefully I can find the time for it.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Bowling Night, 11/1/07

So, I took a month off from shooting my weekly IPSC matches. I felt like I'd hit a plateau, so I needed to take a little time off. I went back tonight and wow, there was a great difference. Tonight's match was to engage seven targets with one shot each, do a mandatory reload, then engage all seven targets again with one shot each. Any shot after that would dock you ten points off of your score, so you had to really limit yourself. No-shoot targets were placed on top of five of the targets, partially concealing the targets. If you shot the no-shoot target, it was counted as a miss. The scenario was pretty much a modified "human shield" scenario, where you had to miss the human shields and get the nasty folks behind them. I did pretty well tonight. My shooting was still slower than some, but faster and more accurate than usual. The only problem was on the second re-shoot where I decided to go as fast as I could. I missed 3 shots out of 14, which isn't a good thing at all. The main shoot and first re-shoot, though were top-notch for me. Hopefully the scores will show the same.

I suppose this goes to show you that when you need to take a break, you take a break and rest. When you go back, you'll shoot better than if you try to tough it out. Shooting competitively is as much mental as it is physical. I also missed the smell of gunpowder, too. There's something about gunpowder that may not smell like victory, but definitely smells like fun.