Saturday, June 28, 2008

St. Irenaeus of Lyons

St. Irenaeus, confirmer of truths and revealer of falsehoods, pray for us so that we bloggers will always strive to seek the truth and avoid mistakes and errors that would lead our readers astray.

I've considered St. Irenaeus to be the unofficial patron saint of bloggers since I first read his work "Against Heresies." His writings helped to solidify in words what Christians believe at the core of our faith. His desire to seek the truth and confirm it is a proper reminder for bloggers everywhere.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Bowling Night Report 6/26/08

I think the Heller decision must have made me extraordinarily giddy. The first run through last night's stage was in a word, awesome.

I have lost my apprehension of having to shoot at falling steel plate targets, too. Consider this: I'm shooting at something a little smaller than a dinner plate at 30 feet away. Now if it's at chest level, that's not too tough. Your eyes are judging everything at a parallel to slight angle. The falling plate target I was shooting at was about 12 inches off the ground, making the proper judgment of aiming more difficult. Usually you have don't have to worry about adjusting for slope until you're shooting at 50 to 100 yards away (as if you were really shooting uphill or downhill and have to adjust a scope accordingly) but even our best shooters can have problems with it. Then again, it's sort of like having to make a shot to stop an alligator or dog, though with the top of the target being about 20 inches high that'd be a mighty short dog. It's about chest high for the larger ill-trained dogs like the ones that recently attacked a mailman here in town. I'm no advocate for going out and shooting Fido, Rover, or even your local pet alligator (like Elvis from "Miami Vice," remember him?) to test this, though. Stick with the metal plates instead. They may not keep you up at night with incessant barking, but your neighbors won't be mad at you, either.

I also got the chance to handle Springfield Armory's latest plastic-framed import from Croatia, the XD-M. Sheer willpower prevented me from buying it on the spot. The trigger is wonderful right out of the box, as they appear to have taken the excess pull length out of it. On my XD, that requires a steady hand and a gunsmith fee. The sights are really nice for starters as well. Then there's my favorite part, especially as a competitive shooter: the XD-M uses 16-round magazines compared to the 12-round magazines I have for my current pistol. That would have helped me in both runs of last night's stage, as I miscounted the shots before my magazine change. Having to rack the slide wastes time. The grip of the gun also felt very nice, and with those interchangeable backstraps, it could fit my hand even better than my current pistol. A better fit leads to better accuracy, fewer misses and fewer wasted shots. I think I just found something for my "must-buy in the near future" list. I'll want to try it out at the range soon to be sure, though.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Heller prevails, D.C. fails

Yes, I'm interrupting the stunning week-by-week story of my attempts to get into better shape and become a better shooter for a healthy dose of opinion on gun ownership and today's decision in the U.S. Supreme Court.

This is a significant victory for lawful gun owners in the United States, one that affirms that yes, your home is your castle and you may defend it with commonly-held firearms, including handguns. You may also keep firearms ready for use as well, as this decision also does away with the crippling restriction in the District of Columbia that guns must be dismantled when stored in homes. The result of this decision should also have an effect on the varying handgun bans and restrictions throughout Illinois. For one, Chicago will likely have to reinstate their registry, and also likely be quick about issuing permits for the guns brought in. The various suburbs such as Evanston, Winnetka and Park Ridge will also likely have their total bans rescinded. Home defense will be allowed once more throughout Illinois.

This is a small victory despite its importance, though. Gun owners will still see various attempts to limit what kind of firearms can be owned, what various accessories can be allowed to make the gun more accurate, what cosmetic features are allowed (like the feared bayonet lug) and even a call for restricted-capacity magazines. We've had the right affirmed with the Heller decision. We're now going to need to raise awareness that a lot of the features found on civilian rifles are as a result of the development of military rifles and make the weapons more accurate, and thus less dangerous when used lawfully. The intent of lawful use of a firearm is to hit your target and not hit anything else.

Here's something from the decision that might also allay those fears of endless bickering over details to restrict the scope of the decision a little:
“We therefore read Miller to say only that the Second Amendment does not protect those weapons not typically possessed by law-abiding citizens for lawful purposes, such as short-barreled shotguns.” (53)
US v. Miller from 1934 has been used to justify restriction after restriction. I've got news for the feature-restricting types: there are a lot of 30-round magazines for the AR-15/M-16/M-4 series of rifles in civilian hands, and they're used lawfully at the range for plinking, at numerous shooting classes, and for sporting competition. Trying to pass a restriction to 5 or 10 rounds per magazine, or requiring a non-detachable magazine goes against the decision found here as well as a proper re-reading of Miller.

To put it into baseball terms, today's decision is a solid RBI double. All the upcoming legal wrangling will be what determines how well the next batter will do. The struggle for gun ownership is not yet over, folks. We will have to constantly reaffirm our rights to rapid issuance of permits where no restrictions are found, to use of current calibers and future technological improvements in firearms, to simple possession without police interference. Those cities that go the registry route will likely need to be guided forcefully into not using those registries as political or social weapons against gun owners. There are many small battles left to win in this struggle, yes there are. We who own guns lawfully must not relent in this argument.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Formal training, week 5

I had a setback this week where I couldn't complete the entire run. I ended up having to head back early due to my right shin. The shin splints were working overtime yesterday. All they are (as if saying "all they are" makes it better) are tiny stress fractures. I have had to deal with these when I run for most of my life, including my time in the Air Force. It's why I didn't like running in the past. Yesterday was a big setback for me in not being able to run the entire 3 miles with my group. Next week is the "mid-term exam" for everyone, as we'll be running the first part of the race itself as a 5k run. This will be to get us used to the idea of needing to wear shoe tags for timing purposes, figuring out how to avoid the faster runners at the start and how to keep a good pace. Speed work is now part of the run, I guess. Distance isn't the only thing to worry about now. Six weeks ago if you told me I'd be running around 3 miles every other day I'd have said you were crazy. I was wrong, though. I'm able to do it, just very slowly.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

No shooting match tonight. I went with a short run instead, 2 miles. I wasn't feeling up to lugging all my gear to the range tonight. With any luck I'll have a bit more access to nearby ranges soon so I can get in more pistol practice between Thursday shooting sessions. This will hopefully occur very very soon. As for tonight, though, a run was enough for me. The bugs are very much out in force tonight.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Formal Training, Week 4

Saturday, I ran my running group's usual jogging/biking trail with my new patellar knee bands, and my new ankle brace. The knees? No pain. The ankle? No pain. The shin? I still had the pain of shin splints.

Tonight, I ran part of the Abe's Amble with the addition of a shin compression sleeve.

I noted approximately zero shin pain, no knee pain, and no ankle pain. This gave me the opportunity to focus on my muscles and see how the leg muscles are doing. Apparently my quads still aren't up to snuff, and I had to stop for a few seconds on the leg back to our finish point to get my calves stretched.

I did a bunch of stretching prior to tonight's run. Legs, torso, lower back, shoulders, arms, everything I could think of stretching. My back didn't hurt like it did without stretching. My joints felt fine. I was sweaty and need to work more on breath control, but I felt really good with the alternating running and walking.

I thought that the whole 10-kilometer run might not be achievable when I started this project. It is very achievable. For tonight, though, I'm going to kick back, grab a little ice for the sore muscles, and call it a good run.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Shout Out The Cadence Loud and Strong!

It's the 233rd anniversary of the founding of the United States Army. Happy Birthday, Grunts!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Bowling Night Report 6/12/08

Tonight the steel popper targets had a friend. One of the targets had been replaced by a falling steel plate. Unlike the popper targets which are designed to fall over, then be propped back up on a hinge, this is literally just a steel plate that falls over. Even more unlike the poppers, this thing is a 12-inch square set about a foot off the ground. A popper's main target area is about 3 feet off the ground. It took about two shots each time for me to finally knock that plate over.

I suppose this means that Smurfs will never have to worry about me shooting them in case they should try to overrun the city.

Also another sign of firing wildly as opposed to firing in a controlled manner: I hit my target tonight right on the outside edge of the target's border. That counts as a miss by IPSC rules. It was my only miss, but it was still significant enough to note.

I followed shooting tonight with a short run. Handy rule: when running, don't be in a hurry to run. Stretch, warm up, all that stuff. Between a low amount of stretching and the heat, my run was way too short.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Formal Training Week 3

My running isn't getting much better. I've got some serious pain right below each knee at the patellar tendon. It looks like I'll be getting some of those knee bands a lot of athletes use. There's also a lot of icing going on, too.

And to top it all off, I gave myself a case of heat exhaustion due to poor hydration last night. This morning, I felt the after-effects of it. It's not good. Drink more water if you're running, folks.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Bowling Night Report 6/5/08

The lesson for tonight, kids, is this: speed kills, just not who you expect. No, there weren't any injuries at the range tonight or the like, but I shot some of my fastest times ever on a qualifier stage. The problem comes in where I missed a lot of shots on my first run through. If those would have been armed assailants, they would have been able to return fire easily. As it was, I just got a lot of misses and ruined my score.

The second run through showed the problem from the first. I was aiming low, a constant problem with my handgun at ranges beyond 15 yards. It was tougher than normal to get a decent sight picture, but these things happen. I didn't miss any on the second run, just by giving myself an extra four seconds to shoot. So, while speed kills when it comes to cars, going too fast on a stage might "kill" you instead.

And now, off for a late-evening run.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Formal Training Week 2

Wow. I even forgot to write about my shooting match last week. Well, this week is the qualifier for ranking, so the first week of every month is most important. I did very well, by the way.

Anyway, back to running: 2 miles, mostly walking, but I did a lot of running and ran the last section prior to the finish line. I'll be really impressed when I can run that entire 2 miles. Hopefully I'll be running more than that! I had a lot of fun with my running group, and hopefully I'll be able to wake my lethargic butt up on Saturday morning for another run. I can't wait to go out and run some more.

Tomorrow, though, I'm taking a day off from running. I may do some walking and other exercise.