Tuesday, August 11, 2009

On Indefinite Hiatus

Until I decide that I need to start writing on a regular basis again, this blog is pretty much closed. I've got other things I'd rather do.

Friday, July 24, 2009

While I've got a break...

Work has been challenging for the past few weeks, resulting in going a couple of weeks without posts. This may continue until work slows down and/or I have other stuff to blog about besides IPSC nights.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Bowling Night Report 7/9/09

You take a week off without practice and it shows. I could barely keep on target all night. Well, that just means I need more intensive work on the fundamentals. I should also go see if I need new glasses. Eh, sooner or later I'll go get my eyes checked again. I'll schedule something for one of my days off.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Bowling Night Report for 6/25/09

The steel popper targets didn't give me any real trouble this week. Everything else went poorly as I could not keep my hands steady enough to put all my shots in the A-Zone. I did okay, but not good enough for where I ought to be by now.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

I decided not to go to the shooting match tonight. It's just a little on the warm side at the range there. I might go to the gun club this weekend, though, as I still haven't taken the AR out this year. Decisions, decisions.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Membership Has Its Privileges and Its Responsibilities

So, my local gun club (the Abe Lincoln Gun Club on Springfield's wonderful far west side) had its annual work day today. I staked out a spot on the 25-yard range taking down the old wire used for hanging targets and wow, that was a pain. Whoever put the posts that held the wire together decided to ensure it wouldn't go anywhere through the use of guy line anchors screwed into the ground. Both anchors were around five feet long each. I'm glad I was able to borrow a prybar for that job. I slipped the bar into the eye of the anchor and unscrewed it that way. That's some tedious stuff right there.

The wires got an interesting replacement thanks to a visit by the club president's recent visit to the August A. Busch Memorial Conservation Area shooting range. We now have movable wooden target frames to set into posts at 7, 15, and 25 yards at the outdoor range. Set your target at the appropriate range and height (lower for bench rest shooters, higher for standing shooters) and start practicing. The frame is too big for an IPSC/USPSA target to be attached to the frame itself, so you'll have to attach it to a larger cardboard backer if you used that specific frame pattern. I don't even think the NRA "tombstone" targets for their Action Pistol event would fit without a backer. Regardless, it'll be nice to train outside at 7 yards with my snubnose revolver and be able to use regular .357 Magnum rounds instead of just using .38 Special all the time. .38 Special is good, but it's also good to practice with full-house stuff, too. You never know what you'll have to work with, after all. I think there's about a dozen or so of the frames built at the moment, so everyone will have to go easy on them. At least, I hope they will.

The best part of the work day was hearing all of the hunters go dead silent as soon as a wild turkey strutted its way from behind the main berm of the 25/50/100 yard ranges. The work day is very good for meeting a lot of the folks in the club that you don't always see when you're out there. We had a huge turnout, too, probably around 125 to 150 members. That's always a good thing. It sounds like there was a suggestion to host an Appleseed shooting clinic in the future. I'd love to hold one at the club, but the parking wouldn't just be tricky, it'd be nearly impossible. We didn't have enough parking for everyone who showed up today, so unless that can get fixed we might not be able to do that. I'll still support one if it comes through, though. Teaching people how to shoot is teaching them a part of American history and heritage.

Also, always carry your boonie hat with you. It'll keep the sun off your ears. Even with the cloud cover we got today I'm pretty sure I'll have some sunburn on my arms. It wasn't too bad for four hours of work.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Bowling Night Report 6/11/09

For once the tiny steel plate made an appearance and I was able to drop it on the first or second shot. It's a six-inch plate that sits a foot off the ground at 25 feet away. It's also a pain in the butt to hit quickly. My aim was just off all night, too. I wasn't getting my usual good sight picture. That just means more practice, then.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

"BRB, Saving The Free World"

If Twitter had been around during Operation Overlord, some wag in a landing craft would likely have written that.

Other than that, there's not much I can say about today that others haven't already said better. So, I'll go with a little joke instead and many thanks for saving people who helped me to grow up in a free and prosperous America.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Bowling Night Report 6/4/09

It was another deceptively simple classifier tonight. Oh well. 12 shots total on three targets, and I manage to get one flyer that completely misses on the second closest target. After the running the stage twice, I felt like I should have been running more or something. You usually don't run on classifier nights as you're working on speed as much as accuracy. I did like the scenario as it's pretty common: stopping an armed robbery at a mini-mart from behind the counter. I didn't hit any of the hostage no-shoot targets, so at least my paying customers survived.

Working at a stop-n-rob in college made me realize two things: it's better to be armed just in case things go south in a hurry, and few retail jobs are worse than liquor store jobs.
Twenty Years Later

There was much promise of the idea of an open and honest government in China, maybe even a peaceful transition to a multiparty democracy like the ones that swept Eastern Europe. I don't remember everyone involved in using the military to crash the party atmosphere of the rally, but the name Jiang Zemin rings clear as one of the many men who decided that the shooting should start. Who was this Jiang fellow? Just the President of China. Maybe not a political mover and shaker behind the scenes like Deng Xiaoping was until his death, but Jiang was still one of the people who would need to sign off on orders like that.

Look at the above. One man stopping tanks by appealing to another man's humanity. Once he was removed by the People's Armed Police, though, the tanks rolled through. Remember this as well. The People's Liberation Army units in the Beijing Military District refused to take part. The refrain to a patriotic song in China says "The People Love The Army and The Army Loves The People." Many of the army units refused to back up the Beijing Police Force or the People's Armed Police. So, the government's crisis managers came up with an idea: bring in outsiders from other military districts who don't necessarily like the people in Beijing. They trucked in soldiers from rural provinces like Gansu to do the work the Beijing soldiers wouldn't.

Despite what pro-disarmament people might say, the Second Amendment exists to ensure that situations like this don't happen here. It exists to ensure that the people are armed well enough to make power-grabbers think twice before trying to use American troops against their own people. Combine that with a professional class of officers and non-commissioned officers whose jobs are not political prizes for party loyalty, and you can see that there are still a few checks on unlimited power. It starts with the Second Amendment, though. If that amendment is repealed, what gets repealed shortly afterward? The First? The Fourth or Fifth? I hope we never find out. The process of finding out will not be pleasant.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Bowling Night Report 5/28/09

Steel targets can be a lot of fun. You get immediate feedback from them since you hear the clang as the bullet hits it and you see the target fall. Tonight was not one of those fun nights. If your aim is off just a little bit, you will miss. A lot of my shots were hitting low and right. Fixing that will be easy. Slowing down and not worrying about my time will help, as will focusing on the target a little better. I had an off night tonight. Next Thursday, though, I will do better. I may even get a little practice in this weekend, I don't know. Next week is a classifier match, so it's kind of important to get a good score there.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Bowling Night Report 5/21/09

Always double check your magazines to make sure you loaded them to the correct capacity. On my first run tonight I didn't check and only had seven rounds in the magazine instead of eight. That necessitated an emergency reload in the first part of the stage, which just happened to have four targets. Transitioning between that and the next part of the stage would have made for a better reloading point. I had to switch magazines again after engaging the next three targets, because it was another four-target set and I only had one shot left. This made sure I had enough rounds to engage the remaining three targets with two shots left over. I had accounted to have four shots out of twenty-four remaining instead, and the last two targets were head-only shots as well.

The second run went great, once I ensured all of my magazines had eight shots each.

The shooting group is doing great, too. We're running over 100 scoresheets a week, including a lot of new shooters. We have some new women shooters in the group as well and they're taking to IPSC like ducks to water. Our county is getting more and more skilled shooters every week now. I think I like that a lot.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Bowling Night Report 5/14/09

Tonight's match involved moving backwards from four paper targets and a no-shoot that blocked part of the two center targets to engage the next set of targets, which just happened to be one paper and five steel targets. I saw some people turn around to run back to the next shooting position, but I was more concerned with safety. After all, you're not allowed to break the 180-degree plane that separates uprange from downrange. Not only would there be a good chance to sweep yourself with a loaded gun, you could break the 180 and endanger someone else.

My strategy was to engage the first four targets from the box, back up and sidestep to the second shooting position, then engage the steel targets. My time wasn't great, but safety in shooting games is very important to me. We're not playing with toys, after all.

My accuracy, though was very good. So, hopefully I'll score high on the match tonight. I also kept score for a good portion of the match. Trying to spread out all the shooters from their initial run-through to their re-shoots while keeping score and confirming the range officer's scores is difficult at best if you don't do it all the time. I hope our club's gallant data entry specialist can read my chicken-scratch handwriting.

In other news, it looks like I'll need to examine the bolt on my old Revelation 120. The firing pin strikes very lightly on every other shot sometimes, so I need to see if there's a problem with the pin or the extractors. At least it's easy to reassemble. When it shoots, though, it shoots very nicely. The scope also makes it a wonderful little rifle, too. I may yet try my hand at small game hunting this year.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Clearly, we need to ban golf clubs.

Next thing you know kids will be putting "gangsta style" and rappers will be mentioning Callaway instead of Glock. No one really needs a full set of golf clubs, especially in those high-capacity golf bags. Those caddies you see? They're nothing but pimps for the golf industry. They're always whispering the siren song of golf into the player's ear, like a devil on your shoulder. There will be drive-by chip shots before you know it. Kids will be getting four-ironed for wearing the wrong color of plaid trousers at Illini Country Club! Lincoln Greens will run red with blood! Panic! Mayhem! Cats and dogs living together! MASS HYSTERIA!

Wait, what do you mean that Michael Pfleger and other assorted politicians hiding behind religious garb haven't gone on a hunger strike to protest golf violence? There's no Campaign to Prevent Golf Violence funded by the Joyce foundation? Seriously? Whoa.

*the preceding is satire in crudest form*

Blaming the gun is just as stupid as blaming the golf club. It's the person who uses the golf club improperly that is the problem. Hoplophobic news writers will never explain that, though. My guess is that they focus on the gun because it can't defend itself in print or on television. It can't call the writer on factual errors, nor can it talk back on tv and make its case worse or better. Blaming the gun is the lazy way to complete an article I suppose.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Bowling Night Report 5/7/09

Missing a night due to being sick at work is bad enough, but on a classifier night? Gimme a break! Hopefully there will be a shooting match at PASA Park soon. I feel weird without going to at least one classifier a month. Besides, that D classification really grates.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Bowling Night Report, 4/30/09

My first run-throughs are rarely good, and this was no exception. I apparently rocked on second run, though. The steel targets weren't too bad last night, either. Also, I forgot that the classifier matches are the first Thursday of the month, so I ran it like I would a classifier. That could be why the first run was so lousy. Oh well. Next week is another classifier.

In other news, it's official that I'm a USPSA addict. I just got my life membership stuff in the mail on Tuesday. That's an incentive to improve, would you say so?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Bowling Night Report 4/23/09

We're getting a lot of new shooters right now, which is great. Not so great, though, is the wait in between my runs on the stage. I only shot once tonight. One cartridge failed to feed properly, and got a nasty dent in the side of the case. That's how badly it fed. That is one of the things I like about practical shooting: Not only do you have all the factors of speed, accuracy, power and ammunition management, you've also got to be able to diagnose gun problems and fix them on the fly. Usually it's just ejecting a bad cartridge and shooting again, but sometimes you've got to determine the problem quickly and get back to shooting. Fortunately for me all I needed to do was eject the magazine, let the damaged cartridge fall out and reinsert the cartridge and empty the magazine into the targets. My time wasn't great, but the shots were dead-on accurate. That's what I wanted most tonight, accuracy.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Nope, no match report this week. My sinuses were acting up something nasty. Maybe if the weather is decent this weekend, I'll get a chance to sight in my new inexpensive .22LR scope that's on an old Revelation 120 (the brand name for Marlin 60 rifles sold by Western Auto). It's one of Burriss' cheaper models, but I'm not looking for Carlos Hathcock-levels of accuracy, either. I just want to be able to hit very small targets, rabbit-sized to be correct, at 100 to 150 yards. Some people prepare for zombie invasions, I prepare for Vorpal Bunny infestations.

Monday, April 13, 2009

The 1911, Finicky Magazines, Finicky Ammo, And You

So, I had a bunch of 10-round magazines for my 1911 from Metalform. They're pretty much the only company who makes them in .40 S&W, even Springfield Armory sells them under their brand name. Well, I originally thought they were all bad, since they constantly misfed the ammo I put into it. To a certain extent it was true, as the feed lips prevented the cartridge from being pushed up easily into the chamber. I stretched the feed lips out just a little with a .410"-diameter steel rod and I noticed that some worked better, and some still did badly. When I took a further look, I noticed what was happening with the ammunition that didn't feed properly. It was actually setting the bullet back into the cartridge. So, I investigated the ammunition further, and compared brands. The Blazer Brass .40 that I was using was constantly being pushed back into the cartridge and jamming, regardless of which 10-round magazine I used. Blazer Brass works fine in all my 8-round magazines, probably due to the slightly different feed lip configuration. The Metalform 10-round magazines don't let the cartridge push up the ramp as quickly as the 8-round magazines do. The feed lip configuration combined with Blazer Brass having a very loose crimp on it is what led to my problems with the 10-round magazines. The Winchester White Box that I got a few weeks ago doesn't have that problem, as it fed well in every magazine but three. I'm going to try again with those three bad magazines just to make sure they're actually bad and it's not just the ammunition.

I won't count on those 10-round magazines as anything but plinkers and the occasional Limited-10 match, but it's nice to know that when I need practice magazines, I've got some that I can use for just that purpose.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Bowling Night Report 4/9/09

Since I've purchased my new 1911, steel popper targets have been less of a challenge to me. The steel plates in last night's stage decided to get a little revenge last night for their larger metal brethren. I still have trouble shooting at a downward angle like that at smaller targets. On my first run, I left one of the plates standing due to not wanting to waste more ammunition and time than I already had. Everyone asked me why I left a plate standing and went to the next shooting spot. My second run proved why I left that plate standing. I had to use 10 rounds for five plates, requiring a reload and more careful aim. I did what I could to keep all my shots on the paper targets' A zones to make up for the time lost on the plates. I still wound up not doing so hot due to excessive time on the stage.

My guess is that missing that plate will be less of a score-killer than spending all the extra time on the plates. The steel targets won last night, but the war between man and steel plate is not yet over!

Thursday, April 09, 2009

More bad news for gamers

Dave Arneson, co-creator of Dungeons and Dragons, died earlier this week.

D&D was bigger than either Arneson or Gygax could ever have imagined. Well, maybe not. Blackmoor and Greyhawk were pretty darn big.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Something I just realized about my firearms cleaning regimen

Cleaning the 1911 isn't as easy as cleaning the XD40, but I'm able to break it down pretty quickly these days. Cleaning the Ruger 22/45 is very non-intuitive. You have to insert a magazine at one point to put it together and to take it apart. That's really annoying when the rest of your magazine-fed handguns require that no magazine is in the handgun during the takedown process. It seems like it could make the chance of a negligent discharge far more likely.
My second-favorite phrase in baseball is "Opening Day."

My favorite phrase, of course, is "World Series Champions Saint Louis Cardinals." I'm hopeful.

Of course, now that the Cubs have a century of consistency under their belts of going without a World Series pennant, maybe it really will be their year?

Friday, April 03, 2009

Bowling Night Report, 4/2/09

In the words of Maxwell Smart "Missed it by that much."

My first run through the stage last night wasn't very good at all. I missed the last paper target completely, so it wasn't like I was going to score well. The misses killed my score on that run.

The re-shoot worked to my favor. I shaved a second and a half or so off of my initial time and I picked up the last target very well. With any luck I'll be going up a classification soon.

I may have to go to the range and celebrate. Practice is paying off.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Trying Out New Ammo in .40 S&W and .22LR, Part 2

As I said my previous post, I was running dangerously low on .22LR ammunition. I had expended the better part of a value pack of Federal .22LR from Wal-Mart, and while the 36-grain hollow point (more like a dent stamped into the nose) was nicely accurate, I decided to try out Remington's Golden Bullet brand of .22LR ammunition, also in a 36-grain hollow point. Wal-Mart was out of the Federal when I went to buy it. First off, when Remington says "hollow point" they mean it. This stuff didn't just have a dent on the nose, it had a noticeable hollow cavity in the bullet. This might actually expand in squirrel and rabbit-type prey animals, much less any other living creature that gets in its way. Mind you, this is not an excuse to go try it out. I don't hunt (yet) so for now I'll just go after those vicious and bloodthirsty paper targets.

The control ammunition used is Federal's Value-Pack .22LR with a 36-grain hollow point bullet. At 10 yards it hits where I want it to go. The firearm used for testing was a Ruger 22/45. This is Ruger's Mark III pistol on a plastic frame that imitates the grip angle of the Colt 1911 and its clones (like my STI). Unlike my STI, though, it does not have a fiber-optic front sight, instead having a solid black front sight. This is important later in the report. The targets were the same as the .40 S&W targets, a 3" Shoot-n-C in the center of a 8 1/2x11" sheet of copier paper at 10 yards.

So, I fired my control ammunition first at one of the targets and was all over. So I took a quick break and came back to try again. My groups on the 10-shot strings (one full magazine) got a little better, but they still weren't great. That's when I noticed I was trying to find a black front sight and line it up with a black rear sight and aiming at a black target. I need a little more contrast than that. Well, since I didn't have any fluorescent paint on me, I decided to switch out target types. I stayed with the sheet of paper, but I substituted the Shoot-n-C with an X made of two 4-inch strips of blue painter's tape. Now that I could see the front sight again, I was ready to roll. The Federal sighted in perfectly as I used the last of it. The Remington Ammo still had more flash, but everything else was the same. I saw the center of the target and put all my rounds there. After two magazines of that, I noticed that it was getting close to 9pm. While the indoor range is open until midnight, I wanted to be respectful to the neighbors nearby as an indoor range is still loud, so I packed up to leave. I took bore snake to pistol and cleaned out any grunge in it with a more thorough cleaning to occur later.

The Remington ammunition shoots exactly like its Federal counterpart. It's really a case of buying whichever is on hand. If you can't find one brand, you won't need to worry about buying the other. It's still good enough for plinking.
Trying Out New Ammo in .40 S&W and .22LR

A few weeks ago I noticed that I was running low on hollow point ammunition for my .40 caliber pistols and I was running dangerously low on .22 for my .22 pistol and rifle. Dangerously low in my case means "The value pack box is running empty and plinking will be generally curtailed." The .40 caliber pistols are a little different as they serve in both competition and home defense, so I run the occasional hollow point rounds through them. I went and made a series of purchases at my local gun shop and at Wal-Mart to replenish my stocks.

From the gun shop I purchased two boxes of Remington Express .40 S&W and one box of Winchester WinClean, also .40 S&W. The Remington ammo was 155-grain jacketed hollow point is jacketed in the the usual copper/zinc "gilding metal" you usually see. Winchester uses what they call a "Brass Enclosed Base" bullet in the typical weight of 180 grains. The bullets that Winchester uses in this ammunition are interesting to say the least. They're not a traditional full metal jacket round like you would normally see for your target ammunition. The bullet is jacketed in brass instead of gilding metal. This isn't a bad thing; Remington does the same with its Golden Saber bullets, and more than a few reloaders make their own .223 bullets out of discarded .22LR brass and lead wire. The front end of the Winchester bullet looks like it's exposed lead which kind of surprised me.

So, with the desire to see how these fared in my 1911, I went to the nearest indoor range, the Abe Lincoln Gun Club. It's members-only, and fortunately for me, I have a membership there. Also, it's about a mile away as the crow flies (and about three miles of driving on twisting country roads) so it's good for a Friday night of plinking.

The testing was easy enough. I was comparing accuracy, muzzle flash and perceived recoil. I was using a range of 10 yards for the accuracy portion of the test. The targets were simple: a sheet of 8 1/2 x 11 copier paper with a 3-inch Shoot-n-C target in the center. The test handgun was my STI Trojan, a 1911 clone with a 5-inch barrel and 8-round magazine capacity. Unlike most 1911s, this one was in .40 S&W. It's stock except for the sights, a Dawson Precision fiber optic front sight. The sight was installed by Don Steele at Precision Gunsmithing here in Springfield. I also had three ammunition types as my control groups: Blazer Brass 180-grain and Winchester "White Box" 180-grain full metal jacket rounds for use in comparing the WinClean ammunition, and the Remington Express would be compared to Winchester's Ranger (now known as SXT) 155-grain hollow point rounds. The 180-grain control ammunition is mild in its recoil and hits dead center of the target for me. The 155-grain control ammunition is a bit louder and jumps a little more, but isn't enough to cause real issues. It hits a little high and to the left but still groups nicely. Instead of using a rest, I went with the usual two-handed "Chapman" grip and stance like I would use in competition. I'm trying these ammo types out for practical shooting purposes, after all. Also, please note that I'm a D-class shooter in USPSA, which means that my accuracy is not exactly laser-perfect. It's good enough for the practical targets, but I'm not doing Olympic free pistol any time soon.

The first ammunition I tried out was the Remington Express 155-grain hollow point. This is a, shall we say, "robust" round. I was able to stay on the paper at 10 yards, but the noise, kick and flash were very noticeable. The grouping was "acceptable at best" in that I could cover my eight-shot test strings (one full magazine) with my fist (roughly a 4"x4" square), and the rounds were evenly spaced from each other. After two magazines full, I decided to go to the FMJ instead. The recoil was a bit uncomfortable. The Winchester Ranger ammunition was a mild round comparatively speaking. Less flash, less perceived recoil and I could fit the control string into a 2"x2" square at ten yards, with most shots touching each other. The Remington Express ammunition is better suited for outdoor use than home defense, as even with my hearing protection doubled up I thought it was excessively loud. With the amount of flash even out of a 5" barrel, you could probably use the Remington ammo as an ersatz flamethrower indoors. I wouldn't suggest it, though. The Express ammunition is also very dirty, leaving a lot of residue in the barrel. Fortunately, a bore snake stays in my bag at all times, so that got removed quickly. In all, the Remington Ammo is probably better for coyote or feral dog removal when hiking than it is for removing a two-legged predator from the confines of your own house.

The WinClean ammunition performed exactly like the control ammunition did. The eight-shot strings tore a ragged hole in the center of the target at 10 yards. I wasn't really impressed until I saw the spent brass on the ground. There was no residue on the outside of the case at all, and most of the casings were clean inside as well. If I hadn't seen the dent in the primer I would have mistaken it for a new case. I'll say this much: if Winchester starts selling those bullets and primers as reloading components, I'll buy them. I haven't ever seen such a complete burn of powder and little or no residue. Even the barrel was clean after two magazines' worth. I never get that with Winchester's regular ammunition. It was even cleaner than with the Blazer Brass, and that's a pretty clean cartridge. If I can scrounge up a case or two of this, I'm going to start using it for my indoor matches exclusively, at least until my reloading press and equipment is set up. Then I'll be able to recycle my brass.

So, the results are in: Buy the Remington Express 155-grain JHP in .40 S&W if you have to, buy the WinClean 180-grain Brass-Enclosed Base because you want cleaner brass and less exposure to lead vapor. The .22LR will be covered in the next post.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

No Bowling Night Report for tonight. I wasn't really in the right mindset to go shooting tonight. I'll probably go tomorrow night.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Bowling Night Report 3/19/09

This was one of the trickier setups I've seen in a while. One of the steel targets had two disappearing targets hooked to it, so that they triggered simultaneously. I didn't do so well on those. In fact, it was one of my worst weeks overall. I got the results from the shoot at PASA Park this week, too. Well, at least they take my best four scores... too bad I have so few good ones.

More practice is all it takes. Fortunately, all the ranges here are pretty good for practice. I just need to schedule more time. With spring finally arriving today, I'll have more time to shoot. That's a very good thing as far as I'm concerned.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Bowling Night Report 3/12/09 and BONUS! PASA Park USPSA Event 3/15/09

Well, the usual match night sucked. I had a lot of procedural errors that wrecked a decent shoot. There's really not much to talk about there.

Saturday I began my search for ammunition. The Wal-Mart I Never Go To For Ammunition, so named for the fact it never has anyone at the counter, was my first stop, as the other two Wal-Marts in town were bare of .40 S&W ammunition. I saw one box in there of 50 rounds, and thought that might be all there is in town. Thankfully, after about 30 seconds of waiting, a clerk came over and helped me with the purchase. Even better he offered to check in the back for me for any other ammunition that came off the truck. And so, he came back with a case of Winchester's "White Box" ammunition. I took the case, since I'm running low. Anyway, I was pretty shocked that any .40 was able to be found in town. I even managed to pick up some more .22LR, as that was also out of stock in a few places. I'm trying out Remington's hollow point "Golden Bullets." The hollow points are much deeper than the Federal or CCI hollow points. That will be interesting to see if there's much of a difference than what I'm used to using.

Sunday, I get up at 5am. So you all know, I never get up at 5 in the morning unless I'm sick and can't sleep. I stopped doing that when I left the Air Force. I got everything ready by 6:30, taking my 1911 from STI to use for the matches. I'm happy that my parish has Saturday evening Mass. It would make attending events like this much more difficult. I was mostly excited about the match having four classifier stages on the schedule. That's four more steps towards getting ranked.

So, I get on I-72 westbound from Springfield and take it all the way to the Barry exit to get to PASA Park. It took about 90 minutes to get there, which isn't too bad. PASA is kind of hidden, but that's okay. It's a great place to shoot from what I've seen of it. They've also got a 600-yard range for rifles in addition to their multiple bays for practical shooting and cowboy action shooting and the 200-yard handgun range for the Masters shooting competition. Yes, the competitors shoot pistols (really bolt actions built on pistol frames and single-shot pistols) at ranges up to 200 yards. They use modified rifle calibers for the most part.

I arrived at around 8:15am and helped with the finishing touches on one of the stages shortly after I arrived. I figured that since I was a guest there, I should lend a hand where possible. I noticed that there were a lot of steel targets in the classifiers. Most steel targets are removed in our usual classifiers. I stumbled on those stages, but still did decently enough, I suppose. The weather was perfect, too. It was cold until the sun got a little higher up in the sky and then it was perfect shooting weather. The roads were a little muddy but I figured they would be. That's what why you keep old shoes around, kids. You never know when you'll be trudging from one shooting stage to the next in vaguely muddy terrain. I met up prior to the match with a good-sized crowd from Springfield Tactical Shooters, my local USPSA club. I wasn't sure who was going to be there.

My point of aim wasn't completely off unless I rushed. I also made a good choice to strip the bumper pads off of some 10-rounders that haven't worked too well for me and placed the bumpers on my 8-round magazines. Considering that we were dropping them into gravel, those made a big difference to me. No failures to feed and no failures to fire and no failures to eject means I had a really good day of shooting.

Still, though, if you get a chance to shoot at PASA, by all means take it! Also, if you get a chance to go to the Single Stack Classic at the end of April, take that opportunity as well to see some of the best shooters in the sport. I won't be there, as I'm not quite at that level of competition. Someday, though, I'll compete. Probably just not this year.

As for those 10-round magazines, I have an idea as to how to use them for their intended purpose. It just might take some time to get that done properly.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Bowling Night Report, 3/5/09

The worst part of IPSC shooting is when you've settled into a nice rhythm and something stops. I brought my pistol in line with one of the steel targets and fired... and nothing. The spent case failed to eject, so I had to cycle the slide by hand and try again. Breaking rhythm messed up my sight picture enough to where I missed and had to reload on the stage.

My re-shoot was better. 5 targets in a little over 6 seconds is okay, but not great. I spent too much time trying to get a perfect sight picture on the center target, but those steel popper targets fell quickly. On the steel targets, the difference between my XD40 and my 1911 is like night and day. I just miss the extra four shots of the XD40's magazine compared to the 8-round magazine of the 1911. The 1911 fits in my hand better and is more accurate because of it. So it's a trade-off, I suppose.

Ah well. The range nice and warm for once. I'm sick of winter and its effect on the indoor range, which makes the range cold and miserable. Of course, I'll probably feel the same way when summer humidity hits, as my safety glasses tend to fog up on the worst days. Still, though, it will be warm. I can deal with warm.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Losing an Old Friend in the News

The Rocky Mountain News is Shutting down.

This is very unfortunate for me. When I was stationed at Lowry Air Force Base in Denver, I would pick up a copy of this paper during lunch so I could read it after all my other duties were done for the day. I never read the editorials, just the news, the comics and the sports page. I remember following a good portion of the Colorado Rockies' inaugural season through that newspaper. Liberal, conservative, whatever. I'm sad to see it go.
Bowling Night Report, 02/27/09

I stuck with the plan unlike a couple of weeks ago, but had a brain fart on the "unload and show clear" instruction. The RO looks at me, and says "Drop the magazine, remember?" I need more sleep, apparently. Ah well, at least I shot decently tonight. The steel targets don't bother me as much anymore, either. I don't know if that's due more to the fiber-optic sight making it easier for me to aim or not, but I don't care as long as those steel poppers fall over.

The coolest part of my match tonight was being mentioned to the new shooters as a "worst to first" example. I'm still not one of the best shooters, but in two and a half years of shooting in IPSC matches, I have improved greatly. I'm still not at the level I want to be, but I'm getting there. And yes, I did stink the place up when I first started. I improved by practicing the basics over and over and over. "Practice makes perfect" isn't a cliche, it's a timeworn truth. Keep practicing out there and don't give up even when you hit a plateau.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

It's Ash Wednesday again...

I punted this year on what to give up for Lent: my breakfast of champions, the humble doughnut. Ah, well. As Lent goes on, I tend to find other things to add as part of the process of spiritual purification. This year will be no different.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Bowling Night Report 2/19/09

No shooting goodness tonight. The sinuses are draining and the last place I need to be is in a very cold indoor shooting range.

However, there is other shooting goodness in Illinois that isn't expending a single shot. HB0245 and HB0462 are two bills before the Illinois House that would create a shall-issue concealed carry law in Illinois. These are more like Texas' laws than Vermont's, but we can at least get into the 21st Century with the other 48 states with concealed-carry laws. You'll have to go through the usual licensing and training issue, but it'll be worth it. Home rule preemption is written into each bill as well.

I support concealed carry and I always will. The police can't teleport to you, so you might need something a little more than thinking happy thoughts.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Bowling Night Report 2/12/09

I didn't shoot all too well tonight. More practice will be needed. At least I got through the stage without any problems with the door I had to go through. Still, though, I just need more practice.
It's Abraham Lincoln's World, We All Just Live In It

I thought that was a pretty good tribute to the nation's 16th President right there. Besides, living in central Illinois means you are in center of All Things Abe. I don't mind it, really, but sometimes it goes overboard.

The 200th anniversary of his birth today? That's not so overboard. I'm enjoying the day off.

Oddly enough it's also the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin. Their mighty shadows still loom over science and politics today.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

What you mean "we," white man?*

(originally seen at The Anarchangel)

The last time I checked books like 1984, Animal Farm, Brave New World, and Fahrenheit 451 were NOT instruction manuals. Apparently my English and History teachers in high school were wrong about these books being cautionary tales. And yes, I appreciate the contrast of my own situation and my not wanting to live in a socialist society. Socialism isn't exactly placed on people by their consent. Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and Lithuania are just a few examples of that.

So, now what?

* This is an old punchline to an old joke about the Lone Ranger, his teammate/ hetero life-partner Tonto, and being surrounded by a thousand Apache warriors. There's your obscure "Jokes told to me as a child by older men of the family" reference for the year.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Bowling Night Report, 2/5/09

Tonight was a typical classifier night for me. Not bad, but not great would be my assessment of my shooting tonight. I was still a little low, which means a little more time at the range is needed. So, I'll have to remedy that this weekend.

The stage was pretty simple: engage three targets from Box A, run to Box B and engage the remaining three targets. My shots were a little wilder than I like, but no misses were scored against me. Sometimes it seems like your simplest stages are the toughest. The distances aren't the problem. My guess is that it's deceptively simple; the targets are set to make it look like it'll be a breeze. It's a check to see if you're overconfident, I guess. I need to check my front sight as well. It didn't seem to catch the light as easily as normal on my last run.

The big news for tonight, though, is that the first batch of my new reloading gear arrived. Thanks to the folks at Kempf's Gun Shop I now own a new "Classic Turret Press" from Lee Precision. The price was just about right for what I wanted as a starter. It's at just the right price point where I can see if reloading is going to help me shoot more often for the same amount of money, or possibly less money. It's also inexpensive enough that if I don't like reloading then I'm not out a lot of money. My stuff arrived in good shape, nothing broken or out of place. Soon I'll have my necessary measuring gear and brass preparation equipment and I'll be ready to start recycling my brass the right way: back into loaded cartridges! I'll have to start showing off the press a little bit, too, especially if I get it done right the first time.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Bowling Night Report 1/29/09

Round count is your friend. Go through the stage in your mind, see how many shots you can get out of the magazine before needing to reload so you don't have to reload in the middle of engaging a target. Determine where each reload spot needs to be. Then when the timer beeps, STICK WITH THE PLAN. I didn't do that part and had to reload while trying to place the second shot on a paper target. When planning out an approach to a stage, make sure you can maintain your focus.

In another sign that more new shooters are showing up to the matches, the parking lot for our regular venue was packed. You couldn't move any vehicles into the lot. Even the closest off-street parking was packed. I don't mind having to slog through the snow and wait longer for my turn, though. The sport gets better with each new shooter, and each new practical shooter is a person who can better appreciate the right protected by the Second Amendment.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Bowling Night Report, 1/22/09

Tonight wasn't quite as awesome as last week, but it was still very good. The fiber-optic front sight is great at catching my eye and allows me to hit very precisely. Whatever I put in front of that orange dot gets two shots into it closely and quickly. I had a little trouble with the steel targets tonight but that was more due to slow reloads than anything else.

Something that I forgot tonight that really killed my time was magazine placement. I have them placed where they're most comfortable and that's good. The thing that wasn't so good was having the magazines sitting backwards in the mag pouch, causing me to nearly flub a reload tonight. The re-shoot allowed me to switch the magazines to their proper alignment but I screwed up on two of my weak-side targets. Ah well, we can't have all A-zone shots every night.

Fortunately there's next week, too. After seeing how low my supply of .40 S&W ammunition is, I think it's time I finally invested in a reloading press. I have all this empty brass just waiting to be cleaned and reused. And they say we conservatives never recycle...

Monday, January 19, 2009

I'd be remiss in not mentioning this song...

It's called "Elephant Gun" by a young man named Zach Condon, and his band, Beirut. It's got a bit to do with elephant guns, though being from the Midwest, I'm not sure I'll see too many rampaging elephants around here. I'm really surprised at how much I like this song. The lead singer reminds me a lot of Timo Malo, the former lead singer of The Mavericks. I always liked his voice as well, so that may be it. Anyway, enjoy it, and if you like this, look for his stuff on Amazon.com and throw some cash his way. Most of it is in downloadable format, too.

And now, back to talk about shooting stuff competitively.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Bowling Night Report 1/15/08

I think the 1911 has made me a believer in single-stack handguns. As I was stepping back from my second run on tonight's stage a lot of people commented on how much better my shooting was with the 1911 than with the XD40. It's pretty amazing to see what happens when you switch to a gun that fits your hand better and is heavy enough to counteract the recoil of the .40 Smith & Wesson round.

Does this mean that my fondness for Springfield's (and Croatian manufacturer HS Produkt's) line of polymer-framed pistols is gone? Hardly. If anything, it gives me the opportunity to play around with the XD40 and tinker with it to see if it can become a pistol that's easier to handle. Since I can't make my hand fit the gun any better, I'll try to fit the gun to my hand. It'll be nice to have an extra handgun to use either as a competition backup or strictly for home defense.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Bowling Night Report, 1/08/09

It's a new year, I have a new pistol (An STI Trojan in .40 S&W) and apparently this is the handgun I'm going to shoot in competition from now on. I usually suck at classifiers. They're rarely good to me, and tonight's setup required engaging the targets using only my strong hand, then engaging later using only my weak hand. I was surprised at how much the 1911 style of handgun fits my hand pretty much perfectly. I was also pleased with the accuracy. Each of the three targets tonight would end up with eight shots in each if shot properly. Tonight, I got to hear "Eight Alpha!" as my score on one of the targets. Most of my shots went right where I aimed that sight, center of mass. There were plenty of low shots, most of which were scored when I was shooting using only one hand. I'll need to work a little more on that.

The other beautiful thing besides my shooting tonight was the influx of new shooters. I got to the match at about 6pm tonight, and usually I'm done shooting by 7pm. I didn't get a chance to shoot until about 8pm. That's almost unheard of on classifier nights, since the stages shot on those nights tend to be very quick. More shooters means more competition, sure, but it also means a lot more fun. If one of your local ranges has a weekly IPSC match, go check it out. It's always good to have more shooters in the sport. As I've said somewhere before, it's probably the most fun you can have with your clothes on.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Happy New Year

Last year wasn't bad for me, and I hope next year is even better.

The only problem I have with New Year celebrations is that even if I stay I at home, I'm up late. So, I overslept and missed the IPSC match we were going to have this morning.

As for resolutions, I have a few.

Attend Mass more often. More exercise. Run at least one 5k this year, walk Abe's Amble this year instead of run. Shoot at a C classifier status this year. Use more vacation time. Generally have a lot more fun than last year.

With luck I'll make these and more.