Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Solitary Range Time

Much of my outdoor range time is spent shooting alone. That's not the case for the indoor range, where it's generally busy and I often find myself distracted by the antics of other shooters. However, I got to spend most of my 30 minutes at the indoor range this week as the sole shooter. There was somebody finishing up as I loaded mags, and then there was no one shooting until I was just about done. Perfect.

I brought out the S&W Shield this week. I plan to shoot it in a BUG match this weekend and wanted to get a bit of practice with it, using the 7-round mags. IDPA just updated, again, the BUG gun size limits and the 8-round mags, with the extra finger room, are no longer legal. (And of course, I just bought extra 8-round mags last month.)

The front sight on this gun is noticeably shifted to the right so I worked to compensate for that, with some success. I'll need to get that fixed at some point. (The range proprietor related that he's seen a lot of new Smith & Wesson guns come in with poorly installed sights. What's up with that?)

It was a fun and very quick outing. I had a nice refresher on the gun and look forward to shooting it this weekend. I hope the targets are close.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Five O'Clock Friday The 13th

That can only mean one thing....

It's the weekend!

First Range Trip of the Year

It’s not been from lack trying, but I just haven’t been able to get to a range in over two weeks. Inclement weather last weekend caused the cancellation of a match I had planned to attend. Hoping for a quick escape from the office, I’ve been blocking out an occasional lunch break on my calendar, in theory to avoid anyone scheduling something for me. Then I find the rest of the day filled up and I need that blocked time for other work. Oh well, one must pay the bills, and pay for the bullets.

Global warming was in full effect for a couple days this week, so it was unfortunate there was no time for a visit to the outdoor range. I did manage to get out for a quick “lunch break” this week and hit the local indoor range. This was more “recreational time” than any organized “training.” I stuck the target out around eight yards, and simply spent the time pulling the trigger. I shot for about 30 minutes, putting 150 rounds down range.

Aaargh! That flyer. 😠

It was simply good, relaxing fun. As an unrepentant multi-tasker, who works through lunch most days, I look forward to some time behind the gun, where I concentrate on one and only one task, to the exclusion of other concerns. Now I’ve entered a couple of “reserved time” entries in my calendar for next week. Maybe one of them will stick...

Thursday, January 12, 2017

VCDL Legislation Tracking Tool

The Virginia Citizens Defense League has posted the 2017 Legislation Tracking Page. This is a handy way to keep track of bills affecting gun owners in Virginia. Follow the page for the latest information as bills work their way through the legislature. Here you can see who's defending your rights, and who's working to take them away.

You can also get updates as they happen via the VCDL Twitter feed.

The Virginia Constitution
Article I. Bill of Rights
Section 13. Militia; standing armies; military subordinate to civil power
That a well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, trained to arms, is the proper, natural, and safe defense of a free state, therefore, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed; that standing armies, in time of peace, should be avoided as dangerous to liberty; and that in all cases the military should be under strict subordination to, and governed by, the civil power.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

It's Called Concealed For A Reason

People use the term, but I don't think they comprehend the meaning of "concealed."

It's hardly a guess if you advertise it on the back of your car.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Short on Ammo: Perspective

Received from a friend...
You may have heard on the news about a Southern California man who was put under 72-hour psychiatric observation when it was found he owned 100 guns and allegedly had 100,000 rounds of ammunition stored in his home. By Southern California standards, someone owning 100,000 rounds is considered... "mentally unstable."

In Michigan, he'd be called "the last white guy still living in Detroit."

In Arizona, he'd be called "an avid gun collector."

In Arkansas, he'd be called "a novice gun collector."

In Utah, he'd be called "moderately well prepared," but they'd probably reserve judgement until they made sure that he had a corresponding quantity of stored food.

In Kansas, he'd be "a guy down the road you would want to have for a friend."

In Montana, he'd be called "the neighborhood 'Go-To' guy."

In Alabama, he'd be called "a likely gubernatorial candidate."

In Georgia, he'd be called "an eligible bachelor."

In North Carolina, Virginia, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky and South Carolina he would be called "a deer hunting buddy."

And in Texas he'd just be "Bubba, who's a little short on ammo."

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Seeing Less. Shooting Better.

I've been writing for some time on my struggles with aging eyes and their effect on my shooting. I'm a bit out of the norm in that my distance vision began its degeneration well before my close up focus was affected. To this day, I need glasses to see sharply more than a couple feet out, yet can see close in without aid. This leads to a lot of time spent taking my glasses on and off throughout the day. Eating a bowl of ice cream in front of the TV is an exercise in frustration; I can either see my food OR the television, never both.

Back in 2012 I began experimenting with mono-vision correction for shooting. I started wearing shooting glasses with prescription inserts. The lens for non-dominant eye was set up with my standard distance Rx, while the dominant eye lens was corrected to bring the focus on to the front sight. I used this technique for about three years, but I was never entirely satisfied with the results.

My dissatisfaction mainly centered around the doubled up lenses in front of my eyes. The two layers of plastic caused some distortion, not to mention added to the weight on the bridge of my nose. During the summer months, sweat would get between the lenses, creating even more issues. The two different focal points didn't cause too much of an issue, my brain worked it out. However, I found I developed the habit of closing my non-dominant eye when shooting. This affected my peripheral vision, and resulted in a lot of blinking during a course fire. There had to be a better solution, but I didn't know what it was.

Then in 2015 I started noticing that the front sight was getting out of focus. My vision was changing and it was time to change the prescription for up close focus. (My distance Rx has not changed significantly in almost a decade.) I also noticed that the front sight of my gun generally sat right at the point where it was now in focus with the naked eye. Every so often I tried not wearing any prescription lenses at the range. I could shoot okay, but I just could not get comfortable seeing distant objects, and people, out of focus. Eventually I forced myself to shoot a match without the Rx. The range bay was small so there weren't any far off things to see, and I shot okay to boot.

The decision was made and from that day forward, I decided to shoot with no vision correction. I accepted seeing the targets blurred, as well as other objects and people in the distance. I know where on the IDPA or USPSA targets the -0 and A zones are located. Even with a partial target, one does not need to actually see the perforations. You don't need to see the target clearly if your sights are in focus and aligned. Hitting a 6" steel plate at 20 yards is still possible even if it's blurred. (I'm never going to be a bullseye shooter.) Focusing on the sight alignment, with a sharp front sight is the secret to hitting the target.

Even people with "normal" vision can't focus on two distances simultaneously, in my case I can't focus at distance at all. Out past about 7 - 10 yards, I can't see the holes in the target so there's no looking for confirmation of a good hit. In retrospect, I truly believe this limitation has helped, rather than hindered, my shooting performance. It's led to a greater concentration on the sights and trigger control. I've long heard the admonition to "call your shots." We even did a drill related to the concept in the Steve Anderson class I took back in 2013. But it never clicked as a real thing until I really couldn't see the hits on the target. Early in the transition I took a lot of extra shots, just because. Sadly, I don't always react fast enough and skip taking a needed make up, and I still occasionally don't call a bad shot.

In the end, I think not being able to look for confirmation on the target has been beneficial. It has forced me to become more confident in my shooting. I've also come to believe that trying to see the hits, as opposed to knowing the sights are aligned, leads to subconsciously peaking over the gun, and shooting low. One doesn't need to see the hit on the target if the gun is on target when the bullet leaves the barrel. After much work, I've also retrained myself to do most of my shooting with both eyes open.

After arriving at the range for practice or a match, I'll take off my regular prescription glasses shortly before it's time to shoot. There's a few minutes of uncomfortable vision degradation, but once I get to the shooting, I hardly notice. In the lower light of an indoor range it's more noticeable. I often use "splatter targets" indoors so I can check out the hits without reeling the target carrier all the way in. And rest assured, I put my glasses back on for the drive home!

I know that my near vision will continue to degrade, and over time I'll require correction to see the front sight in focus. I already see some slight blurring of the front sight on occasion, depending on the ambient light, and where I'm holding the gun. But when that time comes, I'll still ignore making any distance correction for shooting.

I've been warned that I'm a candidate for cataract surgery some day. I figure if I can get my knees fixed too I'll be a "young" shooter someday!

Monday, January 2, 2017

Wrapping Up Vacation

I'm sitting here drinking my second cup of coffee on the last day of vacation and listening to the rain falling outside. I feel the start of a cold coming on, but at least it didn't start during the week off. I take a "staycation" this time each year. Unlike my summer time vacation, many of my co-workers are off as well, so I get few "emergency" texts, and my daily email check is done quickly.

Reflecting on the past week, it was a fun time away from the daily grind. Most of the time was spent doing nothing more than, well, nothing. A lot of time was spent reading and watching TV, and falling asleep doing both. I only got out shooting twice; first our the annual Day After Christmas range trip with friends, and then a quick visit to the indoor range.

We did get away for a few days to head down to Charlotte for the Belk Bowl. How 'bout them Hokies?!?!  It was an exciting game and we enjoyed some good BBQ while we were there as well. In proof that you can never hide even in a crowd, we heard from several friends that we were shown in one of the crowd shots on TV during the ESPN broadcast. I hope they got my good side.

I suspect today will be one last lazy day before it's time to become a slave to the alarm clock once again. On the bright side, it's a four day work week.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

A New Year

There are two ways to go with the requisite New Year's Day post — reminisce about the past or make resolutions for the future. I certainly enjoy reminiscing about fun times in the past. That's why I write these Musings; it is fun (for me) to go back and re-read posts.

I see from my shooting log that I visited the range on 64 days in 2016. I shot 20 IDPA matches, including the West Virginia and Delaware State matches. On the training side, we attended Massad Ayoob's Armed Citizen’s Rules of Engagement class and John Murphy's "Minuteman Rifle Course". 

On the craft beer scene, I enjoyed around 166 different beers this year, the majority of them new to me. We also visited 36 different breweries or pubs over the course of the year. 

When it comes to looking forward, I don't make resolutions. I have some goals for the coming year — things I look forward to doing differently or better in the future. For example, I've already stepped up my live fire practice, and I'm attempting to dry fire more. I am looking forward to being able to shoot more matches this year, if the calendar and other activities cooperate. I expect to take at least one defense-related shooting class this year, and hope to get a competition-based course in as well. 

There is still a long list of Virginia breweries we've yet to visit. I also am going to make a concerted effort to try the new releases from our local brewers as they come out. Given the goals in the preceding paragraph, that will be a challenge, but I feel up to the task. 

Since we don't go out to celebrate on New Year's' Eve, and haven't in decades, the first day of the new year arrives like any other Sunday morning. I am quite happy to spend New Year's Eve watching college football or a movie with my family, while enjoying a good beer or two of course. My favorite thing about the New Year's holiday just might be that it serves to extend my annual Christmas vacation. That, and it moves us a bit closer to warmer weather and longer days.

However you choose to mark the end of 2016, I hope the future brings good things to all of you. Events of recent months do leave me optimistic for positive changes for our country in the coming months. Domestic enemies have been dealt a blow, and that doesn't bode well for enemies foreign.