Buh Bye.

Buh Bye.

I am outta here, headed off to SHOT.

One of the really neat things about the show this year is that I, along with Annette Evans, will be wandering the hallways of Sands Exhibition Center, looking for cool stuff to talk about for Shooting Illustrated. As all my efforts will be focused on what I’m doing for them, don’t expect any new content here next week.

In essence, I’ll be covering the largest gun show on the planet for the largest group of gun owners on the planet. Pretty cool.

And I *swear* I will not make it “All CZ, all the time”.

Ok, I’ll try to make it happen. But no promises.

Match Report, Louland Practical Pistol, January 11

Match Report, Louland Practical Pistol, January 11

As part of commitment to shoot more matches this year, I was able to squeeze in the Thursday night practical match at Louland Gun Club last week.

It’s a very lightweight match, usually all-steel courses of fire that have designated shooting boxes and less than 30 rounds apiece. One bay, though, is set up as a more typical USPSA stage, and that’s what we’ll look at here.

Stage Briefing
Targets A and B must be engaged from shooting area 1, else wise it’s shoot ’em as you see ’em. Target C back there is a right bastard of a shot that can only be engaged from the gap in the shooting area at the top left.

All in all, a fun little stage with a mix of hoser shots and a tight, tough shots with no-shoots.

How’d I do? Not bad.

Some things I like here:

  • I’m up and running as I do the reload. Not much hesitation at all, and I am up and on-target as quick as I can.
  • I shot the two targets at the end of the shooting area on the move, and then the last two as quickly as the ones before them. In fact, on the waveforms in the audio portion of the video, the spaces between all four shots are pretty much the same.
  • Most competitors shot the first two targets on the left side in the main shooting area from one spot, then moved up a few feet to take the partials behind the barrel. I figured out that I could split the difference and engage all four from one spot, saving me a few seconds on the stage.

Some things I don’t like here:

  • All that time shooting three shots at that first target, and I went Alpha-Mike. I figure I must have jerked the first shot (Ah, the joys of a DA/SA gun…), hit the second shot and then got a little anxious on the last one and tossed it off into the bar somewhere.
  • Everything looks good, but everything looks… slow. If I could speed everything up by a third, I’d be happy.

All in all, a good run for me. Had I not thrown that Mike, I’d have been the top non-Open shooter. As it is, I wound up third amongst iron sight shooters.

And As It Turns Out, I Have Done Just That.

And As It Turns Out, I Have Done Just That.

Me, five years ago:

According to the commenters (some of which are combat medics), I needed to start with a pressure and a tourniquet rather than the QuikClot.

Which exposes a big gaping hole (no pun intended…) in my training: Aside from CPR and some basic first aid, I’ve had no training in dealing with the effects of a negligent discharge.

Today, I’ve had a day-long course in first-aid trauma med, and I carry either an improvised tourniquet or a full-on SOF-T everywhere I go.

Cool.

Which Is Better: An Indoor Gun Range Or An Outdoor Gun Range

Which Is Better: An Indoor Gun Range Or An Outdoor Gun Range

Owning a gun is great thing, but owning a gun and shooting it on a regular basis is even better. Having a gun in your house isn’t going to make you safe anyomre than having a car on your driveway is going to get you to the corner grocery store: You have to learn how to use it safely and efficiently so it to do the job it’s supposed to do.

So what does it actually cost a new gun owner to shoot on a regular (monthly) basis? In 2013, back when I lived in Phoenix, I visited some of the local indoor and outdoor ranges to find out what a monthly practice session might cost a new shooter. My assumption is that you’ll go to the range and spend an hour shooting 50 rounds of FMJ ammo from a 9mm pistol at three different man-sized targets, which based on my experience, is about what most casual shooters do on a typical day at the range.

Ranges: Rio Salado Sportsman’s Club (outdoors), Ted’s Shooting Range (indoors), Caswell’s Shooting Range (indoors), Phoenix Rod and Gun Club (outdoors), Scottsdale Gun Club (indoors) and Shooters World (indoors).
Lane Rental: One person for one hour
Ammo: 50 rounds of 9mm FMJ. For ranges without ammo sales (PRGC, Rio), I used the price of a box of 9mm at my local WalMart.
Gun Rental: A 9mm pistol for one hour. For ranges without gun rentals, I used the cost of a typical quality 9mm pistol ($540) spread out over 12 months.
Membership: One year’s individual membership. Range memberships at Ted’s is for 14 months, not a year, so I reduced that amount for comparison purposes.

Just VisitingLane RentalAmmoGun RentalMonthly CostYearly Cost 
Rio Salado$5.00$13.00$45.00*$18.00$756.00
Caswells$15.00$21.00$7.00$43.00$516.00
Ted's Shooting Range$14.00$18.00$9.00$41.00$492.00
Shooters World$15.00$15.00$10.00$40.00$480.00
Scottsdale Gun Club$15.00$14.00$14.00$43.00$516.00
Phoenix Rod and Gun Club$14.00$13.00$45.00*$27.00$864.00
With MembershipLane RentalAmmoGun RentalMonthly CostYearly CostMembership
Rio Salado$0.00$13.00$45.00*$65.92$791.00$95.00
Caswells$0.00$18.90$0.00$48.07$576.80$350.00
Ted's Shooting Range$0.00$18.00$4.50$44.17$530.00$260.00
Shooters World$0.00$14.25$5.00$40.08$481.00$250.00
Scottsdale Gun Club$0.00$13.00$0.00$44.67$536.00$380.00
Phoenix Rod and Gun Club$0.00$13.00$45.00*$71.75$861.00$165.00

* $45 / month reflects the cost of owning your own pistol, spread out over 12 months

So for just a couple hundred dollars more per year or so, memberships at Rio Salado or Phoenix Rod and Gun look like a real bargain, right? After all, that price includes a new gun, and they have long-distance rifle ranges as well.

Not so fast.

First off, they’re outdoor ranges. Not bad, now that temperatures in the Phoenix area are leveling off, but that sucks when it’s 115 degrees outside or, for colder climes, if it’s winter and the snow is waist-deep on the ground.

Secondly, the public ranges at both outdoor ranges have a minimum distance that you can set up targets, about 8 yards or so. Not a big issue for some, but if you’re trying to train a new shooter, it can get discouraging for them to shoot and shoot and shoot and not see decent groups on the target.

Thirdly, you can pull down at a set up targets at an outdoors public range only during cold range times, and those happen on a schedule, and not when you need them.

Finally, most outdoor ranges have pistol bays, where you’ll be the only one shooting and you can set up and take down targets however you like. These are where the real improvement happens, as shooters can set up advanced drills that involve drawing from a holster, moving with your gun in-hand and multiple targets at multiple distances.

So which should you chose?

That depends on your needs. I use both on a regular basis. I’ve been a member at Rio for over 5 years. I like their public range, and I like the people. But I’ve come to appreciate the comfort of indoor shooting and the convenience of reserving a lane in advance in an indoor range.

It comes down to what kind of a shooter you are. A public outdoor range membership is great for people who know what they want in a firearm and don’t need (or want) to try out new guns. However, indoor rental ranges are the perfect for  people getting into the shooting sports: For less than $50 a month, you can try out many different firearms and find the one(s) that suit you best and lets you grow into firearms ownership at your pace.

Either way, there are no bad choices: The worst day at the range is still better than the best day in the office.

Lighten Up, Francis.

Lighten Up, Francis.

I have a friend who’s AntiFa, and his response when I suggested that maybe violence wasn’t the answer for his group was “Well, when I’m being threatened with violence, what choice to I have?” *

In other words, he hit me, so I have no choice but to hit him back.

Bull crap. That is a child’s response to violence: “Of course I hit him, he hit me first! I HAD to hit him!” **

“No choice?” We are humans, not animals. We learned to override our baser instincts around the same time one of us figured out that a burning branch wasn’t something to be afraid of, but rather, it was good for warmth and illumination and starting barbecues.

No, we do not always have control over the actions of others, but we always, ALWAYS have control over our reactions. Any cop could probably tell you about the times they’ve had some poor fool sitting on a curb in cuffs, watching a friend bleed out in front of them say something like, “Man, I didn’t want to do it, but he just wouldn’t back down.” At that point, one life is over, and one life is ruined. Who hit whom first is a bit of a moot point. I’m not willing to let this beautiful country with its beautiful freedoms go away just because a bunch of children started arguing over who threw the first punch.

* I’m old enough to remember when Martin Luther King Jr. was reviled by the right and loved by the left. My, how things have changed.
** I haven’t heard that said in our house since my youngest son turned ten, which speaks volumes about the emotional age of Antifa and other groups.

Ruger Continues To Break New Ground.

Ruger Continues To Break New Ground.

A Ruger shooting team? Anchored by Doug Koenig? Will wonders never cease?

Ruger’s never had a professional team, but today’s product mix gives them guns capable of competing in everything from cowboy action and rimfire challenge matches to practical disciplines like IDPA and USPSA, Steel Challenge, Bianchi Cup, even long range precision rifle matches.

What will raise eyebrows even higher across the industry is the identity of their new team captain: Doug Koenig.

After fourteen very successful years as a Smith & Wesson shooter, Koenig will now be shooting Rugers. And not just in the practical disciplines. Koenig tells me he’ll be expanding his schedule to include precision rifle competitions.

And this little bit from Doug is VERY intriguing.

“When I talked with Ruger engineers, they asked me what I thought – instead of telling me what they were going to do. So, I told them what I would like to see in a Ruger competition pistol, and it seemed like they were really listening.”

Let’s face it. Yes, Jessie shoots for Taurus, but does anyone REALLY think that her Open gun has any Taurus parts in it whatsoever? However, a competition-ready 1911 from Ruger, built to Doug Koening’s specifications would give Colt and SIG a run for their money.

Interesting times ahead.

The Rule To Every Exception.

The Rule to Every Exception.

Yes, in general, car guns are a bad idea.

But four days out of seven, I carry an LCP2 with no reload in my vicinity, so it’s nice knowing that there’s something nearby with a little more oomph to it. Is there a chance that my car could be broken into? Sure, I’ve had my car broken into, and I’ve learned from my mistakes. I had my truck broken into once because someone mistook my Bible in its leather cover for a purse, broke a window and ran off with that and a $40 leather jacket. I’ve lost camera gear due to truck break-ins, and every time it happened, I made the stupid mistake of leaving my gear out in plain view.

Unless it’s a riot situation where EVERYBODY’S car is getting trashed, crooks don’t break into random cars: They are looking for something, and when they see it, they balance the risk vs. reward and go for it.

No reward? Less risk. MUCH less risk.

The Button Pusher.

The Button Pusher.

A great example of why you want to hire a professional photographer.

It's all in the knowing how.

I have a friend who describes his job as being paid $100 to push a button. $1 of that fee is actually pushing the button, the other $99 is knowing what button to push, and when to push it.

People who aren’t professional shooters tend to focus on gear, specifically the camera. However, people who are actually working pros tend to focus on how to manipulate light, and the camera is tertiary at best. Some of them, like Ansel Adams and Robert Frank, learn how to adapt the light that’s there to what they want to see. Others, like Irving Penn* and Mark Seliger, learn how to add and subtract light until the get what they want.

These guys know that no amount of money invested in a camera is going to make up for sucky lighting, but they learned early to either how to master the existing light, or else a few dollars spent on a decent beginner’s strobe setup and a few more dollars (and a little time) spent on learning how to use light will make all the difference in the freaking world in your pictures.

Look at those two shots above: Unless you knew what the light actually looked like and knew what was needed to make it look better, you’d have taken the first shot. More importantly, because this was a wedding, you wouldn’t get a second chance to get a good shot?

Understand the metaphor yet, or do I have to hammer it home a bit more?

The photog knew he needed to solve the challenge of getting a good shot at that time and at that place, and he knew that a camera alone was not up to the task. As a result, he relied on his training and experience to under-expose the ambient light by at least two stops and then fill in the subject with a strobe light so that she’s properly exposed.

He also knew that standing up and shooting the camera at eye level wasn’t going to get him the results he wanted, so he got out of his comfort zone and got onto his belly to make the shot.

Get it yet, or do I have to use the phrase “tools in the toolbox” on ya? 🙂

Learn the rules. Learn to adapt the rules. Learn which gear helps you execute the rules to their fullest extent.

Then go have fun.


* If you’re doing commercial photography, specifically product photography, and you don’t know who Irving Penn is, chances are, you’re doing it wrong. What ol’ AA was to landscape photography, Irving Penn was to taking pictures for a client. It starts with him, so start there.