This One Time, At Band Camp…

This was posted in a gun group that I belong to on Facebook.

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What’s interesting is that when people commented about him escalating the situation by “yelling out the car window” his response was “I normally do that, but this time, it happened in a school zone.”

Think about that for a second. You can follow the rules 99% of the time, but that one time you don’t, you almost have to shoot someone.

“I do it all the time, but this time, I didn’t” means, well, you DON’T do it ALL the time, you make exceptions.

Was there any reason not to de-escalate here? Was he in fear for his life?

The prosecution doesn’t care about the 99 times you did it right. They will convict you on the one time you did it wrong.

Winter (and Hurricane Matthew) Are Coming.

“When you’re you’re prepared for the zombie apocalypse, a hurricane is just another storm”

Yeah, so this might be headed our way.

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Not that worried. We have hurricane shutters if we need them, and we also have a month’s worth of freeze-dried food, bottled water (and a WaterBob as well), flashlights galore and all kinds of other gear.

Unless our home is ripped from its foundation and lifted up into the aether, we should be ok.

The Gun Rights Policy Conference Is Over For This Year

What would a Gun Responsibility Conference look like?

All rights come with responsibilities. All of them. Abuse a right, use it irresponsibly, and society will diminish that role of that right in society. Libel and slander laws exist because people abuse the right of free speech. Trespassing laws exist because people abuse the right of free assembly, and felony assault is just one way that people abuse the right to keep and bear arms.

But it goes beyond that. People have the right of free assembly and free speech, so they stand on street corners and yell at crowds that they’re going to hell.

Legal? Yes. Effective? Probably not, and people that do so tend to be left out the conversation when the rest of society is talking about matters of faith.

It’s important that we understand that rights which happen in a vacuum aren’t really rights that affect society. You want to change the world? Good. Start with your small corner and take a friend who’s never shot a gun before out to the gun range for a day of shooting. That will probably do more to change people’s minds than a thousand open carry events.

To be clear, there were plenty of people at the Gun Rights Policy Conference who made the case for responsible actions promoting gun rights. A speaker from Kansas, the Hon. Phillip B. Journey in particular made it a point that the fight for the right of self-defense is a long game, not a short one, and that we win when we take people shooting.

Shooting is fun. Sanctimonious self-righteousness is not, and the arc of history tends towards fun.

A Glittering Cavalcade Of Gun Rights Celebrities.

And me.

I’ll be getting up at Zero-Dark-Thirty tomorrow in order to drive up to Tampa for the Second Amendment Foundation’s Gun Rights Policy Conference. Scheduled to appear are people like Florida Governor Rick Scott, gun lawyer extraordinaire Alan Gura, Linda Walker from the NRAand John Lott, who literally wrote the book on this sort of thing.

The conference will be live-streamed on Saturday and Sunday, look for a post with the stream up on Ricochet.com tomorrow.

I’ll be the one not wearing pants.

Product Review: Sunjack 14w Charger +1400maH battery

Sunjack 8w + 1400mah battery charger

I was recent sent a Sunjack 14w solar charger with an 8000maH battery for review*. I was looking forward to getting this kit and doing this review because I believe that the modern smartphone is an essential part of starting safe, and a smartphone (and some way to charge it) is an essential part of your “bug out” gear, and I’m pleased to report the charger and battery did not disappoint.

The Sunjack 14w Charger +1400maH battery is a great option for creating power to keep your smartphone up and running without connecting it to the power grid. About the same size as an iPad and weighing about as much as a large paperback book, it differs from cheaper solar chargers in that it charges a battery which then charges your phone.

Charger and battery outdoors

When the SunJack charger first arrived, the battery was half-charged, so I drained completely by recharging my iPhone with it and then plugged it into the charger and left it outdoors for 8 hours. I should note that I live in Florida and it’s the middle of hurricane season, but despite the partly cloudy skies, eight hours was enough to fully charge the battery. The fully-charged battery took two hours to recharge my iPhone 6+ from 10% charge to fully charged. The battery can also be charged up via a wall socket and a (not included) wall charger, and I found it that to be a faster way of recharging it than sticking it out in the sun (albeit one that only works if you have a working wall socket nearby).

chargingIf you’re like me (and I know I am), you rely on a smartphone for so much more than making phone calls. I’ve loaded up mine with useful things like an emergency radio scanner, a ballistics app and an e-book reader, so my phone is pretty much always by my side. I found the SunJack 8w+1400maH battery/charger to work just as expected, and it’s now a “must have” accessory for me if I leave the urban wilderness for something even more untamed. If there’s one thing I’d change about it, I’d ask them to toss in an iPhone Lightning-compatible cable with it along with the micro-USB cable it comes with, because, well, because iPhone, that’s why.

You can pick up the SunJack battery and charger at Amazon or on their website: www.sunjack.com/products/sunjack-14w-8000mah-battery


* Dear FTC, NSA, FDA and TVA: I’m putting in this sentence here because you want me to, but seriously, I say that this was sent to me “for review” right in the first paragraph. Do I have to rub your nose in it, like a puppy that needs to be potty-trained?

Analyzing Your Performance With Video

I had a chance to play around with the Max Michel Shot Coach app this weekend with Jeff Street of Step By Step Gun Training.

I likely. Here’s a demo video made by the Shot Coach app people to show you what it’s like.

For $5, it’s hard to go wrong, especially if you’re in the business of helping others shoot better. While it’s designed for competitive shooting, it works really well with just about any firearms-related activity. The more you know about how to get shots on-target quickly and accurately, the more this app will be of use to you. As for myself, thanks to this app, I found out that while I was lifting my support hand up nice and high when grabbing and clearing my cover garment, I was letting it drop down to waist-level before extending out my pistol, leading to slower first shots.

Whoops.

Check it out for yourself, you may be surprised with how it helps you.

The Beatlemania of Guns.

TriStar p120 accuracy

Not bad for 25 yards.

I gotta be honest: When I was asked to review  the TriStar P120, I did so with all the enthusiasm of a Porsche fan who’s been asked to drive around a kit car for a few days.

“C’mon,” I said, “I’m a CZ fan, not a CZ knockoff fan. You’re asking a gourmet chef to review Burger King.”

And then the pistol was shipped out to me, and I shot it, and you know what?

It’s not bad. Pretty darn good, actually.

For a $500 MSRP, you get an accurate (I managed 1.2″ groups at 25 yards with the thing), reliable (it ate 250 rounds of mixed 9mm ammo from Lucky Gunner with no issues at all) pistol that takes CZ magazines, sights and holsters made for the SP-01.

It ain’t pâté de foie gras, but ain’t chopped liver, either, and the 17+1 rounds in P120, with a rail-mounted light or laser in a small, quick-access gun safe would make a HECK of a home defense

Go check out my full review at Shooting Illustrated.

To The Gentleman In The White Pickup Truck Driving Eastbound On Immokalee Road Wednesday Night,

Dear Sir,

You’ve festooned the rear window of your truck with stickers that extol your favorite firearms and have augmented those with even more stickers advertising the NRA’s “Stand and Fight” campaign and all this is topped off with another sticker with an exhortation that reads “Don’t Tread On Me”.

I’m glad you enjoy guns and are willing to tell other people about your involvement with the Second Amendment.

However, you would be a better ambassador for firearms in general and the NRA in specific if you weren’t driving like an absolute maniac on a crowded rush-hour street. Dodging in and out of traffic and tailgating everyone who wasn’t going fast enough for your liking might be your way of letting the world know you’re “take charge” kinda guy and not a sheeple, but to me, it says you have no idea how to behave safely while in charge of a potentially dangerous instrument like a motor vehicle. Your reckless actions behind the wheel makes everyone around you (including me) very nervous, and in particular, it makes me wonder if you act as recklessly when you have one of your beloved firearms in your hands.

People read your stickers, and they watch what you do. One thing that was drilled into my head as I was preparing to be a missionary in Latin America is that I would be a missionary 24/7, not just when I was in missionary HQ.  People would look at my actions as a model of how Christians are to behave, and use how I behaved (or misbehaved) as a ruler for what being a Christian was all about. I learned the sometimes painful lesson that consistency and sincerity are better advocates for a cause than stickers and loud noises.

This is a lesson that you need to learn, Mr. Pickup Driver. Your stickers show your passions, but your behavior behind the wheel shows us your inability to control them.

Sincerely, and with great affection,

Me.

Equipment Upgades.

Nope, not gun stuff, photo stuff.

I’m looking at doing some more photo work for money (the best kind of photo work there is) in the near future, and I wanted to upgrade my lighting a bit.

I’ve been using light-painting quite a lot for my product photography work (with some pretty good results), but light-painting doesn’t work too well when you want to freeze a moving subject, so strobe power is what I needed.

I learned strobes by playing around with Vivitar 285s and sync cords, so the relatively cheap, powerful strobes and radio slaves of today just blow me away. Even the cheap stuff is really, really good and easily available.

From left to right:

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Neewer TT260 Strobe: This is not a whiz-bang TTL strobe with all the bells and whistles, but what it does, it does well. With a Guide Number of 180, it’s got a good amount of throw for a shoe-mounted flash (the 283s I learned on had a Guide Number of 120 at best), and for $40, I can use it and abuse it and not break the bank.

Neewer Radio Slaves: When I was shooting (snapsnap) for living, radio slaves cost a LOT of money, and some still do. These give me all the functionality of the radio slaves of the past at a fraction of the cost.
I love living in the future.

Neewer Remote Trigger: A wireless remote trigger for just over $5? Yes, please!

All this stuff (plus a light stand and a hot shoe stand adapter) will get your light off the top of the camera and out in the wild where it can do some really, really cool things, For example, here’s a shot I did for a former employer.

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That photo was taken with my ancient Nikon D70, and white/gold reflector and this photo setup, but just about any off-camera flash and a few light modifiers would get similar results. This was far from the most sophisticated lighting equipment and setup I’ve ever worked on, but it worked. Here’s the lighting setup:

lighting

I positioned the main light to her left because I knew she’d be standing with her right shoulder forward and I wanted the light to wrap around her face. Also,  a light from that direction would minimize the reflections on her glasses (Angle of Incidence = Angle of Reflection: It’s not just a good idea, it’s the law!). The hair light to the left and behind was to pop her out from the dark background, and the gold reflector was for warmth and also help separate her out from the background. I wasn’t too concerned about defining the shape of her head any more than that because a) there was shiny, shiny glass behind her that would reflect any light to her right and b) the light on the subjects int the would help separate her out. The light on the guys in back was dead-simple but I have to goose it up a bit because the light was further away from them than the main subject and it had to travel through glass. I had a small (2’x2′) soft box on the closer lights for a smoother, more controllable light and the back light had barn doors because I had to cover a lot of ground with it.

All this was setup and shot in under an hour and it went fast because I saw the shot I wanted in my mind first and I had enough practice at this sort of thing to make it happen.

There’s about 52 different ways what I just said could be applied to self-defense and shooting (bangbang), but I will leave that to all you to work out.