Don't mess with my wife

Mission accomplished

That's gonna leave a mark.

That’s her results with my CZ75 and P07 from 15-25 feet. And it gets better with the S&W K-22 revolver her Dad gave to us when he passed away. 

pop pop pop

I’ll leave any more training she might need to the experts

A few observations from this outing… 

  1. I wasn’t the only one. In the lane next to us was a young man teaching his girlfriend to shoot and there was another couple a few lanes over as well (and my wife out-shot ’em both 😀 ). 
  2. An hour or two of dry-fire practice beforehand REALLY paid off on the range. 
  3. .22 revolvers ROCK as a gun for first-time shooters. My wife learned a smooth, sustained trigger pull by starting out with the K-22 and the recoil and noise was non-existent. 

What’s the secret for teaching your spouse to shoot? Patience, encouragement, reasonable expectations and a willingness to do something they like (but you don’t) in return.

I’ve been wanting to get her out to the range for months now, and I think I was able to do this outing because I started showing interest in her activities, so she started showing interest in mine. I wasn’t expecting my wife to turn into Debbie Keehart overnight, but I did want her to know how to safely operate the gun(s) we have for home defence, and in return, I’m going to the new Harry Potter movie with her next month. If and when we go shooting again, I’d like her to try out some rental guns: She had issues hitting the mag release button and slide lock lever on both my CZ’s, some maybe there’s something out there more suited to her hands. The big takeaway from today was her safety habits were/are first-rate, and that makes a trainer ‘s job so much easier.

Eight Guns

Chris Bryne does an excellent job of laying out what a basic armory should consist of

  1. A quality full sized defensive pistol. Either a medium frame revolver (preferably in .357 magnum), or a good medium frame autopistol that you are comfortable with, in a suitable defensive chambering (SIG p series in 9mm or larger, Glock, a good 1911 etc…).
  2. A quality pump action shotgun in 12 or 20ga, preferably with slug/rifle sights, and easily interchangeable barrels (you want a short defensive barrel, a medium game hunting barrel, and a wingshooting barrel).
  3. A quality repeating bolt action or semi-automatic rifle in a militarily useful chambering, accurate to at least 300 yards (2 moa minimum accuracy), legal for hunting medium game in your state (which usually leaves out 5.56); with  a good scope, and if possible a backup optic or iron sights.
  4. A quality .22lr pistol or revolver
  5. A quality .22lr rifle, bolt or semi (or pump/slide if you like them, and can find one)
  6. A quality semi-automatic rifle or carbine, in a militarily useful chambering (possibly sharing a chambering with the boltie), short enough to be handled indoors, and light enough to be packed on a long hike; preferably with both iron sights and an optic (this presumes #3 above was a bolt action).
  7. A quality revolver or semi-automatic pistol in a defensively useful chambering, of a size suitable to be carried concealed in summer without bulky covering garments, preferably with night sights.  
  8. A quality pocket gun, either semi or revolver, in .380, 9mm, or .38/.357. 

This is the basics. This will allow you to casually shoot just about any sport, hunt for just about any game in North America or learn how to defend your home and your family. It doesn’t have any dedicated competition or over-specialized hunting/defensive guns. If you want to shoot IPSC or skeet or 3 Gun at a high level, you’ll need other guns dedicated to just those purposes.

So what is “Quality”?

Well, a (very) rough guideline would be $450 or more for a defensive pistol or shotgun, $300 or more for a pocket pistol, $250 or more for a .22 rifle or pistol, $800 or more for a semi-automatic rifle or bolt-action rifle with (cheap) scope. 

As I said, VERY rough, because a $450 1911 .45 isn’t exactly “quality”, but on the other hand, you can get first-rate used .38 revolvers for almost half that amount. 

When I said “very rough”, I meant it. 

Now, what should you get within each of those categories? That’s up to you. If you’re like me, (and I know I am), here’s what I’d get. 

1. A quality full sized defensive pistol.
CZ75. 9mm, 16+1 rounds. Solid, reliable and quite possibly the most accurate centerfire semiautomatic pistol ever made. Go for a Glock if you want more accessories or an M+P or XD if you want the light weight of plastic but hate Glocks.

2. A quality pump action shotgun in 12 or 20ga. 
I come down on the Mossberg side of the great Mossberg vs. Remington debate (though I do love my 870 Wingmaster). I’m cross-eye dominant and shoot long guns left-handed, so the Mossberg’s safety is easier to use for me. 

3. A quality repeating bolt action or semi-automatic rifle. 
I’m going to plead ignorance here. The one gun I own that suits this purpose is a sporterized M1903 Springfield and I suck at long-range shooting, so pick what you like best here. If I HAD to chose one, I’d go with a Savage Model 12 in .308 with a left-handed bolt.

4. A quality .22lr pistol or revolver
Either a Ruger Mark whatever or a Browning Buckmark for semiautos (ever since my M22 broke, I’m hesitant to recommend them) or an S+W K22 revolver. 

5. A quality .22lr rifle, bolt or semi.
Ruger 10/22. Just get one; everybody does eventually. If not that, then a CZ bolt action rifle

6. A quality semi-automatic rifle or carbine
AR-15 or AK. Take your pick here – An AR for accuracy and versatility, an AK for reliability (though “light” and “AK” aren’t usually used in the same sentence…).

7. A quality revolver or semi-automatic pistol of a size suitable to be carried concealed in summer.
Even though I have defended the pocket 9mm in the past, (which’d be perfect for this role), I’d be sorely tempted to look at a snub-nosed .38 revolver for this purpose. 

8. A quality pocket gun, either semi or revolver, in .380, 9mm, or .38/.357. 
Ruger LCP/LCR, Kel-Tec P3AT, Taurus TCP, S+W Bodyguard. Your choice here. 

So, what’s the damage? 

Defensive Pistol: $450
Shotgun: $450
Bolt Action Rifle: $800
.22 Pistol $250
.22 Rifle $250
Semi-Auto Carbine: $800
Compact Defensive Pistol: $450
Pocket Pistol: $300

Base Cost: $3,750
REAL COST: $10,000

Yep, ten grand.

Why so much? 

  • You’re going to want training. CCW permits, personal protection classes, hunting permits and expedition costs, whatever. Even it it’s just plinking on the public range, club memberships cost money.
  • You’re going to want accessories. Holsters, belts, slings, magazines, etc. I have more holsters than my wife has dress shoes. 
  • You’re going to want ammo. Lots of it. The .22’s will help cut down on costs, but to be proficient with firearms you need to shoot the firearms you want to be proficient in. Simple as that. 

But when you think of it, ten grand is what a good golf holiday costs these days, and for the same money, rather than chase after a ball with a crooked stick, you’ve got the means to defend yourself, hunt for sport or food, and have acquired heirlooms to pass down to generations to come. 

Not a bad way to spend your cash. 

 

Range Review – Caswell’s Shooting Range

Caswell's

Caswell’s has been in Mesa, Arizona for over twenty years, but they’ve recently acquired new ownership. I got a chance to talk to the Carolann Bergeson, the new Director of Operations about the changes at Caswell’s and what that means to shooters in the East Valley.

Interior of Caswell's

There are over a dozen gun stores in the Mesa area, including heavy hitters like Bass Pro Shops and Sportsman’s Warehouse, which could make for over-saturation of the market. Caswell’s has found success by focusing on the personal protection and hobby shooter rather than pursuing the hunting and outdoor markets and ties in their sales department with a full range of training options and the popularity of their indoor range. Their 11 bay range has electronic target retrieval systems and air-conditioning (a welcome relief in the Arizona summer) and are staffed with friendly range officers to help keep everyone safe.

With Arizona removing the permit requirements for concealed carry last year, demand for the state-approved CCW course has dropped off, but Caswell’s has seen a marked improvement in other training courses like their Intro to Firearms and Defensive Pistol classes.

Guns. Lots of guns.

One of my pet peeves is gun store clerks who treat you rudely or ignore paying customers in favor of chatting with their friends, and I asked Carolann about their customer service training.

“The key to good service is first making sure you have enough people behind the counter”, she said, “and then making sure they know what good customer service is. We coach our sales staff and have monthly feedback and training sessions where they tell us what the customers are asking for and we coach them on the best way to help the customer. We want salespeople who are courteous and helpful and have a real enthusiasm for the job.”

Range

Another pet peeve is gun store customers who shop for their wives/girlfriend and insist on getting a snub-nosed .38 or something similar, and I asked Carolann what her staff does in that situation.

“We ask the person themselves what they want in a gun. We’ve found that if we get them talking about what they’ve shot in the past, we can find the right gun for them, and if we can’t, we suggest they try a few pistols out on our range before making a decision.”

I also asked Carolann what her pistol of choice was: “A 9mm HK I got as a gift, but I’ve been trying out some of the rental guns and I think I might want to make a change.”

The indoor range and the training options it provides are what sets Caswell’s apart, allowing prospective gun buyers to try a rental version of the pistol they’re considering before they buy it, and if they chose to buy a new gun that day, Caswell’s will discount the range fee off the purchase price.

Urban Firearms Institute

Caswell’s is located at 856 E. Isabella Ave. Mesa, AZ 85204. Their phone number is 480-497-5141 / 1-888-72SHOOT and they can be found online at www.caswells.com.

All photos c. 2011 Exurbanleague.com

Reduce, reuse, repurpose

Turns out that the man purse messenger bag that WAS my old bailout bag makes a durn handy range bag for the rifle/shotgun matches at Rio.

Gear bag

I can carry rifle mags and ammo in my rifle case but what I can’t easily carry around a match is boxes of shotgun shells, water and my coupled-together magazines. The messenger bag does this rather well, and it has enough leftover space for a pair of binos for those long range shots, a multitool and a few energy bars to snack on while waiting for my turn to shoot. 

Learning from Red Bull

Consider this video for the Red Bull Air Racing World Series: What can we learn from it when it comes to promoting practical shooting?

1. Personality goes a long way. The nationality of each pilot is up front and center, giving us a reason to cheer (or boo) right off the bat. 

2. Fan-friendly venues. The fans can see the action at the venue know the score as the event happens. Ever gone to a USPSA match or IDPA match as a spectator? From personal experience, I can tell you they really suck to watch (80% of a squad’s time on a stages is spent with walk-throughs, scoring and taping). 3 Gun Nation does a great job at distilling the essence of three-gun down to an exciting competition, but a little bleacher seating and some local promotion would go  help bring in more people to the sport.

3. Real-time scoring. The fact is, you can’t tell from watching a USPSA or IDPA competition who is doing well in the match and who isn’t. Sure, a competitor may ace a stage, but what that means to the match as a whole is a mystery until the final day of the match when all the scores are tallied.

4. Big-time sponsors. Smith and Wesson, FNUSA and Cheaper Than Dirt’s revenues COMBINED probably don’t add up to one-eighth of the money that Red Bull makes in the U.S. alone. Bass Pro Shops teaming up with Top Shot is great step in this direction (even if all they show is fishing commercials during the show). 

Kids and guns

The quotes of the day are from this discussion of shotgun locks over at The High Road:

“I’m reminded of: ‘If Plan A is to take multiple .338 shots to the back, you really need to come up with a Plan B.
I’ll make a parents version: If plan A is to depend on the wisdom of a 4 year old, you really need to come up with a Plan B.’

‘I don’t trust kids…especially boys. I was one.’ “

Just yesterday, my 7 year old son managed to climb a six-foot cinder block fence without the aid of a ladder and my 5 year old son spent the afternoon “decorating” his room with Magic Marker, so let me say I’ve gone WAY beyond Plan B and I’m into Plans Q and R right now.

The gun to have if you can only have one

I’ll admit it, when I first started reading about Jeff Cooper and his ideas about self defense, I didn’t “get” the idea behind a scout rifle. It seemed to be quaint and antiquated in a world of AR’s and AK’s, and besides, semi-autos had more firepower and precision rifles were more accurate, so why get a rifle that was a compromise.

I get it now, though.

It’s not that a scout rifle is the optimal self-defense rifle or the last word in 800 yard tack drivers, rather, a scout rifle gives you 85% of both of those rifles in a package that’s small and light so that you’ll have it with you when you need it and is reliable enough to go *bang* when you need it as well.

Do I *need* a rifle like that? No.

Do I want one? Oh yeah.

Update: Hey, if you’re coming to this page from various parts of the Internet (and beyond), feel free to stick around and visit the home page for more and/or follow me on Twitter.

Plastic Fantastic

Lower

Earlier this year, I won a gun (ok, an AR Lower, but it counts, right?) off the prize table at the Superstition Mountain Mystery Three Gun.

And here’s what it turned into. 

Cav Arms lower + MagPul

  • CavArms Lower
  • 16″ Dane Armory barrel
  • VM HyTech Upper from my old AR
  • Magpul forend 
  • No-name handle and front sight

It’s unbelievably light, shoots very well and will make a great plinker/defense gun for when I don’t want to use the UEBR.

Shooting sports

Michael Bane write about the growing popularity of the (non-hunting) shooting sports

The big trend for 2010 is the bigger than expected successes of shooting competitions on television, led by TOP SHOT on History and 3-GUN NATION on Versus. I hear channels are scrambling for more shooting programming. 

Well duh. What took them so long?

First-person shooter games have been around for thirty years, which means for thirty years, we’ve been running around and shooting things in a virtual environment. It only makes sense that the same impulses that drive us to blast the legions from hell would drive us out to the range and try our hand at the real thing. 

So what would a TV-friendly shooting show look like? Well, a lot like Top Shot or 3 Gun Nation, actually. Head-to-head competition is what makes slalom skiing so exciting, and that’s another sport that relies on technique to shave thousands of an inch at every opportunity, which is also happens to be the key to winning practical shooting. 

And, to quote Jules Winnfield, personality goes a long way. Top Shot drew in so many viewers because we were attracted to the people of the sport, and not just the sport itself. NASCAR gets this, practical shooting needs to learn this, too. 

A few more things to get practical shooting more TV-friendly: 

– Reactive targets and/or real-time scoring. Waiting around for an RO to yell out “Two Alpha” (or in my case, “Charlie Mike”) is boring. Steel is good, some kind of electronic target that shows hits in real-time would be better.

– Side by side comparisons of runs. Why did Mike Voight beat Taran Butler on Stage Three? Was it because he shot a bit faster or a bit cleaner? Showing the same run using identical camera angles and editing would go a long way into helping others understand the sport. 

– Colour commentary. Many, many football fans rely on the experts in the booth to tell them why a wishbone offense is a better idea in a given situation than the shotgun, and it’s the same with practical shooting. Why did a competitor screw the pooch on a given stage? Why did one do better? Without a colour commentator, you have to be involved in the sport to know why. A good TV host can open the competition and the sport to people who aren’t shooters, making it even more popular. 

If paintball can be shown on ESPN, why can’t USPSA? Imagine how popular IPSC would get if Dave Sevigny was on the Wheaties box…