Thursday, August 28, 2014

Tony’s Bullseye Blog’s 8th Anniversary

Every year near the end of August, I write a post about the blog’s anniversary. And in doing so, I’m reminded how grateful I am to have the honor and privilege of being associated with a sport that has so many fine people.

In the past, I’ve made the claim, “I get far more out of this thing than I put into it.” And as time passes, it validates my observation.
When I first sat down to craft this post, my first inclination was to do a recap of some the better posts and interviews previously published over the past eight years. But that seemed a little hollow.

It really didn’t dawn on me until recently that I had a mission statement for the blog. I want the blog to be informative, helpfully to new shooters and promote the general well-being of the sport.
Listed below are the items I try to limit myself to, and why.

Occasionally I attempt to provide information that some may perceive as news or basic updates relative to the sport. There’re plenty of old posts in the blog dealing with upcoming matches, analysis of ammo and components, highlights about shooting products—and at times—rule  changes.
In our modern era, it’s important to be reasonably informed on the issues that shape our sport.

Unfortunately there are instances when politics percolates to the surface.

Over the past month and a half I’ve tried to keep you informed, especially those who don’t attend the Nationals, about the evolving issue of electronic targets.

My own opinion is it’s a game changer. But it’s also an issue rightly deserving proper investigation.
Allow me to clarify a few things. First off, I’m not a journalist or reporter. Hopefully none of you ever came away with the impression that I attempted to be one.

Since I have absolutely no credentialing or standing as a member of the media, it’s a one-way street. What you read on my blog comes from my keyboard directly to your monitor or smartphone. Be apprised, I’m biased. I believe in basic but intangible things such as tradition, fair play and the simple but elegant respect we typically have for one another.

As to the current issue with electronic targets, in an earlier time, most of us would have simply awakened one morning and found to our surprise the game and its related rules had substantially changed.
Currently the jury’s still out as to whether I’ll publish future posts on this topic. I’ll wait to see what presents itself, and then decide.

As a group of people we’re extremely safety conscious, almost to the point of being labeled anal. And if others want to call us Safety Snobs; so be it. None the less, near the first week of January I typically write a piece to encouraging everyone on being vigilant with safety.
Even the most experienced shooter can have a momentary and unintentional lapse of judgment.  And the price to be paid can be extremely high.

Aside from a few safety tips that I typically peel off, I’ll throw in some Driver’s Ed nightmare photos to shove the point home.
I’ve been fortunate that many of the individuals who posed for those photos genuinely wanted them distributed for the benefit of the shooting public. (read as: please don't ever do what I just did.) And many of them were kind enough to collaborate with me on many of the older safety posts.

The basic message is pretty simple: Sometimes s!*t happens and then you can’t un-ring the bell. It’s a message I feel is important for newbies entering the sport. We handle loaded firearms all day long. Be cognizant that its incredibility easy to drift into complacency, and then do something dumb by not giving the most basic safety guidelines a second thought.

Training and Tips
When I first started to write my blog it wasn’t intended for anyone other than me. That was a long time ago. In the beginning, access to cloud service wasn’t even offered to the public. The blog was my digital shooting diary. It conveniently appeared no matter where I was or when I wanted it. It couldn’t burn, be carried away by the family pet or unintentionally castoff by my lovely spouse while she did spring cleaning. Availability was always a click away.

Working hard on the mental aspect
The pieces I wrote during the first three years were the things others taught me, insights to problems I overcame, and items I didn’t want to relearn after extended periods of time.

For the last several years most of the tips (if you want to call them that) I posted were offered from others far more skilled than me.  And I’m very thankful for all their help.

A post having a disclaimer is a sign I’m broadcasting caution about the quality of the content: Those were pieces where I was completely unassisted and enlightened by my own experiences.  You know, flying solo.
Although, when it comes to training I feel confident most new shooters are like sponges. They’re enthused and amped-up to go somewhere. I hope they’ve been assisted here to some minor degree.

Promoting the Sport
I’ve been in love with bullseye for almost nine years. There are so many things that are unique to its basic chemistry. Just about everyone is gracious, helpful, encouraging, and in general simply standup type people. The community has its own charm intertwined with its natural selflessness.

Every time I walk onto the firing line I’m reminded how I and everyone else involved benefits from our community.  
This is one of the common threads we easily recognize between each other. And it’s something I’ve tried to broadcast to outsiders who might be potential new entrants.     

I’m all for growing our sport. And if we can’t assist with that, at least encourage others who sit on the sidelines to come and jump into the deep-end of the pool with us. Let’s face it, there are lots of people who shoot gallery or action pistol who don’t know what we do—or what we’re like. They should be actively encouraged to seek membership into our clan.   

If you’ve taken the time to read this far, I’m amiable to guest posts. Simple use the information listed above as guidance. You can reach me at:
For everyone else, enjoy the remainder of the outdoor season.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

2014 Lobster Match

The Scarborough Fish & Game Association has politely asked me to post their invitation for you to attend the 24th Annual Lobster Match. Game days are September 5, 6 and 7.

For many years this match has been on my bucket-list. And I’ve felt the pangs of anguish every time I let it slip me by.

There are Regional matches and then there are marquee matches. Regardless how you label them, few venues come close to providing a shooter with great competition and that something Else.  

That else isn’t a lobster. It’s the culmination of being in beautiful New England with great comradery. Keep in mind that life’s short and the opportunity to shoot a marquee match doesn’t come along every day.

By the way, Scarborough F&G has just received a five station Meyton electronic target system. And it’s been configured for bullseye. Yes, bullseye! But please keep in mind the Regional will be shot on traditional paper targets.
For those of you who have never used such a device here’s your chance. Scarborough F&G is looking for polite inputbefore and after the matchon how to best use these new devices for bullseye, junior development and general club enrollments.

Here is the link to Scarborough Fish & Game, Pistol Page where you can download the program and registration form.

Monday, August 18, 2014

CCP .22 Conversion Unit

In late July, I posted about several items that I thought were really cool. Actually, I own all the featured items but one.

That one item really caught my eye. It was Chambers Custom Pistols new .22 conversation unit.
Unlike others in what appears to be a crowed niche market, this unit really shines. And it appears to be incredibly accurate. The best part of my experience was its shootability.

At the Practice Range with the CCP unit
Let me define “shootablility.” It’s a process where the shooter feels as though the gun is easy to shoot well, be it slow fire or sustained. Granted it’s a subjective observation. And I’m certain there are several unique things going on inside this unit that makes one get such an impression.
Some guns just feel easy to shoot.

Others guns, like the Model 52 (with its legendary unforgiving nature), have the ability to make a shooter struggle to make a well placed shot. A gun like this feels as though every shot released during a string must be perfectly executed—micromanaged—simply to stay out of trouble. Whereby having a relaxed shot process is pretty much thrown out the window because of how it functions.
Mid-week at the Nationals, I had an opportunity to take CCP’s .22 conversion through its paces. At the time the range conditions were breezy, humid and cloudy with a sight amount of occasional precipitation. 

I own an aluminum Marvel Conversion. And with its extremely lite weight the darn thing leaps around on me during sustained fire. 
When I shot the CCP conversion unit, the first thing that came to mind was how easy it was to maintain a natural point of aim immediately after the recoil pulse. It felt as though the reticule would leap straight back at you. My sight-picture recovery came from the adjacent scoring ring or slightly less; not half way across the equivalent of a repair-center as is the case with my aluminum gun. The darn thing didn’t move much.
To my surprise without ever previously picking up this unit, I immediately cleaned one timed fire target and a rapid. It just seemed easy. I’m assuming that by using a heavier slide and having a well thought-out balancing act with the springs produced a welcomed reduction in perceived recoil.

My time on the range with this conversion unit was truly a pleasurable experience.
As I looked at this fine accomplishment of pistol craftsmanship, I was told the upper was made from a stress-proof carbon steel billet.

This thing had been coached by hand with flawless surface polishing which made its blued slide glisten, in the available but somewhat limited daylight. The CCP logo is prominently located just behind its cocking serrations. 

Occasionally I’ll tease Mr. Chambers about his “piano finish.” At others times, I’ll refer to this type of work as a “museum piece.”  Finding another 22 conversion unit this attractive will be very difficult to do.
I was assured the barrels were made to match quality. And CCP claims they’re specifically chambered to optimize the most commonly available standard velocity .22 ammo.

As well, the barrel has been threaded to accept barrel weights or a suppressor.
The rib has a unique design to help facilitate an efficient method of mounting a T series Aimpoint. Although an Ultradot can easily be attached there as well through the use of Weaver rings. And there’s an available configuration for open sights.   

Apparently several options are available with the rib. Special decorative cuts or stippling can be requested.  It all depends on your personal desire for glare mitigation, or how much you want to personalize the unit.
And as part of the package, the conversion unit comes with four polymer mags and a mag loading tool.
But the basic concept with this conversion unit was when installed on a frame, to be very close in weight to a 1911 wadgun. Give or take 2 ounces.

Five shots at fifty yards
Until recently, it was pretty much a dream many shooters desired but never fully realized: The ability to go across the course with the same type lower and similar triggers. Looks like it’s doable now.  

Mr. Chambers informs me, initially these conversion units will be sold as complete guns or “fitted” to a client’s existing lower.
Have you ever owned a .22 conversion unit that just wouldn’t reliably function?

Well, I've had that problem in the past.

Then you can understand why the smith wants them all to be fitted. Not all 1911 frames regardless who manufactures them, maintain the same or similar tolerances.  There are a lot of conversion units out there that just aren’t reliable because of this reason.

If you have an interest in a new .22 conversion unit, consider looking at CCP’s website or contract Joe Chambers directly.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Gary Anderson’s Ten Lessons for Competitive Shooters

Friends, what’s listed here is a repost of a repost. I noticed it the other day on my friend John Boul’s blog and thought it was useful.

It’s a summary of an article that Gary Anderson (CMP DCM-Emeritus) wrote on the subject of progressing in the shooting sports. It was originally published in On The Mark, on June of 2013 and titled Ten Lessons I Wished I Learned As A Young Shooter.
(You also need hard work, training effort and perseverance.)
(The key to recovering from a bad shot is to stay cool, no matter what happens.)
(Today, error analysis is one of the most powerful tools for improving scores.)
(A shot plan is a detailed breakdown of each of the steps involved in firing a shot.)
(Most competitions are fired in windy conditions or where there are plenty of distractions.)
(Negative shooters expect bad results; positive shooters expect to train hard to change bad results.)
(It’s about how hard you try to win.)
(Hopefully your coach, parents and friends won’t bite you either.)
(Winning can go to our heads. We start thinking we are so good we don’t have to work hard any more.)
(Great champions are always looking for ways to improve.)
Basically On The Mark is a publication intended for Junior shooters and their coaches. This may explain why so few of us have seen it. Granted the publication is intended for a much younger audience but it’s worth reading.

Here’s the link for the full text. It runs from page 4 to 9. And don’t be put-off by all the pictures of youthful smallbore shooters; it translates well into our sport too.


Monday, August 04, 2014

What’s the Most Famous Line from the 1976 Movie, Network?

On page 4, of the August, 2014 issue of Shooting Sports USA digital magazine, Dennis Willing made the following statement:

“The issue of changing the pistol targets at Camp Perry to electronic targets was a sore point for some, but received a vote of confidence from most people at the competitors meeting. Two electronic targets were placed on the function range for competitors to try out. Reports from the range were about 80 percent of the competitors liked them, about 15 percent had a ‘wait and see’ attitude, and about 5 percent hated them.”

If you don’t subscribe or haven’t read it yet, he’s a link.

Just because somebody says something doesn’t necessarily make it so.

Mr. Willing continued his statement by informing us about the poor state of affairs with the pistol equipment that resides at Camp Perry. If you’ve ever attended, he’s right on. The current state of the equipment is who-knows-how-old and fails routinely during the nationals. Timers fail, turning target systems seize up, loud speakers occasionally go silent and electrical systems short-out from time to time.

I’ve heard one NRA volunteer make the statement, “The paint is about the only thing holding the benches together.”  And from my experience there it appears to be an accurate observation.

The neglect is so obvious it screams at you. But the issue of why this equipment has been neglected for so many years is a topic for another discussion at a different time. 

I want to be very clear; I did not attend the shooters’ meeting at the Nationals. Although, I attempted to attend, I couldn’t find it. It’s on Friday evening in an unpublished location within the confines of Camp Perry. I remember talking with scores of people who wanted to attend but couldn’t find their way there as well.
I had the opportunity to speak with several of the fifteen attendees, and their recollections were quite different than the one presented above. Their description of how events unfolded seemed to turn quite dark when the issue of electronic targets unfolded. Their take on it was, it became a dictatorial meeting when this subject was brought up.

One attendee described the overall tone of the meeting by saying, “It got ugly, real fast. Obviously, they were telling us what to expect next year, and they didn’t care one whit what we thought about it.”
My fear now is the NRA’s Competitive Shooting Division apparent decision to use the tactic of Political Speak to further their goals.

Guys, shame on you. There is no adult reason to artificially change the narrative. Just about everyone there perceived this moment so differently than what was portrayed in Shooting Sports USA.
Noam Chomsky, in his book Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media, stated, “…you have to control what people think. And the standard way to do this is to resort to what in more honest days used to be called propaganda. Manufacture of consent. “

I like to think that the vast majority of competitors who participate at Camp Perry grasp the need for change.  Not only can they see the waste this match generates by its archaic operations, but they too endure its negative effects. And let’s not forget the vast sums of money, time and labor that are squandered there.
But the bottom line is—shooters don’t need to be manipulated. They don’t need to be herded around like cattle. And if anything, the participants of this sport don’t need to be labeled as an obstacle to the desires of only a handful of people working in a vacuum.

I actually believe most shooters recognize there’s a need for change within the sport. Good Lord who wants to participate in a sport where we could all make the claim by saying, “that’s what we used to do!”
Obviously the NRA has no current desire to reach out to us.  ... Maybe we should reach out to them.

Because they can’t do it without us or at the very least not very well.

I’m forecasting with the way things are being managed now the NRA’s new electronic target initiative will be a failure. It’s been conceived in an environment that’s cloistered, political and at the very least misleading.
And it’s potentially a failure that’ll be borne on our backs.

From most of the feedback I’ve gotten on this issue, many of my peers want to investigate these proposed changes. They’re NOT opposed to change. They just want to know what the vision is before they sign on.
What they want is a place at the table to be able to review the potential pitfalls or alternatives. But most of all, maintain the sport where it would be recognizable by its current participants. If we all wanted to shoot International we’d be doing it right now.

It comes down to two things: Will we have leadership or will we be managed?

Currently we’re being managed and our future looks bleak due to it.

Leadership requires vision, time, work and consensus building.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Four Cool Things (You Just Gotta Have) I Found at Perry

Many of us are still living in the afterglow of the nationals. While I was there, I ran into a few new cool items.  I simply thought y’all would like to see or know more about them.

Having had great weather at Perry and a little bit of time to meander around, I ran into Wes Fleming. For a little over three years Wes has been crafting one of the most well throughout cart systems I’ve ever seen. He calls it the Perry Pistol Chariot. I was so impressed, I immediately peeled off the cash to snag one for myself.

For years I struggled with a collapsible plastic Ahoy dock cart. True, quite a few bullseye shooters use them but I don't believe they’re currently in production. The Ahoy cart had some drawbacks, most noticeably was its quality or lack thereof. I bent the aluminum axle on mine two years ago and it’s been limping along ever since. 

Wes’ cart is made of tubular steel with a beautiful powder coat finish. Believe me, this photograph doesn’t do it justice. Mine’s painted forest metallic green with black canvas. They can be ordered in a variety of standard and metallic colors. And a few different colors are available for the canvass as well, allowing you to mix and match.
Incorporated into the cart is a seat with supporting back strap. And the seat includes several large pockets; enough for holding raingear, ammo boxes, glass cases, and just about everything else you’d want to take to the line.

Thought was given so that you could attach up to 9 backers, an ample size gun box and brass catcher. Unlike other carts, you mount all your necessaries to it, take it to the line—and instead of having an empty cart getting in your way—you use it as a chair.   
It’s incredibly well made and Wes didn’t scrimp during development. He even installed ball bearing wheels. It’s not only practical and well crafted but it’s just down right pretty.

A somewhat common item I ran across really wasn’t so common. I had the opportunity to look at improvements that’s been made to traditional trigger shoes.
Generally the idea of having a shoe is to spread out the trigger’s pull weight across a large surface area. In the process, the trigger feels lighter.

Nothing new there, right?

Well, for those of you who might know Adam Sokolowski, his dad Frank Sr., makes a pretty darn cool trigger shoe. It’s extremely wide. He’s somewhat followed a similar concept that Callaway Golf brought to their clients over 20 years ago: A massively wide surface area to increase the sweet-spot (for a trigger).  

Currently there are several shoes being made, that range in width from 15/32 inch to as wide as 17/32. And there is availability with one having an offset, for those of us with shorter fingers.
Crafted from aluminum bronze alloy for lubricity, they easily provide the uncanny ability of making that 3 & ½ pound trigger feel oh so lite.   

Actually, Shooting Sports USA did a splendid piece on Frank and his shoes this past March.
I’ve installed them on some of my guns. One of the strange things that I noticed is the ability to accurately pull the trigger much faster. Actually at one point a friend and I were trying to pull the trigger faster and faster, until we could disturb the sights.

Ya know, that took a lot of work. It was extremely difficult to move the sights out of alignment during the follow through. We were both stunned at how much effort—or reckless effort depending on your point of view—that was required to force a jerked shot.
For those of you who have used trigger shoes in the past, consider checking out this product line.

Another item that struck me as a really cool improvement was Chambers Custom Pistols new proprietary 22 conversion unit. And yes, its design is unique to Chambers Custom.

CCP steel 22 conversion unit 
I have an aluminum Marvel upper that I purchased last year at Perry. It’s incredibly accurate. At the time I felt compelled to pay the extra money and get one with the uber super small test target (.397 inch).
Granted it’s accurate but at times it can be somewhat troublesome from a reliability standpoint. And since it doesn’t weigh the same as a traditional 1911, it can leap around quite a bit during sustained fire.
Joe’s upper is all steel and weighs about the same as a wadgun, give or take 2 ounces. And it has a unique mounting system for an Aimpoint scope that was well thought out and exclusive to this upper.

I had a chance to shoot it at the practice range at Perry and was stunned with its performance.  It didn’t have any hiccups with cycling. And it appeared to maintain the sight picture with only slight movement during recoil.

The gun reminded me of a glistening jewel with its piano type finish. (Note the refection of clouds on its frame and slide.)

I’ll probably do a separate write-up on this gun in the near future.
And last but not least, there was a pile of KC Crawford and Alex Brong’s roll trigger kits that were installed for a huge number of shooters' 1911s during the nationals. Presently they’re available from Competition Trigger Components.

I’ve written about them in the past. Almost a year ago Alex asked me to be one of his lab rats to help beta test this product.
CMP compliant kit
If you’re a roll trigger aficionado, this thing was designed for you. It’s a drop in kit.  Easy peezy to install. Since the kit comprises of a hammer, sear, disconnector and installed strut—you really don’t have to do more than disassemble, and then install. There’s no need to beat out the old strut pin, or for that matter, beat a new one in and peen it—because it’s already been done.

And the mating surfaces have been prepped for immediate use.
They’re available in the exclusive Battleaxe profile or the new CMP compliant hardball configuration.

If you’re looking for a very good long lasting and smooth roll trigger, especially if you’d like it in more than one gun, then get more information from the Dynamic Duo.

Contact info for the following:

Wes Fleming's email: or

Chambers Custom:

Frank Sokolowski Sr.'s email: 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

A New Beginning for Camp Perry: Electronic Targets

I’m back from Camp Perry and exhausted.

If you’re looking for breaking news, this isn’t the place. But I’ll try and apprise those of you who didn’t attend of some interesting happenings.

As you might be able to tell I’m biased about the nationals and as well its venue. A lot of shooting history has occurred over the past century at Camp Perry. Some of those events were life changing for many participants, and as well, the general bullseye shooting community.
If you haven’t heard yet (which I’m certain many of you have either on the Bullseye-L or Facebook), the NRA’s Competitions Division has for the past two years toyed with the idea of introducing electronic targets at the national matches.  Last Friday at Camp Perry, the Pistol Department informed us during the shooters’ meeting, that shooters should expect to compete on these devices in 2015.
Well, this bombshell created an almost mob like reaction.  I can’t recall anyone being happy about it.

Although, there were some people in attendance who recognized the glaring reality and necessity for change.

Let me take a step back. While I was at Perry, it dawned on me that I was shooting on almost identical conditions as would Harry Reeves, Bill Blankenship and Don Hamilton—oh so long ago. The range, its setup, and of course the outdoor elements haven’t really changed much for close to 60 years. It’s pretty much in the same condition as before I was born.
The turning target system is close to 45 years old. Who even knows if any of its original parts survive to this day?
Although, there have been some changes over the years with scoring and award tabulations due to modern software; thereby saving enormous amounts of time and money. But basically field operations haven’t changed much over the decades. There are tower talkers, RSOs, block officers and referees. Not to mention there’s their support such as target pasters, delivery crews, finance workers and statistical staff. It takes a small army of people to run this match. But then again, it’s the nationals.     

And let’s not forget the CMP and NRA don’t get a free ride when it comes to the facilities. They lease portions of Camp Perry from the Ohio National Guard.   
Basically, the NRA is financially up against it. The matches are functioning as though it’s the mid-20th century. For the sake of survivability they’re compelled to make changes. I’ve been told many times the nationals are a huge loss-leader whereby the Association expenses several dollars for every one taken in.

So, during last Friday’s shooters meeting we were told what to expect next year. The NRA’s rollout and delivery was both ham-handed and amateurish.
Electronic targets are a double edged sword. A lot of existing problems can be solved with them. And I want to be clear I’m not opposed to change.

Apparently the entire match can be run on a total of 150 modern electronic stations. And as well all the matches including team events could be accomplished in two and a half days; leaving time available for the newly created Metallic and Production events.
I had an opportunity to fire on these new targets. MEGAlink, the presumed provider, brought out their pistol targets to the practice range. And they invited everyone attending the nationals to give it a try.

Unfortunately, I was sorely disappointed. 
I was given a brief tour of the system by a MEGAlink representative before firing. The display monitor located at the bench looked handy and appeared to have adequate resolution. Shots fired are displayed in real time, so there’s no longer a need for a spotting scope. Scoring and reporting is done real time as well, thus avoiding incorrect scores.

What I was faced with was a large metal frame with an appropriate sized hole (bullseye) in it. My mission was to fire into this hole closest to its center as possible. I didn’t do well with this setup. I’ve been trained to look at the target and concentrate on the X, which along with scoring rings don’t exist. It feels like shooting into a black bucket.
The target frame has a set of lights, one green and the other red. They were to be my cue when to fire and cease fire. Unfortunately when you come up on the target with an optical sight you can’t see the lights, they’re outside the viewing area of the tube.  

I was informed that in the future fire commands will start with a loud audible tone and another for crease firing.
Obviously these targets don’t turn. And we can talk about all kinds of rules problems with just this one issue. After using the targets I then chatted with other competitors; they’re expecting all kinds of unknown rule changes before anyone uses these things in a registered match.

But the thing that irked me the most was having to shoot on a 25 meter International rapid fire target at 25 yards. Neither the NRA nor the reps from MEGAlink even bothered to craft a bullseye monitor target for their rollout at the nationals.

The staff at competitive shooting in VA didn’t think this one through or do their homework. Apparently they didn’t attempt any real due diligence or beta testing—and it showed.

It appears as though they had a plan, crafted about 15% of it, and then forgot to work out the other 85%.  I get it. They want to save money through financial capitalization, and there’s nothing inherently wrong with that.

I’ve written about electronic targets almost two years ago. Briefly the NRA had a small roadshow that went to a few clubs across the country.  I’m currently under the impression they didn’t forget to ask questions during the demonstrations, but simply avoided or forgot any useful ones.
What we’re faced with in the near future is a two-tiered system for the sport. Electronic targets at the nationals and traditional paper target matches at almost all local events. And keep in mind, the rules will be different at the nationals with possibly using traditional rules at local matches.

So, the situation begs the question: How do you train for the nationals?
It can only be one of two answers. The first, you don’t. The second, purchase a MEGAlink system.

I’m fairly certain most shooters will not invest in an electronic system so that they may participate in one or possibly two matches a year.
As to the latter option, I’m certain there’ll be a handful of people out there who will buy one of these things, aside from the AMU.

To put it mildly, the rollout of this new target system was a disaster. And it was clearly a disaster the first second they powered it up.
To be fair, one has to grasp the problems facing the NRA. There are excessive costs operating this match.  Running a mid-20th century retro match has its fair share of logistical nightmares and burdens. Heck, by implementing this new target system the reduction in staffing to operate this event could possibly be significant.

And some ongoing problems with scoring, tabulating and dare I say cheating, could be completely eliminated.
The overt resistance the NRA received last Friday is indicative of a few things. One of which is the Association didn’t really have a plan to take us to electronic targets and scoring.  There was no real vision, no steps to inform us, no extensive trials so feedback could be elicited. To the best of my knowledge no one sought out any real broad-based input, except from a handful of insiders. 

My greatest fear is the national matches becoming a shadow of its former self. Due to competitors not being able to train for it.

The bottom-line is there’s no real leadership at the Competitions Shooting Division. We’re left adrift to our own devises, where the captain of the vessel didn’t even bother pick up a map before leaving port.   
Do I think the NRA can overcome these problems?

Can the national matches become both better and more efficient by the introduction of modern technology?

But the NRA will need the assistance of those same people they autocratically addressed last Friday.   

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Two Week Hiatus

Friends, I’ll be on break for the next two weeks. Please don’t expect to see a post or at least one with any real substance. Basically I’ll be attending the nationals.
For those of you who are not attending, I’ll attempt to provide some degree of news about events that had occurred there upon my return.

None the less, I believe the pilgrimage to Camp Perry is not only an enlightening experience but one that must be experienced firsthand.
On a final note, for the past four years I’ve intentionally avoided reporting from Camp Perry; it’s just too much of a commitment.  I attend for the same reasons everyone else does, and with limited time, the process of trying to craft posts that are both informative and entertaining is simply beyond me. There’s too much to do there. In an ideal world we’d all be there and share the experience together.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Camp Perry 2014

Every year I try to encourage all bullseye shooters to attend the nationals at Camp Perry.


Well, for several reasons.
All matches that you want to survive require support. The national is no different than the match down the street sponsored by your local club.

By attending you are indirectly supporting the broader state of the sport. Let’s face it, bullseye has had declining participation for the past 25 years. And even the NRA needs an occasional wakeup call to remind them we are still relevant.
But the most important item is its uniqueness. In the past I’ve used worn out clich├ęs such as, “it’s a shooter’s theme park, a tailgate party for gunnies 800 strong, and Perry’s Big Top Revival Meeting.” Regardless how feeble or marginally accurate these descriptions are, it’s still an enlightening pilgrimage that one must experience firsthand to truly appreciate.

The firing line
When I sit down at the keyboard and attempt to write about this annual event I become tongue tied.  I don’t believe I’m sufficiently skilled to properly express what most of our other friends, happily and without question, encounter there.

In the past as I watched things play out I’m reminded it’s the shared experience itself that humbles me. And it’s incredibly difficult to accurately depict the collective reverence and solemn adherence to tradition that so many fine people have attached to these matches.
Possibly a better way for me to express what happens there can be summed up as it’s a ‘cult form of camaraderie.’  Thank heaven it’s a benevolent cult.

Within those two or three weeks before the start of the matches, I feel like a middle-schooler who’s been anticipating summer recess for the past two months.
Even the drive out from my home in South Central Pennsylvania captivates me. Because I know what’s awaiting me upon my arrival in Port Clinton.

I’ll get up early on Monday—and hit the road. I’ve assumed the six and a half hour drive will actually morph into an eight hour experience. And it doesn’t help that I really like to take the scenic route.
I’ll transverse parts of the Susquehanna Valley and marvel at the stubble of freshly cut spring wheat, which glistens like a sparkling gold blanket across open rolling farmland. And along the way I’ll notice early summer thistle speckled in clumps of periwinkle and milkweed plants, swaying in the gentle morning breeze, enticing the local monarch population.

After an hour of driving through bottomland I eventually make my way up the foothills of the Allegheny Mountains. The view changes dramatically at the steep escarpment known as the Allegheny Front. Visible are shafts of light poking through the high forest canopy where the sunshine rains sporadically on the leaves of mountain laurel, their sunny highlights flickering in a sea of dark olive green.
All the while I’m surprised by local radio programing. As the mileage increases, stations along the way reflect the desires and cultures of their communities: Traditional pop and hard rock in the valleys, bluegrass and country in the higher elevations.

When I near State College, PA, I’m reminded that I’ll need to drive for another two and a half hours across the Allegheny Plateau. The mountain scenery shifts quickly with rare visual hints of small rural towns tucked away on the occasional river bottom or natural massive outcrop. When viewing a few from higher elevations, it reminds me of a time when things were smaller, simpler and where the concept of community is casually expected of everyone.
After a stop or two with a lunch break thrown in for good measure, I’ll eventually start the quick descent into the Ohio Valley.  It’s where the East ends and the Midwest begins, both geographically and culturally.

Myself, Jim Henderson and Dan Pauley on the award stage

There are times when I’ve traveled west into Ohio and my mind played a few tricks on me.  After cresting the last foothill of the western edge of the range, I’m visually slammed into thinking about what’s before me: A vast open ocean of farmland, as far as the eye can see, with my mind barely being able to interpret this massive imagery.
When you arrive several things will happen.

There is fellowship with likeminded people. Friendships are made and old acquaintances are reestablished. People become bonded by a common and shared experience. And there’s a reverence of tradition that’s almost 100 years old that becomes collectively reborn every year.     
Then ya get to shoot…

For those of you who have never attended, plan on joining us next year. For seven years I’ve tried to encourage just about anyone breathing to attend the nationals. It’s special. It’s unique. And it’s reserved solely for us.

You don't want to miss this.


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Update on the Ammo Shortage

The end of 2013 was hard for competitive shooters.  .22 ammo and for that matter reloading components, were extremely difficult to find.

Much of the shortage was fueled by fear (which translated into hoarding), political manipulation, and by the prodding of handwringing social engineers. The byproduct of this fiasco was a train wreck the likes most of us have never seen. And it clearly had an impact on match participation and reduced training.
If you could find ammo, sales were limited to internet gougers, generous friend down the street or the occasional trickle that somehow meandered onto a local retailer’s store shelf.  If you could find a brick of .22 ammo, it was valued as if it were laced with depleted uranium.     
Over the past year many of us cautiously dipped into our reserves.

Recently I made a brief stop at a local retailer, and was stunned to find out that they had product on the shelf. A lot of product. Almost all of it, we wouldn’t even look at. They had 9mm, .40, .357—all the typical defensive calibers.
So my first impression was a stunned form of disbelief. Let’s face it, most of us buy online or by some other type of long distance purchase.
Fortunately, signs the ammo drought is ending are starting to show. And I can’t think of anyone who wants to return to “out of stock” labels as far as the eye can see—and its related price tag.
So there’s light at the end of the tunnel?

Well, not so fast.
Today brass, primers and other reloading components are a little more available—but .22 ammo really isn’t. 
I called around last week to two manufactures: Winchester and Federal. They we kind enough to give me their “corporate line,” canned as it may be. It shed some light on our future purchasing habits.
If we’re looking for a return to normalcy, it’s not going to be for some time.

The rep at Winchester told me if demand returned to 2011 levels, it would take them about two to three years to catch up on back orders. But at the current demand rate, it may take up to five or six years to return to the same availability that we enjoyed in pre-panic times.
Federal gave me about the same time frame for their supply estimates.
The biggest problem is manufactures are under the impression the current state of the market is a bubble. And as such they aren’t inclined to spend giant piles of money for grater capacity. In a broad sense I don’t blame them. Who in their right mind would want huge amounts of capital sitting idle two or three years from now?
The rep at Federal mentioned they’re considering substantial price increases, as an economic tool to reduce demand (i.e. elasticity). That’s right, they’re going to crank up the pricing (and you thought it was high now). It’ll all be a straight supply and demand play. And it may be quite a few years before market pricing resembles anything that equates to what you or I might label a fair price.
It might be idyllic to think we'll never see another ammo shortage. At least not in the near future. But it would be profoundly foolish to think like that. All it takes are some headline grabbing sound-bites from the mainstream media about a weird or morbid public event; an event or circumstance that can never be anticipated or controlled. Then we’ll be back where we started.
Over the past few years, the general shooting public might have walked into a gun store and simply purchased a few boxes, not bricks, of .22 ammo. You know, just enough to get them through a shooting session or two.
Due to the extreme nature of the current shortage, even they have been coached by friends to purchase by the case; something that would have never happened in the past. In earlier times they considered local retailers to be their convenient inventory or warehouse.

When the market fell apart, the deck was shuffled. It comes down to self-reliance. In good times or bad, my advice is to always have a multi-year inventory.