Friday, April 11, 2014

Op Ed: New Rules and New Shooters?

Over the years, typically annually, I’ve offered my two-cents about the current situation with a declining bullseye membership.

I’m one of those guys who lurks on the Bullseye-L, pours over other websites, and because of that, one thing generally rises to the top. It’s my concern of a dwindling membership of conventional pistol shooters.
I’ve seen this play out locally. I’m fortunate enough to live well within one of the largest bullseye communities in the country: South-central Pennsylvania. Adjacent states such as Ohio, New Jersey, New York, Virginia and West Virginia are the Mid-Atlantic’s epicenter for conventional pistol.

Camp Perry 1926

Unfortunately declining participation doesn’t appear to be letting up.
Forty years ago or so, we were just about the only game in town.  If you and your friends wanted to do competitive pistol shooting back-in-the-day, you’d almost be forced into contact with our kind.
In the ‘70s and before, there might have been the very faint beginnings of six-gun fast draw or the practical disciplines. At that time they were pretty much under the radar. Cowboy action or three-gun events weren’t even thought of.  In years past articles about our sport would have dominated the old American Rifleman magazine. Today we’re relegated to a digital magazine with dubious distribution.
The reality is, today we have competition from a vast assortment of shooting sports.  And for whatever reason, we’ve been left adrift without leadership to even modestly promote our own sport.

It’s a sad commentary for a sport that has such a rich history and enormous living talent.
My local club’s outdoor bullseye range is a little over 200 feet wide with 60 covered stations. That’s right, 60 stations! Originally it was built without a roof and fewer stations in the late ‘40s. It routinely saw substantial improvements over the next 30 years, to deal with the utilization demands local bullseye shooters placed upon it.

This range, as it sits today, is a legacy of a golden but bygone era.  Few facilities modern or timeworn generally can’t compete with its vastness or dedicated buildings. It was created from a vision by likeminded people at a much earlier time.
Sadly, there was a time many years ago when two relays a day would utilize the range for a full 2700 match. 100 to 120 bullseye shooters would descend on the club’s property on a typical summer day—after a dozen or so would be turned away due to space limitations. Today, that type of participation is reserved for only two or three other venues in the country, possibly once a year.

At the height of the Cold War, in the 1950s and 60s, the DOD found it worthwhile to promote all types of shootings sports. The federal government didn’t want the Soviet Empire to run away with the Olympics or world championships. And they didn’t want to lose any of the high level international prestige that might be bestowed from such events.
Unfortunately we’re structurally stuck, in some respects, within the same limitations imposed upon us from nearly 60 years ago.

Back then, little more than a third of the world’s population was under communist rule. The era of substantial US government sponsorship with shooting sports is now long behind us much like perestroika, glasnost and détente. Those old geopolitical threats to the West have long been settled. This was the period when Don Hamilton, Bill Blankenship and Jim Clark, Sr. shined with all their well-deserved glory.
In the current post-Regan era, we no longer have any real government support. But those restrictions placed upon us from the Cold War are still in play, especially at locations such as Camp Perry.  

Clearly some of this dilemma is beyond our ability to do anything about. Times change. But one big handicap we appear to have is tunnel-vision.
We’ve managed this sport for the better part of a century and its leadership has grown complacent. If not complacent, they’re stuck in a multi-decade rut.

The basic problems are that we don’t recruit and the leadership at the NRA wants to do things the same old way. There is no real money being spent by our sponsoring organization to promote us, let alone have the world know that we even exist.
I give credit to the NRA. Their recent rule change to allow for new and different classes to participate appears to be a good start. It’s their attempt at recruiting new shooters. But they should have had a marketing program—in the hopper, ready to go—long before they rolled this one out to all of us in the middle of the night.   

I could be wrong but it appears they didn’t have a plan. Their mindset was probably something like: we’ll tinker with the rules and let the locals figure out everything else. In other words, after sampling a dozen or so people, found an appropriate path but didn’t craft the necessary beginning or end. And I have yet to see anything resembling an established benchmark to determine success or failure.  
Let’s throw it on the wall and hope it sticks.

The NRA has vast resources. Good Lord, how many NRA banquets do you or I need to attend? Money they have. And they also have an army of marketing/branding people, copywriters, graphic artists, in-house bloggers, webmasters, videographers and a flippin’ cable show.
It’s begs the question why weren’t any of these people rounded up and brought into the process of a rule change to gather new shooters?   

Let’s face it, part of the problems listed above rest squarely on our shoulders.
How so?

Since we participate in a well-established sport many of us are guilty of expecting things to be the same, day after day. It’s human nature. Some might even refer to it as a “sense of normalcy.”   We all like to participate because it’s fun. And I’m all for the fun part of things.
But we rarely ask or demand anything from the NRA. And we take them for granted, assuming all will be right in the world if we never make direct contact with them.

When I pick up the phone and call the Competitions Division, they act as though they’re the bastard step-child within the Association. I routinely hear about budget cuts, and at the same time, hear about vast sums of money being applied to other national pistol shooting events; events with very low participation compared to ours.
If I hear another statement at the nationals from an NRA staffer saying, “That’s how we do things at the Bianchi Cup,” I think my eyes are gonna explode right from their sockets.

It’s easy to throw rocks and that’s not my intent here. But as a group of people bonded by a similar interest, we don’t need to take a backseat to other lower participating disciplines.
The bottom line is we’re passive.

When the NRA asks for money (which some telemarketer will certainly do) inquire how those funds are going to be spent. Will it go to competitive shooting? When you arrive at the next NRA banquet, use the same tactic there. Everyone does, except you and me.
It’s alright to pick up the phone and let someone know at the NRA you want more capital applied to the sport. A phone call to Dennis Willing or Kayne Robinson isn’t going to hurt anyone. And while you’re at it, remind them they have plenty of in-house resources.

Take the time and go to the shooters meeting at Camp Perry and express your concerns. Or when you need to phone the stat people in VA, politely let them know you’re not happy with their limited attempts at recruiting or lack of marketing.
We haven’t communicated our desires to the leadership, nor have we expected much out of them.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Repost: Are We There Yet?

I don’t normally repost. People generally expect fresh content. But since its April Fool’s Day, I though a little levity would come in handy today.

Every once in awhile, I ponder over what makes a BE shooter a BE shooter. Generally there’re similarities with personality traits. From a practical perspective, people have a tendency to flock to their own or like kind, which makes the basis for a clique.

During my time spent with BE shooters, I’ve found the typical clichés and adjectives used to describe them to be generally correct; words such as, inclusive, generous, friendly, encouraging, helpful and welcoming appear to ring true. Better yet, let’s call them members of a benevolent clique.

When I first came into contact with BE people five or six years ago, I was stunned at how gracious they all were. But let’s face it, after shooting for awhile, we all know of a BE shooter or two who is more of a match competitor than the rest of us. He’s the guy who can consistently outscore most people in his class, brings a steely cool form of enlightenment to the line, uses the best equipment, and if there were a match scheduled on Christmas Day—he’d show up for it and shoot the darn thing.

Taken in perspective there’s quite a broad spectrum of shooters. There are the newbies who are ever hopeful about a progressing future, and there are the mega-masters snagging all the accolades as soon as they arrive on the line.

In what category do you fall into?

Take the enlightening quiz below and add up your score. Then match your gross score to find the appropriate personality profile that should correspond to your current skill level.

1. How many phone numbers of gunsmiths are stored in your cell phone? Give yourself 3 points for each one.

2. Do you have a vanity license plate on your car that’s bullseye related such as: 100-10x, 10x, CLEANED IT or anything else (even if it’s cryptic) only another BE shooter would recognize? If you do, then give yourself 15 points.

If you don’t own a vanity plate but know of someone who does, comp yourself 3 points.

4. Have you ever resided in a hut at Camp Perry? Add 1 point to your score for having stayed on base. And if you’ve experienced moving water across the floor of your hut where some of your gear was moved due to its turbulent volume, add 3 additional points. [Clarification: Being exposed to an excessive amount of mold or having an interior wasp’s nest does not garner additional points.]

5. Do you know the meaning of the Spousal Excise Tax, as listed under Code Section 42.1(b)? Give yourself 1 point for having the required and necessary general compliance knowledge, and an additional 1 point is awarded for each time you’ve actually paid the tax.

Double your points for this section if you’ve avoided the tax by having paid cash for a pistol so it wouldn’t show up on your checking account or credit card statement.

6. Do you own more than one gun safe? Award yourself 2 points for the second and 4 additional points for each subsequent safe.

7. During a match, have you ever had an alibi then became extremely anxious, and then forgot to put all five rounds in the alibi mag? That gets you 2 points.

8. Do you have prescription shooting glasses? A ½ point is awarded to those that do, and 10 more points for those same shooters that had them made with a vermilion tint.

9. How often do you clean your rimfire pistol? After every use, give yourself 2 points. After every 500 rounds, give yourself 5 points. If you only clean it after there’s a loading or function problem, then give yourself 10 points. And last but not least, if you only occasionally brush the bolt face and breach, then possibly several times a year carve out the carbon with a nylon dental pick followed by a light oiling … give yourself 17 points.

10. If I had to shoot a pistol just for fun I’d: A) pick up an air pistol, for 1 point or; B) shoot a real man’s gun, a 1911A1 for 3 points or; C) gracefully wield a .32 center fire euro “fifi” pistol so I could feel more in tuned with the global warming crowd, for 5 points or; D) snag a S&W 500 and shoot it accurately off-hand to simply wig-out the rest of my club’s members who just happen to be on the line with me, for 9 points.

11. Do you own a pet that’s named after a shooting term? Yes, does your loving companion Bullet, Jag, Report or Magnum (or any other names I haven’t yet heard of) have their own bed near the laundry room? If so, 7 points are yours.

Let’s see how well you stack up against your peers.

Newbie: A score from 0 to 14 indicates, in your heart, you still feel the thrill of being a new shooter. You’re prepared to work hard regardless of the hurdles and challenges that abound around you. But most of all, more seasoned shooters have yet had the courage to tell you that to obtain true progress in the sport, an appointment will soon need to be made with your local loan officer.

And over the past year you’ve learned a lot and may have had the epiphany, “I learned how much I don’t know.”

Progressing Shooter: Scores ranging from 15 to 45 demonstrates you’re an advancing shooter determined to go places. You’ve learned to routinely apply the fundamentals but there’s a potential lack of commonality between you and your significant other.

As a shooter on the move you might ask your wife or girlfriend to purchase you a gun related gift (such as a chronograph or reloading equipment) during the yearend holidays, under the assumption there won’t be any grief since it’ll be “her idea.” Unfortunately they’re eventually lost, calling half your friends trying to figure out what the heck that “do-hicky” was you were talking about.

And as to the mental game, you start to tell your fellow shooters, “I’m not smart enough to shoot badly” or “I’ve been disqualified from joining MENSA.”

Mega-Master: Having a score that ranges above 46 validates your position as an ol’salt. You routinely and methodically manage the mental nuances of the game. At match time, you score big. You can deliver a 10 on the line as naturally as walking up a flight of stairs or tapping your feet to a Taylor Swift pop tune.

Unfortunately, during the workday you have a tendency to compulsively scan the Bullseye-L several times everyday, dream of dry-firing in your sleep and trickle out your long-line loads for matches. Whether you know it or not, long ago you transformed into the Zen master of pistol shooting that many of us strive for.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Al's World Cup Experience

I wanted to take a minute and make note of fellow blogger and old friend, Al Harding. As a citizen of Canada, Al’s been pursuing his Olympic dreams for several years. And he’s gotten some impressive results.  
Listed below is a partial screen shot from Al’s most recent blog post, where he talks about wadin’ in the pool with the big dogs, on the international scene. Currently he’s at Fort Benning participating in this year’s World Cup.

If you’d like to see how Al and his fellow competitors are doing, use the links provided below.

And as well, some of our bullseye friends are participating there.  Jason Turner, John Zurek and Jim Henderson will start off on April 1st for the 50M (Free) Pistol event.

Good Luck, gentlemen.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

High Standard

Some years ago when I first entered the sport, a new acquaintance graciously handed me a High Standard Trophy with fluted barrel, and immediately began giving me starter lessons on how to shoot bullseye.

I marveled at this pistol. I’d never seen anything like it. It was heavy, looked like a Star Trek prop, and had at that time what I thought was a hair trigger. But this wasn’t my first exposure to High Standard.
Almost thirty years earlier, my best friend’s father owned a High Standard Sport King with a 4” barrel.  With its canted grip the pistol reminded me of a Luger P-08. My friend Todd and I would take it outback and setup Coke bottles (the old green recyclable deals) and commence to shootin’ at ‘em.  At twenty five or so yards it didn’t make for a very difficult target; so we decided to not shoot the body of the bottles, we would attempt to shoot off the necks. Ya know, just to make things interesting.  

Then in the late 1970s, I stumbled onto a HS Sentinel revolver in .22 mag. and immediately purchased it. It’s a gun I still own.  It’s all steel with a massive serrated front ramp sight. And it was produced at a time when attention to finish detail was considered extremely important in the gun industry.
The High Standard Company was founded in Connecticut in 1926 as a supplier of deep hole drills, specialty machines and industrial tools to numerous firearms companies in the Connecticut Valley. In 1932, the company, headed by Swedish immigrant Carl Gustav Swebilius, purchased the Hartford Arms and Equipment Company and began making .22 caliber pistols.

Starting with their Model A and Model B designs in the 1930s, they offered their new semi-autos to the public at extremely low prices, which made them stand out in the Depression era. In 1940 with some early financial successes, they moved forward with what was to become their most popular model for the next twenty years, the Model HD.
When a person picked up an HD for the first time, its striking at how solid and beefy it is for a “budget .22”; which is exactly how engineer George Wilson intended it. Introduced in 1940 when High Standard gun makers were not afraid of machining steel, their handgun tipped the scale at 40 ounces. A blowback single action pistol with a canted style grip and exposed hammer, the gun was simple and accurate. Built around a one-piece frame with a short slide and pinned barrel, meant it was not only rugged but beefy too.

With either a 4.5-inch or a 6.75 inch barrel, the pistol pointed naturally and emulated the feel of a full size pistol with little recoil from its 22 LR round. This enabled the gun to remain on target with little muzzle rise. And in the process became a direct competitor to the Colt Woodsman pistol.  In fact, the High Standard quickly became one of the most popular pistols for shooters who wanted a small-bore handgun for plinking or competition.

Powers' High Standard MS .22 LR
 In 1942, the War Department ordered 34,000 Model HDs for the Army to use for basic pistol training. These pistols allowed the military to train hundreds of thousands of servicemen during WW II in basic pistol skills without the massive expense of using center-fire ammunition. The large frame HD had much the same feel, operation, and sights of the Colt 1911. During WWII, the company also produced thousands of .50 caliber machine guns and machine gun parts in addition to various pistols for the military.

As a side note to the WWII years, the OSS (precursor to the CIA) ordered a special run of guns from High Standard. From about October 1943 to March 1944 just over 2600 HDs were made with suppressors for clandestine use.  Known as the Military Silent (MS), these guns used a suppressor designed by Bell Laboratories that drastically attenuated the sound levels of this .22 LR pistol. Delivered to the War Department they were shipped overseas for immediate use. Today a handful  exist in private collections and museums. It’s been speculated that as many as 400 of these are still in CIA and DOD inventories.
During the1960 U-2 incident involving Francis Gary Powers, the Soviets publicly displayed his issued MS pistol prior to his espionage trial in Moscow. Premier Nikita Khrushchev took great political delight by prominently and publicly displaying it as standard US “spy equipment.”
By the 1950s, the High Standard .22 pistols were the gun of choice for NRA pistol competitions. In 1952, Sgt. Joe Benner of the US Army won the Gold Medal in the Olympic Rapid Fire event using a High Standard pistol. Then later in 1960, Colonel William McMillan of the US Marine Corps won the Gold Medal in the Olympic Rapid Fire event using a High Standard pistol. These are the only Gold Medals won using an American-made firearm in these events.
After WWII, High Standard kept the basic HD in production for a decade and had good commercial sales with it. In 1955, production of the HD ceased and it was replaced by the very similar Olympic series, which in turn was itself replaced by the Victor.

High Standard categorized their various models by letter names (Model A-D), lever name models (Supermatic), the 100, 101, 102, 103, 104, 106, 107 series models, and the EH and SH (Victor) series which was the final design produced by High Standard.
In 1968, the company was purchased by the Leisure Group. Leadership at the company wanted to grow a conglomerate, and at the time, High Standard appeared to fit the bill within their strategic plan. By 1975 several management changes in production techniques compelled the company to relocate to a leased facility at East Hartford in 1976.

The first gun shipped from East Hartford was on June 16th, 1977 and it was a Victor, serial number EH0001.
This is about the time when modern urban legend dictates the quality of High Standard pistols started to decline. And that decline supposedly continued until they ceased operations.

In December 1984, the company’s assets were auctioned off. Gordon Elliott their National Parts Distributor, purchased the .22 target pistols, the Crusader line, and High Standard’s name and trademarks.
For a period of over 50 years, High Standard participated in Bullseye’s golden age probably more so than any other gun manufacturer.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

A Little Inwards

The Dunning–Kruger effect is a cognitive bias in which unskilled individuals suffer from illusory superiority, mistakenly rating their ability much higher than is accurate. This bias is attributed to a metacognitive inability of the unskilled to recognize their ineptitude.  –
It sounds a little harsh but most of us at one time or another has been guilty of it. I’ve been aware of the D-K effect for a very long time. Since I’m in finance, it’s something a practitioner in my field sees every day.

Unfortunately it plays out in our sport by the trainload.

You’d be surprised at the number of fellow shooters who would never part with the most modest amount of money to attend a real shooting clinic. I’ve organized a few, and at times I’ve gotten responses like, “What’s the point? I can get training down the street from my friend Manny, the Master wananbe. Heck, that won’t cost me a dime.”  
Clearly, someone who’s been trained to teach and is vastly more skilled than you or me will have a huge advantage in assisting with someone’s future success.  

Simply telling the new bullseye shooter the game is 90% mental isn’t an insight about how to cognitively or subconsciously train for anything. You need honed skills, mastered techniques and mental grit working in harmony to pull it off.

So let’s take a look at some common mistakes (mostly mental) we bullseye shooters routinely stub our toes on.
1. Your equipment doesn’t know how well or poorly you execute a shot. Really, it doesn’t.

Obviously we all need reliable and accurate equipment that’ll get the job done. But buying that new badass bullseye pistol for $4500 with the super deluxe finish isn’t going to get you more Xs. Your skill level on the line is a balance between your inner-self, applied techniques and your equipment. Forget the new toy and spend more money and time on training.

Can you buy points with really nifty stuff? Probably, but not as many as you might think.

2. Your definition of stamina isn’t directly related to how many donuts you eat at the local 2700 match.

Being at least moderately fit will give you a fighting chance to have an adequate finish. Whoa to those who think a reasonable amount of fitness shouldn’t be a concern with a pursuit like conventional pistol.

We’re not doing 3-gun, are we?  

3. You are unwaveringly certain about things you know very little about.

Doubt can be a good thing. It gives us an opportunity to look back and learn. It allows us to reach out to others for help; hopefully when it’s needed not three years later.

We should avoid practicing alone. The only feedback you get by being out there by yourself is either: no insights whatsoever or stale perspectives that are questionable. Give some thought about training or practicing with others, even if they’re not at the same skill level. It’s okay to ask for input and share ideas.

4. You don't learn vicariously from other people's problems or mistakes.

There’s an old military saying, “Don’t pay for the same real estate twice.” It’s not uncommon for most of us to see errors in others and never question it; we simply accept the occurrence and try not to be judgmental. I’m all good with the non-judgmental thing, but for every significant action there’s a reason why things worked and why they didn’t.

Now you know one of the key reasons why coaches expect us to have notebooks.

5. You spent the last five years arguing why a clean break trigger is better than a roll trigger.

I don’t know which one’s better—because it’s not about the trigger. It’s about lack of investigation. You should question what’s truthfully good for you and take enough effort to investigate those choices whatever they are.  

In this situation it may be your local clan’s collective predispositions. Many times they unintentionally communicate to you about how things are supposed to work.    

6. You associate all of your shooting successes with skill and all of your failures with bad luck.

Yeah, we’re back to that ginchy notebook that most of us don’t have. I’m not suggesting you revel in your failures but they must be inventoried before they’re addressed. You need to know what’s holding you back.
7. You let confirmation bias take control of your mind by only seeking out information from sources that agree with your pre-existing beliefs.

In this situation or any other, an open-mind is far more useful than doing things redundantly within your comfort zone. By doing the same old things the same way, you’re doomed to get the same results. Any change is stressful and doing new things is never easy. If you’re closed-minded, you’re trapped with no new avenue to traverse.

8. I’m doing it all on my own.
You hire a physician to treat you, an accountant to do taxes, a lawyer to manage legal problems, a plumber to fix your pipes and a dentist to fix your teeth. Heck, you wouldn't consider doing any of this differently.   
While having limited experience—with a dash of bravado—you go about teaching yourself a highly skilled art and wonder why it doesn’t play out well. Get a coach or go to a clinic.
9. You can't acknowledge the role luck plays when making the occasional big score.

When it happens, learn to enjoy it. But never, never count on it.

Like many of you I’ve been guilty of all of the above at one time or another. Unfortunately some bad habits have a tendency to stick around much longer than I’d like to admit.
I’m not suggesting you all run out and buy Galbraith’s The Affluent Society, Castaneda’s Journey to Ixtlan or Soho’s The Unfettered Mind. Although, if you’ve never read it, a copy of Lanny Basham’s little pocketbook With Winning in Mind might be a start.

I’m going to give you a brief disclaimer about Lanny’s book. There are lots of good insights. He preps the reader to eagerly embrace change and provides a crude roadmap for getting started. But it’s a little short on techniques. That’s where the businessman in Basham has you coming back for more in-depth materials.  
None the less it’s a start.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Wilson Pistol

Before, during and some years after WWII, George Wilson was one of the pivotal principals at High Standard. A company all of us know through its historic reputation of fashioning fine target pistols over many decades. Their pistols were the guns to have in the 40s, 50s, 60s, and well into the 1970s.

Mr. Wilson started his career with HS as their chief gun assembler immediately after assets were purchased by Carl Swebilius from the defunct High Standard Manufacturing Company, in 1932. This was the beginning of what was to become a glorious legacy for pistol shooters, both military and civilian.  After only a limited amount of time he became one of their primary gun designers. And as the years passed, he embraced bullseye shooting as a competitor.

Near the end of his time at High Standard, George began work on a prototype .45 ACP pistol. He received a patent (applied in 1958) in 1961. Today this gun is commonly referred to as the Wilson Pistol.

Let’s face it, the 1911 was never intended to be a target pistol; JMB envisioned the darn thing to be a battle platform. None the less over the years various smiths such as Shockly, Chow and Clark continued to refine the 1911 platform to perform at its current capabilities through trial and error.
Wilson toyed around with the idea of building a .45 ACP target pistol for years and looked at the work his European peers were creating for Olympic shooters. He wanted a cutting-edge gun that was incredibly accurate, with an extremely low bore-line, a sighting system built into the barrel, and it needed to be far more reliable than the current crop of finicky reworked mil-spec 1911s.

In other words he had a vision, to design a pistol from scratch without the handicaps of JMB’s chassis.

Keep in mind the 1950s were heady times for bullseye shooters. It was our golden age.
George built a thing of beauty with a radical design that didn’t rely on a traditional slide. The top-end used reciprocating parts, thus allowing him to force the bore line well into the web’s hand instead of above it. And in doing so dramatically reduced felt recoil and muzzle rise.    

Basically the gun uses a moving wedge system that locks the barrel in place much like a Walther P38. And the front sight post is almost a clone of the Walther as well. I feel certain he intended to manage muzzle rise dramatically for increased control during sustained fire.

Apparently only three guns of this design were ever produced. There’s little to no record-keeping what these guns were originally intended for. Was it for George’s own personal use as a bullseye shooter, or as a prototype product for High Standard?  So much time has passed we’ll probably never know. Although we do know the patent was issued in his name.

But if one were to inspect any of the three prototypes, they appear to have been crafted with extreme care. The quality of the metal work appears to be exceptional. They look like works of art.
Even by today’s standards these 50 year old guns look futuristic with their flowing lines and non-boxy profile.

One of the three Wilson Guns came to auction in 2009. Unfortunately the strike price wasn’t disclosed.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Tear Down the Frame

Some years ago my friend Ed Masaki gently asked if I knew how to completely take down a 1911. At the time he was kind enough to fit different triggers for me on the same gun. And was concerned if I was skilled enough to actually accomplish the task

Duh! Of course I knew how to do that.

What he later told me, stunned me. He claimed that a large number of bullseye shooters really didn’t how to do that. And on a rare occasion a customer would send back a pile of parts, via overnight carrier, simply to get the pistol reassembled.

I never gave the problem much thought until about a week ago when a casual friend asked me to reassemble his lower-end. Thank heaven all the parts were there. … No one ever showed him how to do it.

Since then I’ve looked around for a decent on-line video that would adequately demonstrate a complete tear down.  And I have to tell ya, it took a lot of digging.  

If you’ve ever been intimidated about taking down a frame, this video will get you started. And as well, has a nifty web page with instructions and videos. []

Friday, January 17, 2014

Update on Hayden’s Gun

Last August I reached out to my readership for help to assist a junior bullseye shooter.  At the time I gave this young man the pseudonym, Hayden.

Finished pistol with prototype Battle Axe hammer 
He’s the victim of bone cancer. And from what I’ve been told his therapy is coming along nicely; titanium inserts and all. The kid’s a trooper. (Click the link to see how things started.)

KC Crawford and my son Alex thought it would be a nice gesture for them to provide Hayden with an incentive to get better.  Since Hayden is a budding bullseye shooter, those two thought having the tools necessary to advance in the sport was the way to go.

Apparently Hayden fancies himself as an Olympic hopeful, so this should play out nicely.
I got involved out of a fear this young man was going to get a Ferrari—without gas or insurance money. You know, look at it in the driveway kid but don’t drive it.

My trepidation was he’d get a great tool to use but it would be permanently idled. I didn’t want the process to devolve into creating something that was little more than an expensive doorstop.  
In other words he needed all the other items necessary to make his new pistol run at matches.

So let me take a step back. For the many fine people who contributed to this project with either goods or cash, allow me to express my sincere thanks. Without your support this project would have never come to fruition.
Some of you I know personally—the vast majority I don’t.  I was genuinely humbled with the generosity of all who contributed so quickly and freely. 

At one point I toyed with the idea of listing the contributors. But after polling the first five, they nixed that idea early in the conversation. They preferred to remain anonymous.  After that, I didn’t bother to poll the others. Although, they all had one thing in common: The desire to make something good happen for someone less fortunate, even when they never knew the identity of the recipient.
I believe that’s The Almighty’s definition of true giving.

So here’s the update. Hayden’s gun is completed, although it needs to have a finish applied. His shooting and reloading items have been assembled and are ready for shipment.


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Follow-Through Drils

Every so often there’s a practical need to return to the basics. Below is an interesting video by SFC Keith Sanderson, from The United States Army Reserve Pistol Team, who explains the process of follow-through.

I believe he gets right to it, in a way that’s easy to understand and apply.

Granted his presentation is for practical shooting but at least it’s done with a ballgun. And the general process (aside from his two hand approach) is easily transferable to bullseye shooting.

Let’s face it, there are too few of us that actually do drills. Drills are the simple but mindless things that allows us to advance in this or any sport.

Monday, January 06, 2014

2014 New Year

Remember driver’s ed class in high school?
Sooner or later the instructor would eventually rollout a movie. Of course it would be about what happens when people do all kinds of stupid things while driving. And then you’d arrive at the last five minutes of the film, whereby the ultimate in visual carnage would be revealed to you in all its crimson goriness.

It was real footage. Assuming you never personally saw anything like it, it seemed almost abstract. Let’s call it “tough love” wrapped in celluloid.
Only a few short months ago I was practicing at my club’s outdoor pistol range. As some time passed a few new members strolled down the firing line to ready themselves for an afternoon of pistol plinking.  One thing led to another, and in the corner of my vision I noticed a hangtag tangling from a new pistol; one of the new members was about to test drive their brand spanking new Rock Island Armory 1911.
Wouldn’t you know it, this member swept the line several times and recklessly pointed his gun at me (not once but three times), and a few others too, within only a few seconds after opening his new pistol’s plastic box.

It necessitated a few minutes to review basic safety procedures by the local range officer, which just happened to be me. 

Several years ago a friend spoke to me in hushed tones and told a story about dry firing in his family room. Apparently it was something he did routinely, almost daily. So, instead of using the classic blank wall method, he turned the television on and took aim at an unsavory international political figure. You guessed it—he called the shot and released a round right thru the bridge of this dude's nose.

Within a brief moment he was stunned that he had blown out an old glass television tube; the thought of starting a home fire didn’t even enter his mind until his initial shock and dismay passed. Only then did he realize another home calamity was quickly unfolding.

A competitive shooter can easily go through several hundred thousand rounds in their shooting career, and sooner or later, something will go BANG, unintentionally or negligently. If you handle weapons long enough one will eventually go off when you never wanted it to.
Shamefully, even I have had a few experiences where I wished there was a moment of clarity long before things played out.
I was at an indoor match several years ago. As I typically do, I double plugged, and had a difficult time understanding the line caller’s range commands. That’s when I launched one down range during the prep time.
Yes, I was embarrassed. Luckily no one was down range, although there were a few on the line who had not yet put on their hearing protection. Believe me, I felt like crawling under a rock.

Keep in mind acts such as these are not intentional. And for those of us who routinely handle firearms the process can become mindless.
Luckily firearms accidents are rare and even rarer for those of us in competitive shooting.

People by their nature are uncomfortable with change and we expect predictability in our lives. It’s our nature to do things that are routine, including safety practices but that can lead to complacency. Complacency lulls us into a false sense of security. If we’ve never been hurt by something we tend to assume after a while, whatever it is, will never hurt us or someone else.
Don’t assume an accidental discharge will never happen to you.

Heck sometimes the safety features on a gun will wear out. And guess when you’re gonna find out about that?
Odds are it’ll be at the wrong time.
Good gun handling and safety practices actually take this reality into account if we do what’s traditionally required of us. And should a negligent or accidental discharge occur there shouldn’t be any harm or problems inflicted on ourselves or others.

In this coming New Year let’s have a lot of fun with our friends. Cherish our shooting heritage. But most of all be very skilled and deliberate with gun safety.