Monday, July 30, 2007

Making Gun Sports Fade Away

Alphecca covers this article about a proposal to let up to 50 of Great Britain’s top handgun shooters practice shooting in England. This would allow them to prepare for the Olympics in 2012 and then the ban on handgun shooting would once fall again. Predictably some anti-gunnies are totally against this even though there will be many “safeguards” in place.

Here’s what strikes me about rules that would allow up to 50 shooters to practice, or laws that limit handguns to licensed competitors, or any such similar idea: How do you identify those 50 people? What happens as the older competitors get old and die off? If shooting sports become so hard to enter how will we find young people to replenish the ranks?

Basically we can’t. So many of these “common sense” ideas such as licensing competitors or any gun owner, or keeping firearms in a police operated arsenal, or making people jump through government hoops are designed to keep young people out of the shooting sports. The more hassles, the fewer people entering the sport.

At the same time, it’s getting harder to find ranges open to the public. Commercial ranges are getting more expensive. Membership in some local gun clubs is expensive or they’re hard to join. In some countries you face a Catch-22; you can only get a gun license if you’re already an experienced shooter, but you can’t get experience unless you're an experience shooter.

On one hand, I think more people in the United States are buying guns right now, but on the other hand, not many buyers will take up a gun sport. Too many guns will be bought for defense and languish in a nightstand. There’s nothing wrong with defense, I believe in it heartily, but marksmanship is important. One reason it’s so important is that some people must master their sport, so that he or she can teach their knowledge and skills to younger people.

If those younger people don’t become “serious” shooters they will not be able to pass any knowledge and skills to their children even if they can (or are allowed to) pass a gun to an heir.

I don’t know what the future of shooting will be, but I know we have to pass it down to those who come after us.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

"Circles" E-Postal Match

I haven't written much here recently about getting out and shooting. Truth is Yosemite Sam and I just haven't been out much due to work and other demands. Still, we did get to the range last weekend and shot a number of guns and truly burned some powder.

I decided to shoot the "Circle" e-postal match that The Conservative UAW Guy is sponsoring. Until last year, I shoot a lot of bullseye pistol matches. I had to take a hiatus because my gun club is refurbishing the indoor range. That doesn't mean that I don't practice though. The "Circles" match's rules include one target shot offhand (one hand--just like in formal bullseye shooting). The other target can be shot either offhand or with both hands. I was enthusiastic about this match.

I shot my first target with a .45 Long Colt cowboy-type pistol. I was disappointed in the results. I discovered the gun that I thought was fairly accurate shoots to the left. Hmmm...nothing like having a different target to force one to discover certain unpleasant truths. No one will ever see that target (shudder).

I got out my bullseye pistol, that I featured here. I resighted it in for the 25 feet the rules required and shot a target. I did great on that one. But, I found out it was beginner's luck, at least for the Circles target. Let's roll that footage:

As you can see, I had a couple of throwers, but most hit home. I hit the edge of the smallest circle (13 points), but I have a little secret: I wasn't aiming at it. I was aiming at the bottom of the #4 ring and accidentally hit the 13 ring. I stared at it through my spotting scope and couldn't believe it. Knock me over with a feather. I got a total score of 88 out of a possible 91. I used a strategy of shooting the #8 ring first and then slightly raising my aim to hit the #7, then the #9 then #6 and so forth.

I then got humbled. I shot the next target with both hands and found the gun's grips don't really lend themselves to that practice. I managed to eke out a 56 on that target and here it is:

For the life of me, I couldn't even hit the #4 ring and sent a cluster of bullets next to it. Of course, I thought I could do better and took the last circle target I brought and tried in offhand. No improvement over 56. Thus I got a total of 144 for the match.

Shooting these e-postal matches is a useful practice. The targets take you out of your comfort zone and force you to try something new. If you haven't tried one, give it a whirl.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Steve "I'm Afraid of Guns" Bailey

By now most of you’ve read something about Boston Globe business columnist Steve Bailey and his potential problems with the ATF. He may have made a straw purchase while trying to show how “easy” it was to buy a gun illegally. If you haven’t read about it, catch up here and here.

Yosemite Sam and I heard Bailey on the radio last Friday, but that’s not what I want to talk about right now. Instead, Bailey wrote something in last Friday’s column (the one in which he tries to blame the NRA for well almost everything). He brags that, “…I’m afraid of guns.” He implied that he didn’t even touch the gun his or the Globe's money bought. The one that he had someone buy for him.

This bothers me. Why do leftists think it makes them a better person when they admit to an irrational fear? Experiencing fear when a bad guy points a gun at you is rational, but fearing an inanimate object is not rational.

Bailey must have known that the three people he was with could handle a firearm properly. One was anti-gun gunowner John Rosenthal (he likes to shoot skeet). Another was a Massachusetts cop and the other was the New Hampshire prison guard who made the purchase. All of them presumably can handle firearms properly.

Bailey probably realized that under supervision he could have safely handled the gun (perhaps he did and he’s lying). He could have even received bare bones training and then safely fired the gun in an appropriate place. But no, he has to make it a point that he fears guns.

Does he think that saying he’s afraid of guns makes him a reliable source on gun policy? In fact, I don’t think someone who’s afraid of cars should set highway policy. Or someone who’s afraid of knives should tell us how to prepare food.

With this statement Bailey admits that he’s the last person we should listen to on this issue. So, why should I listen to this fool on any issue? Too bad I don’t subscribe to the Globe—it would be so satisfying to cancel it.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Happy B'day to the AK-47 and Shooting a Clone

The New York Times "Week in Review" section has an article on the AK-47. Knock me over with a feather, but it has little anti-gun snark. The article centers on the weapon’s 60th anniversary of the weapon attended by its maker Mikhail Kalashnikov, now 87 years old.

The article states that Russia celebrated the gun’s “birthday” with pomp, circumstance, and a little chagrin. They praised the gun's world-wide acceptance, but they’re not happy that so many other countries are making and selling the iconic weapon. In many cases, the former Soviet Union established the very factories in those countries that are competing with them now.

The Russians are also unhappy that America has been buying a large number of AK-47s for Iraqi and Afghani police forces but not buying them from Russia. In other words, Russia wants to become the premier seller for AK-47s.

I think that horse has already left the barn, but who knows. Of course, they can’t sell a true AK-47 in America—at least not one made after 1986 (thanks to the execrable Hughes Amendment to the Firearms Owner Protection Act). Semi-auto versions are still legal here.

Yosemite Sam has a semi-auto Romanian AK clone, a SAR-1. He enjoys shooting it, but I’ve never developed much liking for the rifle. The gun is all black stamped metal and a particularly unlovely wood with little finish. Not exactly the esthetic I look for in a gun. Still, that’s not the most important reason for my dislike of this one (and so far only) gun.

It beats me up when I shoot it. There must be a strange confluence of the gun’s shape and my body structure. No matter how I hold the gun when I shoot it, the rear of the stock flips up and bashes me in the cheekbone. I guess I could shoot from the hip like the Brady Campaign suggests is so deadly, but there’s no fun in that.

I guess I’ll have to settle watching Yosemite Sam shoot his AK clone while I shoot my AR-15 clone. Thinking of it that way, I’m not settling for anything.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

New OSHA Comments Deadline and the NRA

Who says the NRA doesn't have clout when it comes to gun issues? According to a trade magazine for occupational health and safety, OSHA will increase the time for comment on its controversial recommendations that would demand retailers, manufacturers, and handloaders to treat ammunition the same way they would treat much more volatile explosives (smokeless powder is not even an explosive).

The article states;
The NRA is organizing opposition to the rule, which it believes would prohibit possessing firearms in gun stores (and other commercial facilities containing explosives); require evacuation of such facilities, "even your local Wal-Mart," the organization says, during an electrical storm; and prohibit smoking within 50 feet of such facilities.
The new deadline for comments is September 10, so get your cards and letters in. Keep them respectful and let them know that ammunition sales do not have to be regulated out of existence. Explain that modern ammo cannot be exploded with a spark, a match, a thunderstorm or any thing else that these people claim.

Also, this is one reason I am an Endowment/Life member of the NRA. I don't agree with everything they do, but they get attention when it's needed.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Gun Lies on the Radio Today

I came into work today all hot around the collar. I was driving to work and listening to a radio talk show. It’s called “Finneran’s Forum.” Host Tom Finneran was the Speaker of the Massachusetts House and practically ran the state for some time.

Finneran made a few wrong comments to Federal investigators looking into a possible gerrymandered redistricting map based on race. He ended up plea bargainong a felony conviction. I am unsettled about his conviction—the same type that got Martha Stewart and Scooter Libby. Any one could make a false statement even without lying and end up in the same position. Still, Finneran was convicted for a felony.

Finneran is a conservative Democrat and has surprising stands on many current issues. In other words, he’s not a moonbat even though he is a Democrat. This week, he has a co-host Todd Feinburg who is generally on the right. So, I was very interested when they announced their next segment would be on gun rights.

I turned up the volume and began a slow boil. They interviewed anti-gun leader John Rosenthal who sponsors a giant pro-gun control billboard placed on the Massachusetts turnpike near Boston. He is unveiling a new campaign on it—one that suggests we would have peace in our inner cities if only the NRA hadn’t bought off Congress and the White House.

Finneran objected to this and I waited for fireworks. They didn’t happen because his objection was to the thought that any lobbyist can “buy” a Congress critter at all. He and Feinburg, who I thought might know better, let Rosenthal get away with a lot of big, fat, porking anti-gun lies.

1) Rosenthal mentioned he was a gun owner and shoots skeet. At the same time, he opposes ownership of small handguns (maybe even target models) and “military-style” weapons. Too bad Finneran or Feinburg couldn’t point out that many people use “military-style” rifles for well-organized target shooting (Camp Perry matches anyone) and the guns are not true military guns anyway.

2) Rosenthal repeatedly talked about criminals buying guns in gun shows which he described as unregulated. He said most guns sold there go to anyone with the money. That’s not true. Gun shows are not a big source of crime guns and licensed dealers have to follow the same laws they would follow in their shops.

3) Rosenthal mentioned that most gun owners support a system where criminals could not easily buy guns. That could be true. I don’t like criminals buying guns, but the devil is in the details. He wants a Massachusetts style registration/licensing scheme—the same one that drove me out of the state.

I got to work before the segment ended and was so incensed I tried the call-in number but got a busy signal. Unless there was a change after I parked the car, there was little refutation of Rosenthal’s outright fibs, most of which were lies of omission. He knows that gun shows are not unregulated. He knows most gun owners would not support a Massachusetts-style scheme. He knows that “military-style” guns are not truly military guns.

Finneran and Feinburg should know better. They need to do a little research before letting outright lies go over the airwaves. Ironically, Finneran cannot touch a gun legally. Heh, maybe Rosenthal should invite Finneran for some skeet shooting and we can watch him give Finneran a gun and then we can watch the arrests. Nah, I couldn't nark like that.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Ammo, Dollars, and OSHA

Yosemite Sam and I went to our favorite gun store yesterday. We keep a fair amount of ammo on hand and also reload calibers we shoot the most. Thus we haven’t had to buy ammo like .45 Long Colt for awhile. Yes we've had to buy .22LR and other stuff, but that didn’t prepare us for sticker shock. As I reached for a box of Cowboy style .45LC, I saw a price sticker of $33.95 on the boxes and quickly snatched back my hand.

This is not a rare caliber people. It's become even more popular with Cowboy Action shooting. I decided that it was time to revisit the loading bench rather than buying new fodder. I know there’s good reasons for the price increase in ammo. I've been keeping up with posts from various people, but this hits home. It could also be very discouraging for those that are new to shooting. It is hard to buy a product for $33.95 that you’re planning to burn up in one short range session.

If you think prices are bad now, there's a proposed OSHA regulation that would treat small arms ammunition just like the most powerful explosives. If promulgated, the regulation would kill sport shooting. Xavier is all over it (as are gunnie organizations), so go do the clicky thing and learn more.

This proposed (and I have to stress it is only proposed) regulation is a perfect example of the law of unintended consequences. Every law, rule or regulation has goals—sometimes good sometimes bad depending on how you look at it. But, every one of them had consequences that no one foresaw. For instance, outlawing certain drugs has led to gang warfare, full prisons, and mayors bleating about banning guns in inner cities.

Let’s assume that OSHA is not ran by a bunch of bed-wetting gun fearing wussies (I know it’s a tretch). The employees who researched and drafted the proposal just want to make us safer. They want to reduce the loss of life of explosions in gun stores. Of course, this is a non-problem, but when did that ever stop a regulator.

The unintended consequence of such a regulation would be to virtually kill ammo sales. Thus a government agency presumably with no intent to damage ammo retailers and manufacturers could accomplish what anti-gunnies have been trying to do for years.

If I thought a box of .45 Long Colt was too expensive, if this rule passes I ain’t seen nothing yet.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Summer Camp that Goes Boom

I suffered a minor disappointment today. I glanced at the New York Times before starting my work day and saw a summer camp that teaches participants how to use explosives properly.

I can't say that I've ever been into blowing things up, but I certainly could have a lot of fun doing just that. It seems like the camp is only for high school kids who are planning a mining or explosives engineering career. I wonder if I could pass as a high school kid....